Sunday, October 31, 2010

South Africa's Football Lesson-Brasil Take Note For 2016

South Africa’s football lesson
By Simon Kuper
Published: October 30 2010 00:31 | Last updated: October 30 2010 00:31
On Sunday Dilma Rousseff will probably be voted president of Brazil. Soon afterwards she should get on her plane and visit the poor South African town of Nelspruit. There she will see the football stadium built for the recent World Cup. It’s barely played in any more, and isn’t much use to the surrounding slum-dwellers. From Nelspruit Rousseff can fly to Cape Town and view the magnificent new stadium beside the Atlantic. That one’s now redundant too. The company supposed to operate it for 30 years just pulled out of the deal, largely because Cape Town doesn’t need another stadium.

Then Rousseff can fly home and revise plans for what should be the most high-profile event of her reign: Brazil’s World Cup of 2014. Brazil can learn from South Africa’s mistakes. So can the countries bidding to host the World Cups of 2018 and 2022. (The winners will be chosen on December 2, unless scandals delay the vote.) Hosts need to understand what a World Cup is: a party. It leaves nothing behind except a hangover, good memories and a large bill.

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Every host of a World Cup or Olympics ritually claims that the tournament will be “an economic bonanza”. South Africa said this nonstop, and Orlando Silva Jr, Brazil’s charming sports minister, made the usual noises when I caught him over breakfast in Johannesburg during the last World Cup. “I guess that the Cup has been a stimulus for developing infrastructure here, and we will follow the same path in Brazil,” he said, in blithe defiance of the pile of academic studies that find no economic benefit from sports tournaments.

Brazil is building airports, roads and ports for 2014. These are fine things, but they shouldn’t be pegged to a World Cup. If you need a new airport, build it. If you only need a new airport for four football matches, don’t build it. The demands of a football tournament are seldom those of daily life.

Brazilian officials should know this already. One chilly winter’s Saturday in Johannesburg this June, dozens of them came to a workshop where South African officials told them about hosting – about, as one South African said, “some of our cuts and bruises”.

The Brazilians were mostly cheery, as befits officials making a “study visit” to a World Cup. But they heard chilling things. Perhaps the most chilling came from a woman whom I won’t name, to keep her out of trouble. She’s a senior official for Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg.

She told the Brazilians how, in early 2009, she had reviewed the projected economic boost the tournament would bring her province. She looked for numbers – and found almost nothing.

South Africa had been saying the tournament would increase tourism, create jobs, build useful infrastructure, etc. But she realised: “It wasn’t going to be giving us the benefits that we had told the country the World Cup was going to give us.” True, Johannesburg’s creaky transport links would improve a bit, but “it wasn’t as much as we had thought”. And so, over a year before kickoff, Gauteng quietly binned hopes of economic bonanza. Somehow the officials forgot to tell the South African people, but then running a province keeps you busy. In the event, predictably, the tournament went well over budget, and attracted few big-spending visitors. I recently got an e-mail from an official at one South African university, which had reserved 92,000 “bed-nights” for football visitors. Shortly before the tournament began, he says, Fifa’s booking agency returned 91,000 nights unused. “We are still trying to sell off the additional linen we had to purchase,” the official complains. If sports economists are right, the Cup won’t boost future tourism and foreign investment in South Africa either.

Brazil should enjoy its World Cup. However, it should view it strictly as a party. A party is fun, but costs money. Nobody says, “I’ll have a birthday party, and I’ll turn a big profit.” Economically, the tournament will entail transfers from some Brazilians to others: from taxpayers to football clubs, which will get shiny new stadiums, and from women (generally not so keen on football) to men (more keen). The tournament could also be a nice little earner for anyone who happens to own a stadium-building company. It won’t do much for slum-dwellers.

Brazil needs to keep costs down. At least it hasn’t copied South Africa’s strategy of rolling over and giving Fifa anything it wants. One Brazilian aide told me about tough negotiations with the global football authority. Nor does Brazil appear as naive about the fabled bonanza as South Africa was. Even Silva admitted that Brazilians were fiercely debating the benefits of hosting. “OK, fine,” he said. “The good thing is that Brazilian public opinion is astute.”

It needs to be. As that woman from Gauteng told her visitors: “There are a lot of mistakes we made that you hopefully won’t make.” Brazil should remember the empty stadium beside the Nelspruit slums, and that unused mountain of university linen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dilma Rouseff May Need Lula

Rousseff may need her mentor after Brazil poll
By John Paul Rathbone in London and Jonathan Wheatley in São Paulo

Published: October 29 2010 19:12 | Last updated: October 29 2010 19:12
If, as seems likely, Dilma Rousseff becomes the next president of Brazil at Sunday’s election, “never before in the country’s history” – to use a phrase beloved of her mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – will Brazil have had a female president.

More importantly, never before will Brazil have had such a powerful ex-president. Much as in neighbouring Argentina – where former leader Néstor Kirchner, who died on Wednesday and was colloquially known as “the Boss”, even though his wife was president – Mr Lula da Silva’s absence will leave a gaping hole in Brazilian politics.

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Investors have taken the Brazilian changeover in their stride as Ms Rousseff has pledged continuity with “Lulismo” and her predecessor’s largely sound macroeconomic policies.

“I don’t expect any major [policy] changes, at least not for the worst,” says Armínio Fraga, a former head of the Brazilian central bank.

By contrast, in Argentina, the death of Mr Kirchner, a combative politician who once told the International Monetary Fund to go to “hell”, was met by outpourings of grief – but also a market rally owing to the possible end of “Kirchnerismo”.

Nonetheless, the absence of Mr Lula da Silva, Brazil’s “boss”, will be sorely felt. Ms Rousseff is a dour if skilful technocrat who has never run for elected office before, and owes her double-digit lead in the polls to Mr Lula da Silva’s endorsement of her candidacy.

“She is very much the child of Lula,” says Timothy Power, director of Brazilian studies at Oxford university.

She has appeared testy in television debates opposite her main rival, José Serra of the centrist PSDB party, and failed to generate much excitement at rallies – even in her birthplace Belo Horizonte in the key central state of Minas Gerais, where she was campaigning on Saturday, as was Mr Serra.

Ms Rousseff will probably continue to need her mentor’s help should she win – just as Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president, relied on her husband to keep their very personalised Peronist government on the road. That could make for a complex balancing act, even in Brazil’s more institutionalised political life.

