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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brazil Unemployment Rises In July

Brazil's unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 8.1 percent in July from the previous month, the national statistics agency said today. Unemployment in Brazil's six largest metropolitan areas was up from 7.8 percent in June.

This is a surprising number since we saw seasonally adjusted year on year job creation of 184,000 in July, down from the even higher 250,000 registered in June, but still pretty healthy I would have thought, and 3-month average continued to move up from 172,000 to 182,000. In fact on an unadjusted basis Brazil added 203,218 government- registered jobs last month, the best July performance ever.

That was a 60 percent over the 126,992 formal jobs created in July 2007, Labor Minister Carlos Lupi said in a statement. Brazil will add a record 2 million new formal jobs in 2008, according to Lupi, compared to his forecast of 1.8 million made at the start of the year. Of course, we need to remember the demographics here, which while they are currently extremely favourable to Brazil do mean that a very large number of new jobs do need to be created just to soak up the waves of new labour market entrants.

Meantime Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega reiterated yesterday that Brazil's reference Selic interest rate will only begin to fall when inflation approaches the 4.5% center-point of the government's annual target. Until this happens, only then will interest rates be reduced” Mantega said in a nationally broadcast radio interview. He added that Brazil’s retail inflation would end 2008 at between 6% and 6.5%. The official IPCA index ended July at a 12-month rate of 6.37% fuelled by food prices.

In the minutes of its July monetary policy meeting, the Central Bank said it would aim to bring inflation to the 4.5% center-point of the government's official target range by the end of 2009. Brazil's inflation targeting program permits a margin of tolerance of two percentage points on either side of the center point, allowing annual inflation up to 6.5%.

Current Account Deficit Increase

Brazil's annual current account deficit widened to a six-year high in July, reaching$19.5 billion over the previous 12 months period. This compared with an $18.1 billion annual deficit June. The July deficit was $2.1 billion.

At the present time inflows of foreign direct investment and investments in fixed income are more than enough to cover the deficit, but in the longer term the government and central bank need to work together to bring it under better control.

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