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Monday, June 25, 2007

Liquidity, Fund Inflows and Consumption

This in Bloomberg this morning:

Never have Gucci, Porsche, Jaguar, Prada and Tiffany been so in love with Brazil, home of the world's best-performing currency over the past three years.

The waiting list for Prada SpA's new spring-summer line of leather bags has swelled to 120 people at Dona Santa, a luxury goods store in the Brazilian coastal city of Recife. The most expensive bag in the collection costs $3,600, equal to about half the annual income of the average Brazilian household.

Porsche AG has sold more sports cars and SUVs in the South American country this year than it did in all of 2002 and 2003 combined. Grand Cru, the country's second-largest importer of premium wines, forecasts a doubling of sales this year.

The Brazilian real's three-year, 60 percent rally has pared the cost of imports, fueling a surge in luxury goods sales. That boom is part of a doubling of imports in the past three years that is curbing growth in Brazil's trade surplus and leaving the currency vulnerable to a decline in commodity exports.

The real has gained 9.9 percent this year to 1.9417 per dollar, buoyed by record exports of commodities such as iron ore, orange juice and soybeans and by foreign investment in the country's stock and bond markets.

The real's rally has buoyed the purchasing power of Brazilians, from the poorest to the richest. The average monthly household income in Brazil rose to 1,114 reais in May, or $574. That's double the $287 average three years earlier.

The highest-paid banker in Brazil today takes home $113,000 a month, up from $27,000 a month in 2004, according to Sao Paulo-based Grupo Catho, the country's largest recruiting company.

Brazil's list of billionaires has grown, climbing to 20 this year from four in 2003, according to Forbes magazine. Brazil's richest 1 percent earns as much as the bottom 50 percent, according to the state-funded Institute of Applied Economics.

Luxury goods sales will reach $4.3 billion this year, a 48 percent rise from two years ago, according to Sao Paulo-based research company GfK Indicator.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Unemployment in Brazil

The contents of this Bloomberg article this morning makes the demographic component in economic growth pretty clear I feel:

Brazil's unemployment rate was unchanged in May from the previous month as quickening economic growth prompted more people to come into the workforce, offsetting gains in hiring.

Unemployment in Brazil's six largest metropolitan areas was 10.1 percent, the national statistics agency said, higher than the median forecast of 9.9 percent in a Bloomberg survey of 16 economists.

``Unemployed people are looking for jobs as the positive outlook for the economy boosts companies' confidence to spend more on hiring,'' Sandra Utsumi, chief economist with BES Investimentos in Sao Paulo, said in a phone interview. ``Even though the jobless rate didn't drop, the perspective for the labor market is positive as the economy is growing.''

The difference with Germany, Japan etc (or Latvia, Lithuania for that matter) couldn't be clearer. The rate in Brazil doesn't fall dramatically with growth due to the large numbers of younger people who are continuously coming online.

Companies are hiring more as slowing inflation, lower interest rates and rising family incomes encourage consumers to boost their spending, said Utsumi. Market analysts expect the economy to grow 4.25 percent this year and 4 percent in 2008 compared with 3.7 percent in 2006, according to the median estimate a June 15 central bank survey.

Brazil's central bank slashed the benchmark interest rate to 12 percent, a record low, on June 6 from a 19.75 percent in September 2005, as inflation reached the lowest level in eight years.

Meanwhile back in Latvia annual wage inflation is running at 33%.