For one, Ms Rousseff enjoys little grassroots support in her party, the leftwing PT founded by Mr Lula da Silva in 1980 but which she only joined in 2000. “The power struggles will be worse than before. Everybody knows Dilma is not Lula,” says Luciano Dias, a political consultant in Brasília.

Moreover, Brazilian politics requires a president who can cajole the governing party’s coalition partners – especially, in the PT’s case, the catch-all PMDB party, a loose coalition of regional barons renowned for their love of pork.

Coalition building is not obviously one of the tetchy Ms Rousseff’s strengths – although it was a forte of Mr Lula da Silva, a former union leader. Similarly, in Argentina, the rough and tumble of local politics was a task that Mr Kirchner usually assumed, while Ms Fernández, although a seasoned politician, played the presidential role of “front woman”.

This has led to speculation in both countries as to who will take key cabinet posts to fill out the missing skills gap. In Brazil, a further question is what Mr Lula da Silva will do next.

He has said he wants to return to his flat in São Bernardo do Campo, put up his feet and watch football with a beer. But that is unlikely to keep an energetic 65-year-old politician with an 80 per cent approval rating occupied for long.

Alternatively, Mr Lula da Silva’s international popularity and interest in Africa could lead him to a top job at the UN. But “after Lula embraced [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadi-Nejad, there’s no way the US will allow him to have a role like that,” says Mr Dias.

More likely, then, he will remain in Brazil, “help out when needed, and act as arbiter in conflicts [Ms Rousseff] can’t handle”, says political consultant Alberto Almeida. At its most sinister, that could lead to a parallel presidency, akin to Vladimir Putin’s in Russia, with Mr Lula da Silva returning to the presidency in 2014 should Ms Rousseff’s command falter.

“The temptation must certainly be there,” comments one former government minister.

In Argentina, Mr Kirchner’s death spelt the end of the country’s most powerful double act since Juan and Evita Perón.

In Brazil, by contrast, “Lulismo” – more market-friendly, less politically antagonistic, and more dependent on party support than the highly personal “Kirchnerismo” – may live on.

Brasil Has More Oil Than Expected-A Big Surprise!

Brazil deepwater well hits huge oil reserve
By Jonathan Wheatley in São Paulo
Published: October 29 2010 20:44 | Last updated: October 29 2010 20:44
The Brazilian government has found up to 15bn barrels of oil in a deep-water field known as Libra, in a further indication of potentially enormous reserves contained in the so-called pre-salt region first discovered in 2007.

If confirmed, the Libra field alone could more than double the size of Brazil’s current proven reserves of about 14bn barrels of oil and natural gas equivalent.

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No figure has yet been put on the entire pre-salt region, so called because its oil is trapped beneath several kilometres of seawater, rock and a hard-to-penetrate layer of salt. But people in the industry say it could contain 100bn barrels or more, enough by some measures to put Brazil on a par with Kuwait or Russia among oil producers.

The ANP, the industry regulator, said the Libra field contained between 3.7bn and 15bn barrels of oil, with 7.9bn being the best estimate according to a study commissioned from Gaffney, Cline and Associates, an advisory firm.

The ANP denied any political element to Friday’s announcement, but coming just two days before the second round of Brazil’s presidential election it is certain to provide a boost to Dilma Rousseff, the pro-government candidate of the leftwing ruling PT party, who already had a commanding lead in polls.

Before Libra, the biggest find in the pre-salt region had been the nearby Tupi field, which entered production this week at 14,000 barrels a day, expected to rise to 75,000 a day next year.

Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, last month raised $70bn in the biggest share issue ever undertaken. It will use the money to help fund a $224bn investment programme for 2010 to 2014, part of which will be dedicated to the pre-salt fields.

As part of the share issue, Petrobras issued $42.5bn worth of stock to the government in exchange for the rights to 5bn barrels of pre-salt oil.

Parts of the pre-salt region are already being operated under a concessions system by Petrobras and international oil companies. When the region’s potential was understood in 2007, the government stopped granting concessions and sent bills to congress that would make all future operations subject to production sharing.

The regulations would make Petrobras the sole lead operator in pre-salt exploration. A new state-controlled company would oversee operations and decide the production rate.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Latin America: The passing of kirchnerismo | The Economist

Latin America: The passing of kirchnerismo | The Economist

Financial Markets React To Nestor Kirchner's Death

Néstor Kirchner

Published: October 28 2010 09:54 | Last updated: October 28 2010 15:40
Financial markets can be efficient at valuing, say, corporate results. In larger matters, they often miss the point. Take investors’ positive response to the sudden death of Néstor Kirchner. Argentina’s former president influenced the incumbent, his wife Cristina, in her policies, which are definitely inflationary and probably bad for the country’s long-term prospects.

The weakening of the Kirchner hold may well be good for markets, but Wednesday’s 13 per cent increase in Argentine share prices was senseless. After all, Argentina’s entrenched tradition of self-destructive economic populism long pre-dates Mr Kirchner, who was almost unknown when he came to power in 2003. Its economic record under his presidency was okay, and under his wife the country even made good its relations with international creditors. If bad policy is what Argentina wants, another Kirchner (quite possibly less skilled) will be found to lead the people in the wrong direction.

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For an even better example of the markets’ unsubtle judgment of Latin American politics, look at neighbouring Brazil, where shares could be had for two-thirds of book value during the sell-off ahead of Lula’s election as president in 2002. Now, at the end of his presidency, they go for twice book.

Evidently markets, like people, attribute too much to individual mortals. They also fail to put a value on natural assets such as the cost of lost biodiversity and flood-prevention. On Thursday The World Bank announced a new programme to introduce “ecosystem valuation into national accounts”. This would make it easier to charge companies for the environmental costs of their projects. But there is no realistic way to calculate the present value of a possible disaster avoided a decade or a century from now. The numbers would largely reflect the prejudices of those who calculate them – just like markets’ judgments on Latin American politics.

E-mail the Lex team confidentially / Americas / Politics & Policy - Kirchner death sparks market rally / Americas / Politics & Policy - Kirchner death sparks market rally

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Kirchner Style

Combative style paved way for powerful dynasty
By John Paul Rathbone in London
Published: October 27 2010 19:34 | Last updated: October 27 2010 19:34
Néstor Kirchner, the former Argentine president who, with his wife, formed what many called the country’s most powerful political dynasty since Juan and Evita Perón, died on Wednesday from a heart attack. He was 60.

