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CRS — Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The United States has traditionally enjoyed cooperative relations with Brazil, which is the seventh-largest economy in the world and is recognized by the Obama Administration’s National Security Strategy as an emerging center of influence. Administration officials have often highlighted Brazil’s status as a multicultural democracy, referring to the country as a natural partner that shares values and goals with the United States. Bilateral ties have been strained from time to time, however, as the countries’ occasionally divergent national interests and independent foreign policies have led to disagreements. U.S.-Brazilian relations have been particularly strained over the past year as a result of alleged National Security Agency (NSA) activities inside Brazil. Nevertheless, the countries continue to engage on issues such as trade, energy, security, racial equality, and the environment.

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Brazil — Bank Ownership, Lending, and Local Economic Performance During the 2008-2010 Financial Crisis

April 3, 2014 Comments off

Bank Ownership, Lending, and Local Economic Performance During the 2008-2010 Financial Crisis
Source: Federal Reserve Board

While the finance literature often equates government banks with political capture and capital misallocation, these banks can help mitigate financial shocks. This paper examines the role of Brazil’s government banks in preventing a recession during the 2008-2010 financial crisis. Government banks in Brazil provided more credit, which offset declines in lending by private banks. Areas in Brazil with a high share of government banks experienced increases in lending, production, and employment during the crisis compared to areas with a low share of these banks. We find no evidence that lending was politically targeted or that it caused productivity to decline in the short-run.

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014
Source: Towers Watson

This is a study of the 13 largest pension markets in the world and accounts for more than 85% of global pension assets. The countries included are Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The study also analyses seven countries in greater depth by excluding the six smallest markets (Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa).

The analysis includes:

  • Asset size, including growth statistics, comparison of asset size with GDP and liabilities
  • Asset allocation
  • Defined benefit and defined contribution share of pension assets
  • Public and private sector share of pension assets.

Statistical Signs of Social Influence on Suicides

February 24, 2014 Comments off

Statistical Signs of Social Influence on Suicides
Source: arXiv.org

Certain currents in sociology consider society as being composed of autonomous individuals with independent psychologies. Others, however, deem our actions as strongly influenced by the accepted standards of social behavior. The later view was central to the positivist conception of society when in 1887 \’Emile Durkheim published his monograph Suicide (Durkheim, 1897). By treating the suicide as a social fact, Durkheim envisaged that suicide rates should be determined by the connections (or the lack of them) between people and society. Under the same framework, Durkheim considered that crime is bound up with the fundamental conditions of all social life and serves a social function. In this sense, and regardless of its extremely deviant nature, crime events are somehow capable to release certain social tensions and so have a purging effect in society. The social effect on the occurrence of homicides has been previously substantiated (Bettencourt et al., 2007; Alves et al., 2013), and confirmed here, in terms of a superlinear scaling relation: by doubling the population of a Brazilian city results in an average increment of 135 % in the number of homicides, rather than the expected isometric increase of 100 %, as found, for example, for the mortality due to car crashes. Here we present statistical signs of the social influence on the suicide occurrence in cities. Differently from homicides (superlinear) and fatal events in car crashes (isometric), we find sublinear scaling behavior between the number of suicides and city population, with allometric power-law exponents, β=0.836±0.009 and 0.870±0.002, for all cities in Brazil and US, respectively. The fact that the frequency of suicides is disproportionately small for larger cities reveals a surprisingly beneficial aspect of living and interacting in larger and more complex social networks.

CRS — Status of the WTO Brazil-U.S. Cotton Case

February 11, 2014 Comments off

Status of the WTO Brazil-U.S. Cotton Case (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Library)

The so-called “Brazil cotton case” is a long-running World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case (DS267) initiated by Brazil—a major cotton export competitor—in 2002 against specific provisions of the U.S. cotton program. In September 2004, a WTO dispute settlement panel ruled that (1) certain U.S. agricultural support payments for cotton distorted international agricultural markets and should be either withdrawn or modified to end the market distortions; and (2) U.S. Step-2 payments and agricultural export credit guarantees for cotton and other unscheduled commodities were prohibited under WTO rules and should be withdrawn.

