Friday, October 28, 2011

Few and Far Between

You will have noticed that my posts have gotten less regular and less frequent - well, it will not improve - I will start assuming a new international assignment soon, which will divert much of my (spare) attention to the new job.

However, as a "wrap-up" of the past few years, I have gotten the opportunity to present my experience in Brazil at the GIZ in Bonn.

If you are interested, you are welcome to show up for my presentation (in German). Save the date:

Vortrag: Land der Zukunft? Erfahrung eines Deutschen Managers in Brasilien
Datum/Uhrzeit: 29.11.2009 (Dienstag), 19h30

Ort: Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 40, 53113 Bonn

Flyer Vorderseite und Rückseite.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

China 4 - 0 Brazil

When Brazil was competitive
I know that I am exagerating when I say that Brazil is only competitive in football (soccer) - even though they have recently lost a friendly against Germany. 

However, after this loss they decided to cancel all "classics" (games against top teams) and only play against teams such as Ghana, Guinea and others. A recent game against Argentina in the Roca Cup ended 0-0 - the rematch will be at the end of this month.

Unfortunately this reaction is very exemplary for a Brazilian behavior style. Recently, imported cars have been flooding into the country - especially Hyundai has been very succesful and is even in the process of building a huge plant. On the lower end, the Chinese companies JAC and Chery have entered the country with a bang and riding on a weak USD, opening dealerships and advertising heavily - both are also planning on building plants. And on the upper end, Jaguar, BMW (also planning a plant), Audi, and even Mini have been extremely succesful catering to the wealthy. What was the reaction of the government?: Slap on (even) more taxes on imported cars (i.e. outside of Mercosul) and cars with less than 65% local content (local producers have 45 day grace period). This will raise the average price of most cars not qualifying for exemption by 25% or more, thus killing off the efforts of many of the new emergents. This will not help the Brazilian car industry which already sells expensive and mediocre cars - ask a Brazilian for his opinion the best that is locally produced and he will, without a blink of the eye tell you: Omega!

Where was I? Competitiveness: The World Economic Forum has released their latest competitiveness index and, surprise surprise, Brazil did not showcase well. And this is not related to the companies itself - although there are also weakness there. Brazil finished overall in 53rd place (of 142), better by 5 positions since the last time and on par with India (56th), but way behind China (26th). What drags down Brazil are
"[...] the lagging quality of its overall infrastructure (104th) despite its Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC), its macroeconomic imbalances (115th), the poor overall quality of its educational system (115th), the rigidities in its labor market (121st), and insufficient progress to boost competition (132nd) are areas of increasing concern."
Brazil is saved by market size (10th) - but even business environment (31st), financial markets (40th), technological adoption (44th) and innovation (47) are only midfield.

So overall, Brazil has improved but still is far from being a future leader and if we look very closely, indicators under strong governmental influence perform much poorer than those which are driven by the private sector... Drive on the local roads, fly into any airport, try to hire somebody with an intermediate level of English-speaking skills (or try to fire them later!) and you will know why.

Well, at least Brazil is still better than Argentina in competitiveness. Argentina is currently ranked 85th.

BTW, the top 10 this year were Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, Finland, United States, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and United Kingdom.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Groundhog Day in Brazil

No, this is Barcelona airport (and yes, it is in operation)

I came back from Spain last weekend and came through two airports there: Palma and Barcelona. Both are huge and whereas Palma is a bit old, it is still fairly efficient and even sports valet parking. Barcelona by contrast is a modern, efficient and great airport to fly into and out of or to connect through: Transit is fast, waiting times short, with a great shopping area and a pretty good Spanair lounge.

Then I flew into Guarulhos and noticed how much there still is to do...But the airport claims to be ready for the world cup, with a MOP (Modulo Operacional Provisiorio, i.e. a provisional terminal). I was also "lucky" to experience this MOP on a business trip this week: Whoever has flown through many of these RyanAir airports in Europe will be able to picture this well: A very simple structure with many chairs and a small counter which sells semblances of food - if you are willing to fork out 3.00USD for a bottle of water - has the charm of a bus station. Oh yes, my flight also left late and came back late the next day... And I also did not find a parking space, I did what everybody does. As there is no alternative and the generous 3000 spaces are never enough...

What else is new this week?

  • The minister of tourism quit after allegations of corruption - that is number 5 this year. The new minister (also from the PMDB) has named his number one priority getting ready for the world cup. Sounds like Groundhog Day to me.
  • A new hobby of thieves, blowing up ATMs, seems to be catching on. This week, the 500th (yes, five hundred) ATM was blown up trying to get some easy money. Unfortunately for the culprits, the money was tainted with special ink, as is the case of most ATM if they are tampered with. The Civil Police is searching chemical industries in the whole region for possible losses of chemical products used to make explosives... 500 ATM, that is alot of explosive in just 9 months...
  • Inflation is expected to hit around 7.5% this year, and GDP growth should not surpass 3.5%
  • The USD hit a 12-month high vs the BRL - this will help exports and possibly slow down some speculative capital inflows
  • To protect the Brazilian car industry, the government has increased the IPI (a tax) for small cars with no Brazilian components to 35% (up from 7%)
  • Construction Workers at the 2014 World Cup Stadiums in Rio and Belo Horizonte have been on strike (B.H. sind this week, Rio since September 1)
Looks like the last couple months will not be boring. ;-)

UPDATE 17.09.2011: According to the Infraero website, the MOP in Guarulhos is not temporary, but can be used "for a very long time, if required".