By Vinicius Torres Freire (via Folha).
Does anyone out there still remember the noise about Brazil being the sixth world economy, ahead of the UK? The story was all over the news last year.
But it’s been a year now since we’ve been hearing that “Mexico is the new darling of Latin America” and that Brazil lost its grace.
Poor Mexicans. The “new darling” stories almost always end up in disgrace.
After the Latin debt crisis and the 80s recessions, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico would periodically exchange between themselves the “new darling” title among analysts and investors just to see themselves fall in disgrace right after.
So where do all these “new darling” rumors emerge from? Answer: financial markets. The gossip usually resonates there.
Financial markets are well articulated with the media. They produce piles of studies and reports. They have specialists that speak with journalists and the like. They are the sector of the economy with the highest capacity and need to change the direction of their investments overview quickly.
The decisions of the powerful money managers change the moods of the economic world in seconds. More well-founded opinions from large banks, however, can change the fate of an entire economic region for a decade. Therefore, it is not just about fads and frills.
But the very often irrelevant noise starts right there. What’s substantially new about the economies of Mexico and Brazil when compared to 2010? Nothing. What about 2008? Almost nothing.
Mexico and Brazil have been stumbling at themselves since the 1990s. They grow less than Argentina and Chile.
They now say that Mexico might take advantage of the rising cost of Chinese labor, which would reopen the doors of U.S. imports. It might. A little bit. With marginal effect in the medium term.
Brazil and Mexico are not playing any tournament (and, if they were, they would be both losers).
Mexico can be a good place to shift some of the financial focus. That’s what the noise is all about.
The financial media got bored with Brazil’s government interventions in the market, the devaluation of the real, low interest rates and the very real fact that Brazilian companies are earning less.
Strangely, however, Brazil still has credit. Foreign investment is at the same levels of 2011, which was unexpectedly high. Even with all government interventions in the financial market, foreigners are still hanging around.
Even more amazing, most businessmen are holding on to their employees in hopes that the economy will turnaround soon.
In other words, with two years of 2% growth and no fundamental change, it is a wonder that confidence in Brazil is still so high.