Brazil: A honeymoon before the vows

3 min
Georges Dib
Georges Dib Economist for Latin America, Spain and Portugal

Newly sworn-in president Bolsonaro benefits from a honeymoon with financial markets and recovering business activity; the Manufacturing PMI ended the year close to an eight-month high. Consumers (making up two thirds of GDP) are the most confident since early 2014; a poll shows 64% of respondents believe the government will be “good” or “great”. Indeed, it has pledged to implement 50 “quick wins” in the first 100 days (decrees or bills that don’t need a constitutional majority in Congress). They aim to slash bureaucracy, enhance the business environment and combat fraud. So what’s the catch? An unstable policy platform, as we had warned last fall. Scratch the surface, and you will find internal disagreements. Bolsonaro backs a watered-down pension reform, while his economy minister prefers a “deep” one. Bolsonaro announced a financial transaction tax, before being contradicted by his chief of staff. Investors should wait for true reform vows before taking off to their honeymoon. The sword of Damocles of the pension overhaul continues to hang over Brazil’s borrowing costs.