Dividing the Pie in Brazil: Income Distribution, Social Policies and the New Middle Class

January 28, 2014 Comments off

Dividing the Pie in Brazil: Income Distribution, Social Policies and the New Middle Class
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Brazil has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and inequality. This reduction is explained by strong growth but also by effective social policies. Besides growth, public services and cash transfers have played the biggest role, the latter notably through the successful “Bolsa Familia” programme. Among public services, improved access to education has played a major role, allowing more Brazilians to move into better-paid jobs. However, shortages in physical school infrastructure are limiting the hours of instruction that students receive. The high drop-out rate needs to be reduced through early interventions such as expanding early-childhood education, by reducing grade-repetition and through more tailored support for those at risk. The quality of teaching could also be raised through more in-service teacher training and stronger performance incentives for teachers. Performance of public services devoted to health and transports has been mixed. Public health services are widely available but suffer from underfunding and training places for medical staff need to be expanded. The public urban transport system suffers from a shortage of investment which is urgently needed to upgrade capacity. Regarding cash transfers, the success of “Bolsa Familia” and new programmes put in place under the umbrella of the “Brasil sem Miseria” programme is remarkable but transfer payments remain too heavily focused on pension benefits. Giving more priority to “Bolsa Familia” and “Brasil sem Miseria” while limiting the real growth of pension expenditures in the future would improve the effectiveness of social expenditures for reducing poverty and inequality.

Brazilian economy is expanding again but long-term challenges remain, says OECD

October 23, 2013 Comments off

Brazilian economy is expanding again but long-term challenges remain, says OECD
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Brazil has moved up the ranks of the world’s largest economies while making economic growth ever more inclusive. Renewed economic dynamism will allow it to continue converging with more advanced economies and ensuring that disadvantaged groups share in the benefits of future growth, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Survey of Brazil.

Tweeting News Articles: Readership and News Sections in Europe and the Americas

October 15, 2013 Comments off

Tweeting News Articles: Readership and News Sections in Europe and the Americas
Source: Sage Open

In this article we investigate the impact of social media readership to the editorial profile of newspapers. We analyze tweets containing links to news articles from eight of the largest national newspapers in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Germany. The data collection follows the first two weeks of October 2012 and includes 2,842,699 tweets with links to news articles. Twitter-shortened links were resolved using a three-pass routine and assigned to 1 of the 21 newspaper sections. We found the concentration of links to news articles posted by top users to be lower than reported in the literature and the strategy of relaying headlines on Twitter via automatic news aggregators (feeds) to be inefficient. The results of this investigation show which sections of a newspaper are the most and least read by readers in different parts of the world, with German readers placing greater emphasis on Politics and Economy; Brazilians on Sports and Arts; Spaniards on Local and National news; Britons and Americans on Opinion and World news. We also found that German and Spanish readers are more likely to read multiple national newspapers, while British readers more often resort to foreign sources of news. The results confirm that feedback to news items from a large user base is pivotal for the replication of content and that newspapers and news items can be clustered according to the editorial profile and principles of newsworthiness inherited from legacy media. The results of this investigation shed light onto the networked architecture of journalism that increasingly depends on readership agency.

Country Analysis Brief: Brazil

October 2, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Brazil
Source: Energy Information Administration

The latest complete EIA statistics for all countries (2010) indicate Brazil is the 8th largest energy consumer in the world and the third largest in the Americas, behind the United States and Canada. Total primary energy consumption in Brazil has increased by more than one third in the past decade because of sustained economic growth. EIA 2010 statistics show Brazil is the 10th largest energy producer in the world. In addition, Brazil has made great strides in increasing its total energy production, particularly oil and ethanol. Increasing domestic oil production has been a long-term goal of the Brazilian government, and recent discoveries of large offshore, pre-salt oil deposits could transform Brazil into one of the largest oil producers in the world.