The son of a post office official, he first tasted power as mayor and then governor of Santa Cruz, a distant southern province closer to the Antarctic than the capital. Paradoxically, this obscurity served him well. In 2003, shortly after the country defaulted on $100bn of foreign debt, Mr Kirchner ran for the presidency as a fresh face who could promise voters he would “renew the political culture” and cleanse it of corruption.

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His inauguration that May gave the nation a taste of Mr Kirchner’s typical aggression. Tall and lanky with a lazy eye, speech impediment and a nose like a hawk’s beak, Mr Kirchner sported a Band-Aid on his face after being cut by a camera while, in typical “K Style”, wading through chaotic crowds.

Mr Kirchner, whose closest supporters, many of whom followed him to Buenos Aires from Santa Cruz and were known as “penguins”, negotiated one of the most punitive debt restructurings in history – offering international creditors about 30 cents on the dollar. He clashed frequently with the International Monetary Fund and foreign companies, exhorting Argentines in one example in 2005 to boycott Shell petrol stations after the oil company raised prices.

After the international humiliation of the debt default, this approach won him popularity at home. Just 100 days into his presidency, he became the most popular president in Argentine history.

But his heterodox economic approach, which included price controls and the “smart populism” of targeted spending at urban classes, and which he continued in 2007 from behind the scenes when his wife Cristina Fernández won the presidency, left a mixed record. In their back-to-back tenures, the Kirchners increased state control of the economy, muzzled the press and intervened in financial and commodity markets, but international investment fell.

High initial growth was followed by high inflation and, in congressional elections in 2009, Mr Kirchner lost office to an opponent from an anti-Kirchner faction of the Peronist party, because of rising crime, corruption and a battle with farmers over export taxes. However, an economic recovery this year, thanks in large part to rising commodity prices and the boom in neighbouring Brazil, saw approval ratings for his wife’s presidency, and his own popularity by association, recover from lows of about 20 per cent.

Alongside his wife, who was expected to try to return the presidential baton to her husband in the 2011 election, he was often associated with the “new left” in Latin America. He was a close ally of Hugo Chávez, the radical president of Venezuela, and once thundered that “no way in hell” would Argentina return to the IMF after the country paid off its $10bn debt in 2006.

Yet, like Ms Fernández, he occupied a hazier middle political ground that was always pragmatic – critics said venal – more than ideological. This year, Argentina made overtures to repair relations with both the IMF and international creditors after negotiating a deal with holdouts who never accepted the original terms of his 30 cents on the dollar restructuring deal.

Mr Kirchner underwent surgery twice this year, treating physical debilities that stood in contrast to his robust attitudes. “What stands out is the solidity of his convictions, which were not always backed by the majority of people but were always firm, clear and at times even aggressive,” commented Antonio Cafiero, a minister under Peron, who added that Mr K’s style “wasn’t always the best”.

“We have lost a good Argentine, a politician to his fingertips; a true, astute, combative politician who never hid his convictions . . . and who has left his mark on national life.”

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Death Leaves Argentina's Future Wide Open

Death leaves Argentina’s future wide open
By Jude Webber in Buenos Aires
Published: October 27 2010 14:59 | Last updated: October 27 2010 19:42

Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez and her husband, the former president Nestor Kirchner
The death of Néstor Kirchner, Argentina’s most influential politician, leaves a void at the heart of the presidency of his wife, Cristina Fernández, and a big question mark over the country’s direction.

The Kirchners’ unpopularity with middle-class voters made neither of them a sure-fire bet for victory in presidential elections in October 2011. But one or the other of Argentina’s most powerful political couple since Juan and Evita Perón had been expected to stand, in hopes that the combination of a weak opposition, booming growth and high public spending would carry them through.

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Now, with the death of Mr Kirchner of a heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 60, everything is wide open.

Ms Fernández will receive a massive outpouring of sympathy, but opinion polls showed voters were already weary of the couple’s confrontational style well before Mr Kirchner’s death – which may open the way to a milder candidate like Mr Kirchner’s vice-president, Daniel Scioli, to steer Argentina into a more investor-friendly era.

“This dramatically changes the current political landscape and the outlook for the elections,” said Joaquín Morales Solá, a commentator. “The Kirchner era was over before this . . . I don’t think she can renew a political mandate without her husband. Theirs was a joint project.”

Mr Kirchner’s death offers Ms Fernández an elegant way out if she decides not to stand again in 2011. With no prospect of humiliating defeat, she could wrap up her term as the president who tackled the problem of “holdouts”, creditors still unpaid from Argentina’s 2001 default – a key step towards restoring international respectability. And with the economy expected to grow as much as 8 per cent this year and more than 5 per cent in 2011, and record central bank reserves, she could argue she was leaving Argentina in fine shape – vindication for her husband’s political model.

She may, in addition, find that no one would be willing to pursue her for corruption charges during the two Kirchner terms.

Under the polarising presidencies of the Kirchners, Argentina’s ruling Peronist party has become bitterly divided. “With Kirchner’s death, the battle for dominance within the Peronist movement will be fierce,” says Irenea Renuncio-Mateos, Latin America analyst at IHS Global Insight.

“Meanwhile, the popularity of Daniel Scioli – governor of Argentina’s Buenos Aires province and president of the Justicialist Party – keeps on rising ahead of next year’s general elections,” Ms Renuncio-Mateos added. Mr Scioli is attracting increasing support from both the electorate and business, she said.

Daniel Kerner, analyst at Eurasia, a consultancy, noted that the way the Fernández government has worked until now was for all the decision-making powers to be concentrated in the hands of Mr Kirchner. “This isn’t a government of president and ministers and a team – it was basically him,” he said.

He, however, expected Mr Kirchner’s death to reaffirm Ms Fernández’s candidacy next year, though he acknowledged there was likely to be a battle for control of the government. He expected Ms Fernández to stick firmly to the lines mapped out by her husband, and to trust the same close-knit group of advisers.

In addition, Mr Kerner said it might prove difficult for Mr Scioli – or anyone else from within the Kirchner orbit – from launching his own bid without being seen as a traitor.

