Fora Temer

If you are not Brazilian, the title of this blog likely means nothing. It literally means “Oust Temer.”  Brazilians hope that  their president will either be impeached or resign.  Currently, resignation does not appear to be likely.

My latest information is that in about six months time, Temer will be impeached on the grounds of corruption.  He never was elected, but took over after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached.

Dilma was sent packing in August 2016.   She became very unpopular in 2015 after Brazil’s economy went into recession due to falling commodity prices, most importantly oil and iron.  It was suspected that she had some involvement in the Car Wash (Lavo Jato) scandal, which involved kickbacks on contracts from Petrobras, but there was never any proof of this.  She was impeached due to “creative accounting” as follows:

Brazilian governments are required to meet budget surplus targets set in Congress. Ms Rousseff is accused of allowing creative accounting techniques involving loans from public banks to the treasury that artificially enhanced the budget surplus.

This gave the appearance that government accounts were in better shape than they actually were. The surplus is one of the measures taken into account by investors of how sound an economy is.

Ms Rousseff has always maintained she did not act criminally in budgetary affairs.
She says many other presidents, mayors and state governors always used the same creative accounting techniques and were never punished for them.

The president says this is merely being used as a legal excuse – that her impeachment is nothing but an attempted coup by the opposition.

The Lavo Jato scandal was enormous with investigations of 232 persons, including former Brazilian  President Lula.

Rousseff has claimed that her Vice President Temer at the time, was disloyal, and plotted with the opposition party to get rid of her.

President Temer is not being impeached for the Car Wash scandal, although many believe he had some involvement.   He is being impeached  for a meat inspection bribery scandal, called the “JBS meat scandal.” See link to the New York Times:

New York Times: JBS Meat Scandal

JBS is described as a global meat packing empire, and its CEO, Joesley Batista, has a tape recording between Temer and himself, implicating Temer in bribery corruption scandal. Temer claims the tape has been doctored, so technical experts will be need to authenticate the recording.

Impeachment proceedings may take at least  six months, so the legislature could send Temer packing before Christmas.  The next President would be a stand in, as elections will be held in 2018.

The economy of Brazil is likely not change much, with an enormous differences between the very wealthy upper class, and the large, poorly educated lower class.  Unemployment is likely to be above 10% but this  does not tell the full story, with high unemployment in the lower paying jobs.

Perhaps, what is missed is that through these impeachments, the concept of three branches of government, is working as it is designed. Companies can’t just slip bribes to legislators or the executive branch for favors.  At least sometimes they get caught by the courts and the penalties can be severe.

Democracies collapse as in Venezuela, when the executive branch colludes with the legislature to limit the power of the courts.  Or the president simply ignores the power of the courts.  What should emerge finally from Brazil, is the three branches of government are still sufficiently independent to keep the democratic process working.   A corrupt free Brazil is not around the corner, but neither is the situation in Venezuela or a number of African counties (Burundi and Zimbabwe come to mind) where democracy has vanished.

And it is further hoped that more  honest Brazilians will enter politics, in an effort to improve the government ruled by the people of Brazil.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Dilma Rousseff and Lava Jato

There is no evidence linking President Dilma Rouseff to the car wash scandal.   But, there is plenty of evidence linking others seeking her impeachment to this scandal,  including her vice president, Michel Temer.

But,  hopefully he does not follow Dilma out the door, as the next in line,  Eduardo Cunho, Speaker of the lower house, is being charged with money laundering in connection with the scandal.  An excellent article from the BBC is provided below:

Brazil Impeachment (BBC) 

Imagine you suspect your house was robbed, so you call the police, and they rob you for real.  I think this is the situation in Brazil.

The leaders  replacing Dilma may be worse than her.   Worse, the grounds for impeachment have been made too broad. The next president  must forever keep one eye on the politics of the lower house of congress.

The economy in Brazil is bad.  But, how much should be blamed on the president?  The past year was terrible for commodity prices, particularly oil and iron ore.  Everyone in Brazil knows how the government went on a  spending craze for new stadiums in 2014 prior to the World Cup.

But beginning late January to the first 10 days in January, oil prices have begun to recover.   The stock market, as measured by the index fund, EWZ in US dollars,  is up 51% in the last 3 months. The US market as measured by the S+P index is up 9% in the same period.   The real in the past week has risen 10% against the US dollar.   So, as Dilma is being shown the door,  I believe the economy of Brazil, which is a large part of the frustration with her,  is getting better.

Perhaps what went wrong, was the deterioration of the economy at a time of high expectations.  A 10% approval rating for President Dilma, is incredibly low.

There is an option to suspend President Dilma, for six months, with a simple majority.  I guess this would be the obvious choice if impeachment efforts fail to get the 2/3 needed to oust her.

Stay tuned,

Dave