Total Brazilian energy consumption grew to 11.7 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2011. The largest share of Brazil’s total energy consumption comes from oil and other liquid fuels (47%), followed by hydroelectricity (35%) and natural gas (8%). Additionally, Brazil is consuming increasing amounts of biomass in both the residential and industrial sectors.

Tweeting News Articles: Readership and News Sections in Europe and the Americas

September 26, 2013 Comments off

Tweeting News Articles: Readership and News Sections in Europe and the Americas
Source: Sage Open

In this article we investigate the impact of social media readership to the editorial profile of newspapers. We analyze tweets containing links to news articles from eight of the largest national newspapers in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Germany. The data collection follows the first two weeks of October 2012 and includes 2,842,699 tweets with links to news articles. Twitter-shortened links were resolved using a three-pass routine and assigned to 1 of the 21 newspaper sections. We found the concentration of links to news articles posted by top users to be lower than reported in the literature and the strategy of relaying headlines on Twitter via automatic news aggregators (feeds) to be inefficient. The results of this investigation show which sections of a newspaper are the most and least read by readers in different parts of the world, with German readers placing greater emphasis on Politics and Economy; Brazilians on Sports and Arts; Spaniards on Local and National news; Britons and Americans on Opinion and World news. We also found that German and Spanish readers are more likely to read multiple national newspapers, while British readers more often resort to foreign sources of news. The results confirm that feedback to news items from a large user base is pivotal for the replication of content and that newspapers and news items can be clustered according to the editorial profile and principles of newsworthiness inherited from legacy media. The results of this investigation shed light onto the networked architecture of journalism that increasingly depends on readership agency.

Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs

September 17, 2013 Comments off

Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs
Source: Law Library of Congress

A report titled Guest Worker Programs was recently added to the list of reports posted on the Law Library of Congress website under “Current Legal Topics” where you can also find a range of other comparative law reports on various topics.

The Guest Worker Programs report is based on a study conducted by staff of the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC). The report describes programs for the admission and employment of guest workers in fourteen selected countries:

  • Australia,
  • Brazil,
  • Canada,
  • China,
  • Germany,
  • Israel,
  • Japan,
  • Mexico,
  • Norway,
  • the Russian Federation,
  • South Korea,
  • Spain,
  • the United Arab Emirates, and
  • the United Kingdom.

It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. The complete report is also available in PDF.

The report includes a comparative analysis and individual chapters on each country, the EU, and relevant international arrangements. It provides a general overview of a variety of immigration systems, and addresses issues such as eligibility criteria for the admission of guest workers and their families, guest workers’ recruitment and sponsorship, and visa requirements. The report further discusses the tying of temporary workers to their employers in some countries; the duration and the conditions that apply to switching employers; the terms, including the renewability, of guest workers’ visas; and the availability of a path to permanent status.

Brazil’s Changing Religious Landscape: Roman Catholics in Decline, Protestants on the Rise

July 18, 2013 Comments off

Brazil’s Changing Religious Landscape: Roman Catholics in Decline, Protestants on the Rise
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Since the Portuguese colonized Brazil in the 16th century, it has been overwhelmingly Catholic. And today Brazil has more Roman Catholics than any other country in the world – an estimated 123 million. But the share of Brazil’s overall population that identifies as Catholic has been dropping steadily in recent decades, while the percentage of Brazilians who belong to Protestant churches has been rising. Smaller but steadily increasing shares of Brazilians also identify with other religions or with no religion at all, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Brazilian census data.

Connecting people for development: Why public access ICTs matter

July 17, 2013 Comments off

Connecting people for development: Why public access ICTs matter
Source: Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School

Libraries, telecenters, and cybercafés play a critical role in extending the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to a diverse range of people worldwide. However, their ability to contribute to development agendas has come into question in recent times. The Global Impact Study was designed to address this debate by generating evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access ICTs in eight countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, the Philippines, and South Africa. This report summarizes the study’s key findings, situating public access in the context of national development, discussing some disputed issues, and providing recommendations for policymakers, public access practitioners and researchers. The results show that a central impact of public access is the promotion of digital inclusion through technology access, information access, and development of ICT skills. Both users and non-users report positive impacts in various social and economic areas of their lives.

