Brazil Is Growing, Like a Donkey’s Tail

     Brazil Is Growing, Like 
a Donkey's Tail

    Brazil’s 2005 budget
    was announced: US$ 4 billion for education,
    health, sanitation, highway maintenance work, housing, social
    programs, and everything that would contribute to further development.
    And US$ 73 billion to the pockets of foreign predators of our
    economy, those who speculate with the lives of Brazilian citizens.
    By Carlos

    Brazil and the numbers remain in open conflict. As if the festival of patriotism
    and foolishness displayed by sportscasters and commentators over the ridiculous
    number of medals obtained in the Olympic Games were not enough, now comes
    the government celebrating figures that would be comical were they not tragic:
    our GNP will not increase only 3,5% this year! We’ll grow by 4%…

    Well, at this rate, we
    are going to grow like a donkey’s tail: downwards. Needless to say, our national
    necessities increase much faster. Worse yet, amid cries of exaltation and
    good news praises, the government announced the 2005 Budget: US$ 3 billion
    (9 billion reais) to personnel expenses, US$ 6 billion (18 billion reais)
    to Social Security, and US$ 21 billion (63 billion reais) to cover the heavy
    cost of running the government.

    So, what’s to celebrate?

    Sounds okay, were it not
    for two figures—one announced in an apologetic fashion, the other hidden
    under the carpet. The first is that surrounded by a load of spending obligations
    the administration managed to put aside US$ 4 billion (12 billion reais) for
    direct investments.

    The second, the one that
    no one takes responsibility for, pertains to the US$ 73 billion (220 billion
    reais) we are paying and will pay until December, in interest on our foreign
    and domestic debts.

    The reader must confront
    the numbers: US$ 4 billion for education, health, sanitation, highway maintenance
    work, housing, social programs, and everything that would contribute to further
    development; and US$ 73 billion straight to the pockets of the relentless
    predators of our economy, money that will flow abroad or to the pockets of
    those who speculate with the lives of Brazilian citizens.

    Something yet more diabolic:
    this year’s the forecast for direct investments was US$ 4 billion, but as
    of September 1, the government had made available US$ 430,000, a little over
    10% of the meager total. The remainder still sits in the coffers, likely to
    join to the US$ 73 billion.

    What are they celebrating?
    According to President Lula, the anticipated inclusion of Brazil among the
    six largest economies in the world…

    Meanwhile, Labor Minister,
    Ricardo Berzoini, one of the few who is used to dealing with reality, forecasts
    that by the end of the year no more than 6 million jobs can be created.

    Four million would still
    be missing (from the 10 million promised) if we were still in campaign, however,
    because two years have gone by since taking office, 3 million must be added
    to the number of unemployed. Is it or is it not the fitting image of growth
    of a donkey’s tail?

    Jail Not Enough

    As soon as the Monetary
    Policy Committee released the minutes of its latest meeting, those in the
    financial system once again rushed to reach into the pockets of the innocent

    The men responsible for
    monetary policy, on top of not reducing the interest rate in effect by even
    a measly percentage point, also alerted to the possibility of raising rates
    in the future, as a means of avoiding the resurgence of inflation.

    Terrible news, but even
    worse were the consequences. In a move of their own, banks increased their
    rates in anticipation. Meanwhile, a worker who has not had a raise in years
    will now pay 140% interest when accessing the special credit line on his checking
    account. The same more or less applies to credit cards, not to mention personal
    or business loans, which rose to 62.8%.

    The government has yet
    to raise interest rates. It has only threatened; but to guard themselves—not
    society—from the threat, banks resorted to their master key. It’s no
    use for a John Doe to come looking for the bank manager with a newspaper clip
    showing that rates are at 16%. To the bank, it’s at 140%…

    Can’t the State see this
    kind of robbery? If it can’t do anything to arrest the thief, it could at
    least act in a way to protect the victim.

    The problem is that everything
    goes according to the guidelines of the neo-liberal economic model. To the
    speculators, all. To the victims of speculation, the legal sentence.

    Thanks to circumstances
    like these bank profits in Brazil have surpassed limits never established
    worldwide since the Phoenicians times.

    Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio’s daily Tribuna da Imprensa and
    is a representative of the Brazilian Press Association, in Brasília.
    He welcomes your comments at

    from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is
    a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of
    experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and
    political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, FL. His email:

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