“At face value, President Cristina Kirchner is now more likely to stand for re-election (but without the valuable contribution and political coattails of a seasoned strategist) and a cabinet reshuffle over the next few months should not be ruled out,” echoed Alberto Ramos at Goldman Sachs.

Brazil's Testy Election Race

Brazil’s testy election race
Published: October 26 2010 23:21 | Last updated: October 26 2010 23:21
Brazil’s presidential election has taken a nasty turn. At a recent rally, José Serra, from the opposition PSDB party, was hit on the head by a roll of duct tape, supposedly thrown by a supporter of the ruling PT party. “You remember the Nazi’s assault troops?” he sneered, harvesting political capital for Sunday’s run-off. “This is typical of fascists.” The next day, it was Dilma Rousseff’s turn. On campaign in PSDB territory, she was almost hit by a water balloon.

One reason for this burst of aggression is that Brazil’s election race, like all good races, has kept the drama for last. It grew unexpectedly close after Ms Rousseff failed to win the first round outright, despite being president Luiz Inácio da Silva’s public protégée. Both candidates have also said little about their proposed policies, preferring instead vague promises of continuity. This is politically understandable: every Brazilian wants to prolong the country’s new prosperity. But it also left the candidates to define themselves only by denigrating the other.

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In fact, both are remarkably similar. They are social democrats who believe in market-friendly policies with a large social component. They are busybody technocrats. They are also charmless. Both have been compared to Gordon Brown, only without the charisma – a potentially serious problem. Success in Brasília hinges on the president’s ability to cajole and seduce his or her party’s coalition partners. Mr Lula da Silva was rich in such talents. Ms Rousseff and Mr Serra are not.

Where differences do exist, they are slight but significant. Mr Serra is more of a fiscal hawk. Hopefully, he would stop the use of off-budget schemes recently deployed to meet fiscal targets. Trimming public spending, still rising fast despite a red-hot economy, would also bring down interest rates and so limit currency appreciation. Ms Rousseff favours a bigger state, although a fifth of public companies already count it – one way or other – among their top five shareholders. On foreign policy, Mr Serra would be less indulgent towards Iran, Venezuela and Cuba than Brazil has been. Ms Rousseff has also only just recovered from cancer.

Yet the biggest difference, perhaps, is the role Ms Rousseff’s wildly popular benefactor will play if she wins – as is likely, given her 10-point lead in polls. A parallel presidency, like Mr Putin’s in Russia, is possible; so too is Mr Lula da Silva’s return to office in 2014 and 2018. If only to interrupt this relationship with power, Mr Serra is the better choice for Brazil.

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Former Argentine President Kirschner Dies At age 60

Associated Press

Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner dies

FILE - In this June 22, 2009 file photo, Argentina's former president Nestor Kirchner gestures at a campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina. According to state television in Argentina, Nestor Kirchner died on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2010 of a heart attack at age 60.
(10-27) 08:00 PDT BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) --
Former Argentine PresidentNestor Kirchner — the husband of current leader Cristina Fernandez — died suddenly Wednesday after suffering from severe heart trouble, the presidency said.
Kirchner, 60, died after he was rushed in grave condition to the Formenti de Calafate hospital while suffering a severe heart attack, the presidency said.
"It was a sudden death," his personal doctor, Luis Buonomo, told reporters in El Calafate, where Kirchner and his wife had gone to rest and await their turn to be counted in the nation's census. Buonomo said an official medical report would be released later in the day.
He was accompanied at all times by his wife, the presidency said.
Kirchner, 60, had undergone an angioplasty after a heart attack in September, but was still a likely candidate in next year's presidential elections. He also served as secretary general of the South American alliance known as Unasur, as a congressman and as leader of the Peronist party.
The news shocked Argentines.
"A great patriot has died," said Juan Carlos Dante Gullo, a ruling party congressman, to state TV. "This will leave a huge hole in Argentine politics. We will have to follow his example. Argentina has lost one of its greatest men."
The leader of the human rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, said Kirchner "gave his life for his country."
"Our country needed this man so much. He was indispensable," she told radio Continental.
Kirchner served as president from 2003-2007, bringing Argentina out of severe economic crisis and encouraging judicial changes that set in motion dozens of human rights trials involving hundreds of dictatorship-era figures who had previously benefited from an amnesty.
He recently was appointed secretary general of the Union of South American Republics, or Unasur, and was preparing for an intense 2011 election campaign in which either his wife or himself would run again to maintain their hold on power.
Born in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, Kirchner and his wife were active in the Young Peronists party as students in La Plata, where he graduated in 1976. With the military firmly ruling the country, the young couple married and worked as private attorneys in the provincial capital. After democracy returned in 1983, Kirchner entered public service, first as the provincial pensions chief, and then as mayor of Rio Gallegos.
In 1991, he became Santa Cruz's governor and Fernandez was elected to the provincial legislature, pushing through indefinite re-election and filling the provincial courts with sympathetic judges. In 1995 he was re-elected as governor by an overwhelming margin, laying the groundwork for a jump to politics at the national level.
Associated Press Writers Vicente Panetta and Mayra Pertossi contributed to this rep

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Monday, October 25, 2010

There Is Hope For Jose Serra In Brasil

Brazil's presidential election

Second round, second thoughts?

In a suddenly exciting contest, José Serra would be a better president than Dilma Rousseff

FROM June until the end of September, Dilma Rousseff seemed to be cruising towards Brazil’s presidency, with a poll lead that at one point put her almost 25 points ahead of her chief opponent, José Serra. But an election that had seemed a soporific canter has suddenly turned into a horse race. Having failed to win outright on October 3rd, Ms Rousseff, the former chief of staff and chosen candidate of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the hugely popular outgoing president, faces a run-off against Mr Serra on October 31st. Several recent polls put the gap between them at only five or six points (see article).
Mr Serra is lucky to have a second chance, for his campaign has until recently been hapless. He owes his reprieve mainly to the unexpectedly strong vote for a third candidate, Marina Silva, who won 19.3% on October 3rd. Less happily, religious leaders may have swayed some voters against Ms Rousseff, who once backed abortion rights. Ms Rousseff may still be the favourite to win, but Mr Serra has a spring in his step and the election is wide open. Brazil now has a choice.
That is a good thing in itself. Ms Rousseff did not deserve to win by default just because she was Lula’s hand-picked successor. Which candidate deserves the presidency more? Both might be described as social democrats; both agree on the broad outlines of economic and social policy. Neither presages disaster for Brazil. That said, on the issues on which they disagree, Mr Serra is the more persuasive of the two.
Ms Rousseff and the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) want the state to play a bigger role in the economy. They are especially keen on that in the oil industry, but they also want to keep lending public money to big business to create national champions. In return, in some cases, they want more influence over boardroom decisions. It is hard to see them putting a stop to the inexorable growth of the public payroll, swollen by many PT appointees, and of the tax burden required to pay for it.

