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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brazil Central Bank Raises Interest Rates Again In July

Brazil's central bank, raising interest rates more than expected for the second time in three meetings yesterday, wrong footing a lot of analysts (myself included) and justifying the nickname the "Bundesbank of Latin America" as it showed it is ready to push up lending costs as fast as it feels necessary to fight inflation. The real rose to a nine-year high on the back of the news.

Policy makers led by President Henrique Meirelles raised the overnight rate by three quarters of a percentage point to 13 percent in a bid - as they put it - to bring inflation back to target in a "timely fashion".

The increase aims to slow domestic spending as food and energy costs continue to rise. Consumer prices rose 0.63 percent in the month through mid-July, pushing annual inflation to a 32-month high, according to the latest data from the national statistics agency. Inflation as measured by the benchmark IPCA-15 index quickened to annual rate of 6.30 percent, close to the upper end of the central bank's 2.5 percent to 6.5 percent target range.

On the present showing Mereilles and his team look set to miss their inflation goal for the first time since 2003 this year. For 2009, inflation forecasts are on the rise and consumer prices and many economists expect inflation to increase in the 5 percent range. Yesterday's increase from the central bank, which was the biggest in more than five years, puts the key rate at the same level it was in January 2007, canceling the effect of five of the six rate cuts last year.

Brazil's interest rate is now the the second-highest inflation-adjusted one in the world after Turkey's. Brazil's real interest rate, or the benchmark 13 percent rate minus annual inflation of 6.06 percent, is 6.94 percent. Turkey has the world's highest so-called real interest rate at 7.55 percent.

Also we learn that Brazil's economy created a record 309,442 government-registered jobs in June as higher domestic demand coupled with rising commodity prices lead companies to add staff and increase output according to a July 17 Labor Ministry report showed. Of these new jobs Brazil's agricultural sector accounted for the lions share. The agricultural sector was responsible for the creation of 92,580 of the new jobs created in June, the highest monthly figure recorded ever since the current time series began in 2003.

Agricultural exports are up 15.22% on June 2007, and 5.6% over May. One highlight of Brazil's new agricultural prosperity is grape production, which registered the highest job generation rates in the northeastern states of Pernambuco and Bahia.

Agricultural income should total 155.27 billion reais (US$ 71.4 billion) in Brazil in 2008, according to the Strategic Management Advisory (AGE) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply. The income is calculated based on crop surveys by the National Food Supply Company (Conab) and the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

The estimated value for this year includes 20 crops, including temporary ones such as soybean, maize, rice, wheat, sugarcane, and permanent ones such as coffee, cocoa, orange and grape. Compared with last year, the figure represents growth of 17.11% after inflation.

Another 14 products saw an increase in income in 2008. The greatest increments were those of bean (87.78%), coffee (48.69%), wheat (40.79%), soybean (31,83%) and maize (30.65%). Income results per region show that the Midwest and the South have the highest income expansion rates in comparison with last year.

The overall economy grew 5.8 percent in the first quarter after expanding 6.2 percent in the fourth, the fastest in 3 1/2 years. Unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in June, its second-lowest level in more than six years, the statistics agency said today.

In Q2 business confidence - as calculated by CNI - dropped from 62 to 59, in line with seasonal patterns. The index did however remain well above the 50 break-even level. The fall was clearest among the larger corporation (down from 64.4 to 60.3), followed by medium companies (down from 60.5 to 57.8). Confidence among the small businesses also diminished, albeit at a lower pace, dropping from 60.2 to 58.4.

Consumer confidence (FGV) also fell sharply in June. The index tumbled from 107.2 to 101.9, - mostly as the result of a deterioration in the current assessment, which fell from 112.9 to 101.2. However, future expectations were also down - from 104.2 to 102.3. Th sharp slowdown in the current assessment suggest that inflation is having a corrosive impact on the disposable income of the population.

Brazil's real rose to a nine-year high after the central bank increased its benchmark interest rate advancing 0.4 percent to 1.5767 per dollar at 3:34 p.m. New York time, after most trading in Brazil had ended, from 1.5836 the day before.

The real has now gained 12.9 percent this year, the biggest rise against the dollar among the 16 most-actively traded currencies, while the Bovespa is up approximately 10% from its January level, implying a 20% gain in US dollar terms.

1 comment:

euarte said...

They would do as well to tax imports of dollars via the carry trade. These funds serve no economic purpose. They are not invested in anything. They inflate the R$ and make exports difficult.
By raising the borrowing rates one only inflates the R$ more and continues the anti-export policy.
So who is making money? The banks and other private financial institutions.
Who funds Lula? You got it.