2012 Global multichannel consumer survey

May 7, 2013 Comments off

2012 Global multichannel consumer survey

Source: PriceWaterhouse Coopers

The 2012 global multichannel retail consumer survey was completed by more than 11,000 respondents from 11 different countries. For PwC, this is our most comprehensive research to date on multichannel retailing. In order to truly understand the trends and spot the patterns in multichannel shopping, we surveyed only those consumers who self-identified as online shoppers.

The 11 countries covered in the survey were:

  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Russia
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

National Assessments on Gender and STI

March 13, 2013 Comments off

National Assessments on Gender and STI

Source: Women in Global Science and Technology

The National Assessments on Gender and STI are based on the Gender Equality – Knowledge Society (GE&KS) indicator framework, which was developed to address the fact that worldwide, women’s capacity to participate in science, technology and innovation is grossly under-developed and under-utilized. Not only do they have less access to information and technology, they are poorly represented in educational, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities. It brings together gender-sensitive data on key areas in the knowledge society (ICT, science, technology and innovation) with gender indicators of health, economic and social status to assess the barriers and opportunities for women.

A pilot assessment of six countries and one region took place during 2012 with funding from the Elsevier Foundation: Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, the United States, and the European Union.

Key Findings

The major finding of this study is that the knowledge gender divide continues to exist in all countries, even those which have a highly-developed knowledge society. In all countries in this review – which represent the leading knowledge-based economies in the world – the knowledge society is failing to include women to an equal extent, and in some cases, their inclusion is negligible.

  • Numbers of women in the science, technology and innovation fields are alarmingly low in the world’s leading economies, and are actually on the decline in many, including the United States.
  • Women remain severely under-represented in engineering, physics and computer science — less than 30% in most countries – while the numbers of women working in these fields are also declining.
  • Women have lower levels of access to the productive resources necessary to support active engagement in the knowledge society and related professions – property (land); finance; technology; and education.
  • Female parity in the science, technology and innovation fields is tied to multiple factors, with the most influential being higher economic status, larger roles in government and politics, access to economic, productive and technological resources, and a supportive policy environment. Findings also show that women gain ground in countries that have health and childcare, equal pay, & gender mainstreaming.
  • Access to education is not a solution in and of itself and neither is economic status. It’s only one part of what should be a multi-dimensional policymaking approach. There is no simple solution.

CRS — Rising Economic Powers and U.S. Trade Policy

December 20, 2012 Comments off

Rising Economic Powers and U.S. Trade Policy (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A handful of developing countries are becoming major players in the global economy due, in part, to their large populations, rising trade flows, and rapidly growing economies. These evolving economies are likely to be of increasing interest to the 113th Congress. Led by China, these rising economic powers (REPs) include Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey. Based on purchasing power parity estimates, China, India, Brazil, and Russia are now among the 10 largest economies in the world and Mexico (#11), Indonesia (#15) and Turkey (#16) are not far behind. With large economies and rising shares of world trade flows, the REPs have greater involvement in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and dispute settlement cases, have protested with greater frequency U.S. economic and trade policies, and are more able and willing to deflect or reject U.S. trade and market access demands.

Although they have made great economic strides, any of these REPs could stumble if they do not take steps to improve their business climates by undertaking a range of trade, regulatory, and structural reforms. At the same time, other large developing countries that have enormous economic potential, such as Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, and Vietnam could rise if they successfully address underlying political and economic challenges.

U.S. exports to the REPs and other developing countries have become an increasingly important source of growth for the U.S. economy. If the United States is to maximize its export potential and boost its living standards, U.S. exporters and investors may need to have better access to the REP markets. Trade and investment barriers remain considerably higher in most of the REPs than in the United States and other advanced countries. Efforts have stalled in these countries to reduce their barriers further, and several REPs have reactivated industrial policies or found ways to take advantage of gaps in the world trade rules to promote home companies at the expense of foreign companies.