The case for change at the top
Mr Serra also has faults, notably a worrying tendency to try to micromanage everything. But his record suggests that he would move faster to cut wasteful spending and eliminate the fiscal deficit, and that he would be keener to mobilise private capital for much-needed infrastructure. Monetary policy would no longer have to carry all the burden of keeping inflation under control, allowing Brazil’s egregiously high interest rates to fall (and helping to halt the excessive appreciation of the real). Ms Rousseff would tackle such distortions more gradually, if at all. In an uncertain world that is unnecessarily risky. For all his achievements in fighting poverty and making Brazil a fairer place, Lula is bequeathing a country where one in two homes lack mains sewerage and educational standards remain woeful. Those should be priorities for public spending.
There are two other reasons why Brazilians would do well to favour Mr Serra. The first is that Ms Rousseff is not Lula. She lacks his extraordinary political gifts and perhaps also his innate pragmatism. By contrast, although Mr Serra may be a poor campaigner, he has been an effective minister, mayor and governor. Second, although no political party has a monopoly when it comes to corruption, there are plenty of signs that the PT has become too cosy with power. After eight years under the PT Brazil would benefit from a change at the top.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jenny Sanford: Ex-Husband Still Seeing Lover Maria Belen Chapur (VIDEO)

Jenny Sanford: Ex-Husband Still Seeing Lover Maria Belen Chapur (VIDEO)

Embraer Gets $1 Billion Order From Net Jet

NetJets announces $1bn order from Embraer
By Rohit Jaggi in Atlanta
Published: October 19 2010 01:41 | Last updated: October 19 2010 01:41
NetJets of the US, the leading fractional jet operator, has announced an order worth more than $1bn for light jets made by Embraer of Brazil.

The firm order for 50 Embraer Phenom 300 aircraft and provisional order for 75 more represents the first time that NetJets has ordered aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer.

beyondbrics: Embraer lands $1bn NetJets order - Oct-19

Clouds of recession begin to disperse - May-04

NetJets: Giant of Europe is braced for a bumpy ride - May-04

Jet prices: Market split overshadows optimism - May-04

Europe set to lead new business jet sales - May-03

Business aircraft makers face severe test - Feb-08

The order, announced on Monday on the eve of the US National Business Aviation Association annual convention in Atlanta, also represents a statement of confidence from the world’s foremost fractional operator about the direction of a sector that has been struggling for some two years in the financial downturn.

A survey of the business aviation sector released on Sunday by Honeywell Aerospace, the leading aviation supplier, said there had been just three deliveries of aircraft to fractional operators in the 18 months to the middle of this year.

“We think the worst is behind us,” said David Sokol, president and chief executive of NetJets, said on Monday. “It’s still a tough economic climate but it’s certainly stabilised.”

“We’ll complete the year substantially profitable, and through September this year we are significantly net of new owners.”

The aircraft will be built to an exclusive NetJets specification and called the Phenom 300 Platinum Edition.

“We were very open to changes,” said Frederico Curado, president and chief executive of Embraer. “We see it as an opportunity to improve our own product.”

The NetJets aircraft will come on top of an existing backlog of about 500 Phenom 300 and smaller 100 aircraft, split roughly equally between the two types.

The Phenom 300 was certified at the end of last year. Capable of carrying eight or nine passengers, it is substantially larger than its stablemate the Phenom 100, which can be configured for up to six passengers and had its first delivery at the end of 2008.

NetJets in 2009 cancelled an order worth $2.6bn with Hawker Beechcraft. On the value of the Embraer order, Mr Sokol said: “We have not given out a precise figure but it will be something in excess of $1bn.”

The first 50 aircraft are due to be delivered over the three years starting in 2013. Mr Sokol said about 20 per cent of the aircraft would be going to NetJets Europe.

NetJets currently has Hawker Beechcraft and Cessna Citation aircraft in its small-cabin fleet. It is aiming to have only two aircraft types in this sector, and Mr Sokol said that the company will be retiring older aircraft.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Skiing's Final Frontier

Winter sports special: skiing’s final frontier
By Xavier De Le Rue
Published: October 8 2010 22:54 | Last updated: October 8 2010 22:54

Jeremy Jones, Xavier De Le Rue’s snowboarding companion, in Antarctica
I’m told we had it fairly easy on the crossing. I’m also told that we passed minke whales, and that for much of the 500-mile, three-day voyage from Ushuaia in Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula, we were followed by albatross. I couldn’t say myself, as any attempt to get out of my bed made me instantly seasick.

By the time we reached land I had been travelling for almost a week, and it was a beautiful relief to wake up and feel the ship still. I went out on deck to take in my first view of the Antarctic Peninsula under a perfect blue sky, its dramatic fjords crowded with icebergs on which seals basked in the sun.

A children’s ski holiday in St Anton - Oct-08

A road trip through Colorado’s mountains - Oct-08

What’s new this season - Oct-08

Downshifting ski chalets - Oct-08

The Savoy’s £220m revamp - Oct-01

Swiss bliss - Oct-02

There are quicker ways of reaching Antarctica – it’s now possible to fly from Chile to a base camp in the interior and ski from there. And we could have used a helicopter to access our snowboarding, but my companion Jeremy Jones and I knew we didn’t want to go down that route. Showing up among all the wildlife in such an unspoiled place with a noisy, gas-burning machine, then getting ferried to the top of run after run wasn’t our style. We weren’t here just to nail the most amazing descents and to rush to fit in as much boarding as possible. We wanted to treat the place with respect, to work hard for our turns and that way, we hoped, to reap some great rewards.

