Why Moving Up Brazil’s Elections is a Terrible Idea

As Brazil’s president is looking more and more unlikely to complete his term in office, the country is divided as to how he should be replaced. Some are arguing to move up direct elections – a process that would require amending Brazil’s constitution. This would be a long, contentious and most likely pointless, if not potentially dangerous, exercise. Better to just follow the currently outlined constitutional procedure and wait for the next scheduled elections, which are only a little more than a year away. Instead of “Diretas Já” (direct elections now), how about “Diretas Já Já”(direct elections soon)?

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JBS and Impunity

Forget Odebrecht. JBS is the new king of Brazilian corruption, and revelations from the company's founders, the billionaire Batista brothers, threaten to take down President Michel Temer. But the real scandal is that despite admitting to some egregious crimes, the Batistas themselves have been granted full immunity and will continue to run their multi-billion dollar empire from abroad. 

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UPDATED: In Brazil, the Legislative and Judiciary Face Off

After a brief period of respite, tensions are once again building in Brazil at the end of what has been a singularly tumultuous year. Recent moves by Congress to shield itself from anti-corruption investigations have set off the latest round of widespread popular protests, but it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. A series of missteps, corruption allegations and controversial measures by the government of Michel Temer, combined with continued negative economic forecasts, have been trying the Brazilian people’s patience.

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Two Former Rio Governors Arrested

Within the last 24 hours, two former governors of the state of Rio de Janeiro have been arrested. Anthony Garotinho is accused of rigging his wife’s mayoral election in a cash-for-votes scheme. Sergio Cabral is accused of taking bribes from the construction companies responsible for public works projects in the state, notably some related to the World Cup and Olympic Games.

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The Pros and Cons of Brazil’s Controversial Constitutional Amendment

A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit public spending growth, one of the Temer government’s key initiatives, is making waves in Brazil. Some have cheered it, stating that getting Brazil’s finances in order is crucial for the country’s economic recovery. Others however, worry that this extreme measure will ultimately harm the country’s poorest citizens. So who’s right?

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What happened at Petrobras?

There is a saying that the most profitable business in the world is a well-run oil company, and the second-most profitable business is a poorly run one. Well, according to that logic, Brazil’s Petrobras defies categorization. It is a state-owned oil company, essentially a monopoly, in one of the biggest countries in the world, and yet it has been losing money for years. How is this possible?

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Dilma vs. Collor: How do Brazil’s impeachments compare?

The acrimonious nature and bizarre ending of Dilma Rousseff's impeachment almost makes you nostalgic for the impeachment of Fernando Collor de Mello, in 1992. Back then, Brazil was united in its disdain for a corrupt president and the process to remove him was relatively swift and uncontroversial. Indeed, perhaps the best way to make sense of the current impeachment and gain some perspective on it is to compare it with this previous episode. 

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Post-Impeachment Brazil: What happens now?

The events leading up to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff have been simultaneously traumatic and cathartic for Brazil. As this chapter of Brazilian history draws to a close, many unanswered questions remain. Will the new government have the clout to push through the hard reforms needed to pull Brazil out of its worst ever economic crisis? Will the Lava Jato corruption investigation be allowed to continue, or will politicians get in the way, risking the country’s future to save themselves?

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No crime in Dilma's pedaladas?

A Brazilian prosecutor has found that the “fiscal pedaling” for which suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment does not represent a crime. However, this interpretation probably won’t affect the outcome of the impeachment proceedings against her. This is because while conclusion of the prosecutor in this case refers to criminal charges, the "crimes of responsibility" cited as the basis for impeachment are civil in nature.

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One of the guys in charge of fixing Brazil’s finances just posted a frustrated but informative Twitter rant - UPDATED

As a Secretary in the Finance Ministry of Michel Temer’s interim government, economist Mansueto Almeida is one of the people tasked with the seemingly impossible task of fixing Brazil’s finances in the face of a crushing recession and a record budget deficit of some R$ 170 billion. Unsurprisingly, he is frustrated. Frustrated with the difficulty of it all, for sure, but even more so with the widespread speculation and unrealistic expectations coming from analysts and commentators about how it should be done.

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What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances (Entire series)

As Brazil’s interim government gets to work, its main task is fixing Brazil’s finances after identifying a record budget deficit. Although the specter of austerity looms large, the good news is that budget cuts don’t need to affect Brazil’s social programs. The country’s real fiscal problems can be alleviated by addressing large-scale inefficient and wasteful spending elsewhere. The following five-part series examines where some of these savings could come from.

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Largesse and waste in the Brazilian public sector

This is Part III of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part III examines inefficient and wasteful spending in Brazil's massive government bureaucracy, particularly with regard to public sector pensions, salaries, and other benefits.

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Subsidies to the wealthy: Bolsa Empresário and a flawed educational system

This is Part II of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part II examines the government's provision of subsidies and tax breaks to companies in Brazil, as well as the indirect subsidies provided to wealthy individuals through the country's educational system.

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