The United States’ ability to persuade these emerging economic powers to embrace the principles of free and fair trade is constrained by growing differences over the role of the state in economic activity. The more interventionist practices and philosophies of REP governments coincide with a desire to maintain “policy space” to promote development of their economies via policies that often appear to violate the letter or spirit of WTO rules and obligations. Persuading the REPs that a strengthened multilateral trading system is squarely in their national economic interests and a way to move their domestic economic reforms forward remains a challenge.

As global power and prosperity is reconfigured, U.S. trade policymakers face a number of overlapping and complex issues relating to the role of future trade liberalizing negotiations, U.S. leverage in influencing REP economic reforms, and the management of the global trading system. Given the checkered history of the Doha Round, future progress on trade liberalization within the WTO may require new approaches. Principles that have guided multilateral trade negotiations in the past, such as unconditional most-favored-nation (MFN) and special and differential treatment (S&D), may need to be reexamined. Similarly, if the United States wishes to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) with large and more significant trading partners, it may need to consider deviations from its standard FTA template. At the same time, ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and a potential comprehensive U.S. FTA with the European Union (EU) could serve as incentives for the REPs to view multilateral or bilateral negotiations more favorably.

Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010

November 2, 2012 Comments off

Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in reproductive-aged women can cause adverse reproductive health outcomes, such as pregnancy complications, fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, stillbirths, and infant death (1–3). Data on tobacco use and SHS exposure among reproductive-aged women in low- and middle-income countries are scarce. To examine current tobacco use and SHS exposure in women aged 15–49 years, data were analyzed from the 2008–2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) from 14 low- and middle-income countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam. The results of this analysis indicated that, among reproductive-aged women, current tobacco smoking ranged from 0.4% in Egypt to 30.8% in Russia, current smokeless tobacco use was <1% in most countries, but common in Bangladesh (20.1%) and India (14.9%), and SHS exposure at home was common in all countries, ranging from 17.8% in Mexico to 72.3% in Vietnam. High tobacco smoking prevalence in some countries suggests that strategies promoting cessation should be a priority, whereas low prevalence in other countries suggests that strategies should focus on preventing smoking initiation. Promoting cessation and preventing initiation among both men and women would help to reduce the exposure of reproductive-aged women to SHS.

Social Security in the BRIC Countries

August 9, 2012 Comments off

Social Security in the BRIC Countries
Source: IMB Center for the Business of Government

Social security is a well-established part of the societal landscape in traditional westernized countries. There are a variety of approaches, and there are substantial differences between the operation of social security under the predominantly insurance-based (or Bismarckian) systems and the social assistance (Beveridge) systems. But both were developed and matured in the context of the industrialization of societies and both reflect the need to provide social protection in mass-scale workforces. It is recognised that (at least historically) the development of social security was seen as a natural complement to the process of economic development. Indeed, they can effectively be characterized as two sides of the same coin.

But what can we draw from the lessons of history and how much do these lessons apply to countries undergoing the 21st century equivalent of the industrial revolution? The so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries are experiencing the same kind of growth and rapid change experienced in western economies almost two centuries ago. Certainly, there are similar demands and pressures to balance economic advancement with social protection for those workers who provide the labour to fuel the economic development.

This report examines the existing nature of social security in the BRIC countries in order to consider the likely trajectory of its future development. The report provides a useful reminder that, whilst the underlying pressures are at least to some extent similar,
the starting places and norms are quite different. Also, the globalised world of the 21st century brings new pressures compared with the conditions that applied in the 19th and 20th centuries.

World Cities Culture Report 2012

August 2, 2012 Comments off

World Cities Culture Report 2012 (PDF)
Source: Mayor of London (UK)

The Mayor of London’s World Cities Culture Report 2012 is the biggest international survey of its kind. It has collected an unprecedented amount of data on the scope and impact of the cultural assets and activities that are produced and consumed in 12 major cities:
Berlin
Istanbul
Johannesburg
London
Mumbai
New York
Paris
São Paulo
Shanghai
Singapore
Sydney
Tokyo
Using 60 indicators and reports from each of the participating cities, the World Cities Culture Report 2012 shows that culture is seen as important as finance and trade and sits at the heart of public policy.

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