And so we had come to the White Continent aboard the Clipper Adventurer, a 90m ice-reinforced ship, on the inaugural Antarctic Ski Cruise organised by the US-based Ice Axe Expeditions. It was the first time an entire ship had been chartered for an Antarctic ski trip, and with 105 others on board, we would spend a week touring the fjords of the Antarctic Peninsula, raising anchor every evening and exploring new mountains every day.

It was Antarctica’s spring, November last year, a time when you might normally expect only a couple of days of good weather during the month. We got lucky – for eight straight days we had at least some sunshine and, now and then, temperatures even topped zero.

Where I’m skiing this winter...

Graham Bell, Five-time Olympic skier and presenter of the BBC’s Ski Sunday

“I go to numerous resorts each winter for Ski Sunday, but I’m taking the family to Going, part of the Wilder Kaiser ski area near Söll, in Austria. We’ll be four couples and four children, with very different standards. I have no idea how we’ll all manage to ski together – we’ll probably set up some kind of base camp. I will ski with the adults until they are tired out, then have a go at exhausting the children!”

Everywhere the ship anchored, we were presented with 360-degree panoramas of tempting lines from the peaks and ridges. But with these temptations came dangers. As well as the crevasses, glaciers and avalanche risks we’re used to dealing with in the high mountains, there was the challenge of actually getting from the boat on to the mountainsides in sub-zero water strewn with icebergs. And we knew that if we got hurt, no helicopter would rescue us. Other than our own skills, there was no safety net.

Each day we scoped out access points from a Zodiac inflatable dodging among the icebergs. After finding a place we could safely get on to the snow, we would start the long, slow ascent, laden with ice-climbing and mountaineering kit, to the top of the run we had made our goal. Sometimes we’d be bootpacking (kicking steps into the snow with our feet), other times using splitboards (snowboards which split into two, like skis, so sticky touring skins can be stuck to the underside allowing you to climb uphill).

We didn’t mind the effort. In a place so full of unknowns, these slow, careful climbs were crucial. If you’re paying attention, the mountain feeds you so much information that you start to feel a connection, to be able to read it, its quirks and its dangers.

Timing was another skill we had to learn. Even though there were 21 hours of daylight at that time of year, there was just a six-hour window for riding. Start your run too early and you’d be skating down sheet ice. Leave it too late, and you’d have the same problem – within seconds of direct sunlight leaving the snow, the temperature would instantly drop, freezing it solid again.

The descents were spectacular, and surprisingly varied. Icebergs just off the shore and towers of ice at the water’s edge made the landscapes unlike anything I had seen before, a bizarre and beautiful cross between a coastal and a glacier-strewn high-alpine environment. And it was surreal to be so close to wildlife that has no fear of humans. At the bottom of one run, we had to pick our way through a colony of about 400 penguins. All around us they waddled, squabbled, slid on their fronts – our being there didn’t ruffle them in the least.

And although Antarctica only gets the same amount of precipitation as the Sahara, we found some huge powder stashes. Close to Admiralty Bay, we hiked a five-hour traverse across a glacier to get to a really steep face, racing the last stretch as only 10 minutes of sunlight remained. Surrounded by twisted towers of ice, this perfectly smooth, 60-degree run offered up deep, silky fluff all the way to the sea.

But we didn’t get it all our way. One ascent in Discovery Bay, on the north side of Greenwich Island, looked perfect from the ship, although there was no easy way of getting from the boat on to the mountain. First we considered getting out of the Zodiac on to a little, flat iceberg and accessing the mountain from there. But about 30 seals were taking a nap on the ice, and we decided not to bother them. The only other option was to climb straight out on to the ice cliffs. Putting on crampons and grabbing ice axes, we climbed out of the boat straight on to a vertical ice wall. It was pretty unnerving as, carrying all that kit, we knew we wouldn’t float for a second in the freezing water. I had a little moment when I asked myself if we should turn back. But, no, it was a really beautiful place, really special, and we decided to go for it.

A little further up, we found some flatter ground, roped up and started the hike. We had only been climbing a few minutes when we came across a crevasse running across the mountainside. That made us think that perhaps we were on an island; that the ice we were standing on wasn’t properly attached to land. We felt uncomfortable, knowing the sea was just below. And then, with a huge, splintering sound, a 200m-wide section of the slope sheered off three metres behind us and collapsed into the water, sending icebergs and seals shooting out to sea.

As the way we had come up wasn’t there any more, we ended our day by abseiling, shaken, back down into the Zodiac. It was an experience we discussed at length that evening, as we enjoyed the nightly show of icebergs drifting past the windows in the warm, horizontal sunlight and tucked into generous helpings of Argentinian beef and Malbec wine in the ship’s dining room. Both of us had felt uneasy about the ascent, and were chastened that we had not trusted our instincts. Although for days we’d been lucky enough to see Antarctica in a sunny, mellow mood, that day it sent us home to our warm, cosy ship with an unforgettable reminder of just how hostile it can be.

Xavier De Le Rue is the current Freeride World Champion, the third year in a row he has held the title. His snowboarding trip to Antarctica with fellow professional Jeremy Jones forms the basis of a new film, ‘Lives of the Artists: Follow Me Down’, which can be viewed at



Xavier De Le Rue travelled with Ice Axe Expeditions ( Its next Antarctic expedition is a 23-day trip by yacht, departing on November 13. There are eight places and it costs £11,360pp. The next Ski Cruise on the Clipper Adventurer runs from November 820, 2011 and costs £4,470pp. Several other specialists now offer Antarctic ski trips: Adventure Network International (, Adventure Consultants ( and Andescross (


More extreme thrills

Skiing 8,000m peaks

For Kenton Cool, Britain’s most celebrated mountain guide, the ski season has already begun, writes Tom Robbins. On September 30, the 38-year-old enjoyed an epic ski descent from the summit of Nepal’s Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest mountain. It makes him the only Briton to have skied two 8,000m peaks (he skied Cho Oyu, on the Nepal-Tibet border, in 2006 – the first descent of an 8,000m peak by a British skier). And now you can follow in his ski tracks: Dream Guides, the guiding company run by Cool and fellow guide Guy Willett, is running a Manaslu expedition from August 24 2011. You need to be suitably experienced – and have $17,000 to spare.

Heliskiing in Iceland

If you want to claim a first descent of a never-skied-before peak, head to the Troll peninsula of northern Iceland. Commercial heliskiing only arrived here in 2008, and numerous lines remain to be claimed. Elemental Adventure offers a four-night trip for €4,490.

Verbier off-piste

Renowned coach Warren Smith is launching “supergroup” courses this winter for private groups of between four and six “who want to be pushed hard”. Five-day courses cost from £495 per person.

Steep skiing in Chamonix

Remy Lecluse is one of the world’s leading extreme skiers, with more than 56 first descents around the world to his name. Even more remarkably, he will take clients with him into extreme terrain and on descents of more than 50 degrees. “People think I’m a nutter,” he admits. The adventure skiing specialist Mountain Tracks has arranged two five-day courses with Lecluse, costing £895, during which he will guide guests on the best Chamonix couloirs.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa Wins Nobel Prize For Literature

Vargas Llosa scoops Nobel literature prize

Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel prize for literature
Financial crisis gives Nobel Foundation no peace - Oct-05

IVF pioneer wins Nobel Prize for medicine - Oct-04

Review: The Bad Girl - Vargas Llosa - Jan-26

STOCKHOLM, October 7 - Peruvian-born writer and one-time presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa, a chronicler of people’s struggles against authority in Latin America, won the 2010 Nobel prize for literature on Thursday.

The awarding committee said in a statement Vargas Llosa received the award “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat”.

Vargas Llosa, who made his international breakthrough with the novel “The Time of the Hero” in 1966, is the first Latin American winner for literature since Octavio Paz won in 1990.

His works build on his experiences of life in Peru in the late 1940s and the 1950s.

Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru in 1990 but lost to Alberto Fujimori, who ultimately had to flee the country and was subsequently convicted of various crimes.

Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Nobel committee, said he had telephoned Vargas Llosa, who was in the US, with the news.

“He’s actually having a two-month stint there in Princeton teaching, so I was sort of embarrassed for phoning him so early. But he had been up since 5 o’clock preparing a lecture for Princeton. He was elated. He was very, very moved.”

Mr Englund bubbled over in his praise of the writer. “He has a number of masterpieces in narration because essentially he’s a narrator, he’s a storyteller. My goodness, what a storyteller!”

Mr Englund characterised Vargas Llosa as one of the great authors in the Spanish-speaking world. “He is one of the persons behind the Latin-American literary boom of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and he has continued to work and expand.”

Vargas Llosa’s works are strewn with figures of power and authority.

In “The Feast of the Goat”, a 49-year-old woman returns to the Dominican Republic, haunted by memories of her childhood when the nation was led by brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo.

The story tells of her efforts to overcome a traumatic past: “Were you right to come back? You’ll be sorry, Urania... returning to the island you swore you’d never set foot on again...,” he writes.

“To prove to yourself you can walk along the streets of this city that is no longer yours, travel through this foreign country and not have it provoke sadness, nostalgia, hatred, bitterness, rage in you.”

Vargas Llosa, who has lectured and taught at universities in Latin America, the US and Europe, is also a noted journalist and essayist, the committee said.

The prize of 10 million Swedish crowns was the fourth of this year’s Nobel prizes, following awards for medicine on Monday, physics on Tuesday and chemistry on Wednesday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brazil's presidential election: A run-off in the offing | The Economist

Brazil's presidential election: A run-off in the offing | The Economist

La Costanera: Dining on the (Peruvian) Coast - San Jose Mercury News

La Costanera: Dining on the (Peruvian) Coast - San Jose Mercury News

Dilma Rousseff Forced Into Run Off Election In Basil

Brazil’s presidential poll heads for run-off
By John Paul Rathbone and Jonathan Wheatley in São Paulo
Published: October 3 2010 18:21 | Last updated: October 4 2010 02:55

Peck on the cheek: Dilma Rousseff with one of the candidates for a local governorship
Lex: the Silva chalice - Oct-03

beyondbrics: Brazil - Aug-09

In depth: Americas - Aug-25

Rousseff rallies voters in Lula stronghold - Oct-02

Lula keen to protect legacy as Brazil votes - Oct-01

Analysis: Brazil: Great expectations - Sep-28

Brazil’s presidential election took a surprising turn on Sunday evening when Dilma Rousseff failed to win a majority of the vote and must now take her chances in a run-off on October 31.

Ms Rousseff of the ruling leftwing PT had appeared to be heading for victory on a wave of popular support for outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her political mentor, who has overseen eight years of booming prosperity and leaves office with an approval rating of 80 per cent.

But with 99 per cent of the vote counted Ms Rousseff, a stern technocrat, had only 47 per cent, short of outright victory. Her biggest rivals, José Serra of the centrist PSDB, had 33 per cent and Marina Silva of the Green party had 19 per cent. Ms Rousseff needed 50 per cent plus one vote to avoid a run-off.

A corruption scandal that unseated her former right-hand woman has dented Ms Rousseff’s lead over the past fortnight.

The result will be a stunning blow to Mr Lula da Silva who made securing his succession the priority of his last year in power. “A vote for Dilma is a vote for me,” he had said on Friday.

The second round promises to be a gruelling campaign. Ms Rousseff will be forced into a direct confrontation with Mr Serra, something both candidates have so far avoided.

Mandatory voting for 131m people
● Brazil is the world’s fourth most populous democracy. Sunday’s vote was the sixth direct presidential election since military rule ended in 1985

● The vote was also the first election since the end of military rule in which Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was not a candidate

Brazil is the world’s eighth-largest economy, with a gross domestic product of about $1,600bn

● Voting is mandatory for citizens over the age of 18

● About 131m of the 190m population are eligible to vote

● In addition to the president, the following posts are up for election: 27 state governors; all 513 representatives in the chamber of deputies; two-thirds of the 81-seat senate; and 1,059 representatives to state assemblies

● With the exception of a few remote polling stations, votes are cast electronically and can be tallied quickly

For most of the past four months, since her candidacy was officially declared, Ms Rousseff has been content to bask in Mr Lula da Silva’s popularity. Meanwhile, Mr Serra has failed to present either a critique or an alternative to the president’s powerful mixture of tight monetary policy and generous social spending.

Business leaders, the natural constituency of the former governor of São Paulo, have griped about the growing role of the state in Brazil’s economy, championed by Ms Rousseff, and the need for fiscal and other market-friendly reforms, while complaining about his reluctance to take the initiative.

In a televised debate before the poll Mr Serra ducked the chance of direct exchanges with Ms Rousseff in a lacklustre performance.

Political analysts said it would be impossible to avoid a potentially bruising confrontation in a run-off between two candidates.

Furthermore, the second round will boost the standing of Ms Silva, Mr Lula da Silva’s former environment minister and no relation, who resigned first from his government and then from his party after public disagreements with senior ministers, including Ms Rousseff.

Merval Pereira, a political commentator, had said the second round could see Ms Silva in the role of kingmaker and that her support had already been courted by senior figures in Mr Serra’s party, including Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the former president.

Investors have to date largely ignored the election, believing it to be a non-event on the assumption that neither Ms Rousseff nor Mr Serra would deviate much from the orthodox macroeconomic policies pursued by Mr Lula da Silva and Mr Cardoso over the past 16 years.

Analysts have believed that, even if Ms Rousseff failed to win on Sunday, she would go on to victory in the second round – an assumption that now looks questionable. / Companies / Banks - Brazil and China in credit card leap / Companies / Banks - Brazil and China in credit card leap

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brazilian Leader’s Prot�g�e Likely to Prevail in Election -

Brazilian Leader’s Prot�g�e Likely to Prevail in Election -

Brasil's Red Hot Bond Market

Feature | SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2010
Brazil's Red-Hot Bond Market
With double-digit yields, Brazil's government bonds are drawing strong interest from investors around the world. Time to jump in?

BRAZILIAN STOCKS have been something of a disappointment this year, up just 1% and lagging behind the Dow Jones Emerging Markets Index. But the country's bonds are another story. They have been sizzling, helping to keep Brazil a favorite of global investors.

International bond-fund managers this year put at least $5.2 billion into all classes of Brazilian bonds as of Sept. 22, up from the previous record of $2.05 billion set in 2009, according to investment data firm EPFR Global in Cambridge, Mass. Brazil accounts for a little more than 10% of the record $34 billion inflow into dedicated emerging-market bonds.

And here is the best part: There is no sign that the market is overheating. Demand remains especially strong from investors in countries like Japan, where interest rates are below 1%.

Within Brazil's fixed-income universe, the $900-billion local government-bond market is a favorite, with a yield of about 11.33% for one-year bonds. With a little cooperation from the economy, these securities could deliver double-digit returns for some time.

Brazil's government debt is investment grade, with relatively little credit risk. The greater dangers would be a rise in inflation—now at about Brazil's targeted annual level of 4.6%—or a drop in the value of the real.

If investors in the U.S. and other countries with weak economies pull back from investing in projects in Brazil, the currency clearly would take a hit.

Some savvy investors think the risks are manageable. They see a stable local economy growing at 7%, and a strong financial position, with the country's cash reserves exceeding what it owes in interest on its debt to foreign countries.

"Our investors are very happy buying 11% government bonds and taking the risk on the real," says Alexander Gorra, head of international sales of BNY Mellon ARX in Rio de Janeiro. "The risk could mean a bigger payout if the real strengthens or stays steady."

The risk of a steep devaluation is low, says Sara Zervos, manager of the $13.4 billion Oppenheimer International Bond Fund (ticker: OIBAX). She expects the real to end the year stronger, at the equivalent of $1.65, up from a recent $1.67.

"My thinking on Brazil bonds is that everybody likes them, everybody wants them, and there's a food fight whenever there's an issue," says Zervos.

Record Breaker

International bond-fund managers are pouring money into Brazil's bonds

In fact, the market easily absorbed a recent $550-million issue.

The easiest way for individual investors to buy Brazil bonds is through a growing number of emerging-market bond funds and some dedicated offshore Brazil bond funds, such as Deutsche Bank's Brazil Bond Basket 2014 for high-net-worth individuals.

Oppenheimer launched its first emerging-markets bond fund, the Oppenheimer Emerging Markets Debt fund (OEMAX) on June 30 for the retail market. Brazil accounts for 15% of Oppenheimer's emerging-market debt, with real-denominated bonds accounting for around 60%, nearly all of it government issues. A month after that fund launched, Van Eck unveiled its latest exchange-traded fund for emerging-market bonds, the Market Vectors Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond (EMLC).

BlackRock has its three-year-old ETF called the iShares JP Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index fund (EMB). EMB is up 9.3% through Sept. 30. Outside of the retail sector, institutional investors and sovereign-wealth funds from Europe to Japan have their own Brazil-dedicated bond funds.

"There is a lot of appetite these days for local bonds," says Olivier Ginguene, portfolio manager at Pictet Asset Management in Geneva. "There's value there and the currency risk is stable."

THE OVERSEAS MARKET for Brazilian government bonds— offering the country's bonds in the U.S. and elsewhere— may be almost fully valued. Yields have fallen close to those of U.S. Treasuries, as investors scramble for a piece of the action.

Brazil's 2021 overseas bond was yielding around 3.78% recently, with a spread of 129 basis points, or 1.29 percentage points, over Treasuries. A year ago, the same bond yielded 183 basis points above Treasuries.

The Bottom Line

With the Brazilian economy growing at 7% and inflation at target levels, locally traded government bonds look attractive. But Brazil bonds traded overseas look pricey.

On the corporate-debt side, mining company Vale (VALE) sold $1.75 billion in overseas bonds Sept. 8, yielding just 4.6% with a spread of 210. Two days later, Vale's 10-year was lower at 4 5/8% with a spread of 175 over Treasuries. Demand for Brazilian bonds has kept up with supply.

"This market becomes a bubble when you start seeing corporate-debt spreads closer to what we are seeing for the sovereigns," says Michael Roche, an emerging-markets strategist at MF Global in New York. The spread on Brazil corporate debt over Treasuries, as registered by the JP Morgan Corporate Emerging Markets Bond Index, was recently 330 basis points.

As a result of all this, foreign investors account for nearly 10% of Brazil's local government bond market, says Paulo Valle, the sub-secretary of public debt at the Brazilian National Treasury. That's up from 0.7% in 2005, leaving some investors to wonder if it might be getting too late to get in on the action, especially in light of the jump in stocks just this past week.

Take heart, it probably isn't too late, at least in the local government-bond sector. Those double-digit yields look unlikely to vanish anytime soon.

KENNETH RAPOZA, a free-lance writer, covers Brazilian markets.