Monday, April 25, 2011

1000km of traffic jam... every day

Lies, nothing but lies...

I just read that in 2010, Germany had a total of 400.000km of registered traffic jams. I am not really sure how those were computed, but I assume they took the maximum length per occurence. This would then amount to a total of 1095km per day. The automobile club ADAC, the voice of all German drivers, advocates building more and better streets, claiming the situation to be unbearable.

Clearly, nobody from the ADAC has ever been to São Paulo. On any single day at any single time, please feel free to visit the website of Apontador/Maplink, which, in a partnership with the Radio Station Sulamerica (specialized in traffic reports and affiliated to the insurance broker ING), will show you a picture that would make the Germans gasp.

On a normal day, before and after rush hours the website will register between 150 and 200km of traffic jams. In the mornings and evenings, the length can easily double. So, if we take morning, noon and evening as separate incidents, we also get 1000km of traffic jams a day... just in the metro area of São Paulo.

Personally, although I don't feel that way, I can be considered lucky: I have a 33km commute and it takes me 45-60min in the morning and 60-70min in the evening, putting my average speed at about 35-40km/h. The average in São Paulo is below 20km/h. The reason for my "luck" is that of my 33km, I have 29km on 2-4 lane expressways and drive against the flow (I live in town and work outside). Nevertheless, awful situations occur: A few weeks ago, like every morning, I left home at 6:25 - and I arrived at work at 10:40...

Time Magazine ran this nice article a few years ago, and every single word is true. Recently, I had a meeting scheduled for 9:00 on Avendida Paulista (downtown) and I live in the southern zone, ca. 18km away from there. I decided to play it safe and left home at 7:30. At 9:00 I was sitting inside a McDonald's, reading a newspaper and sipping a cappuccino after calling to the meeting and telling them I could not make it (nobody was upset, everybody understood the reason). I had simply given up

Why all of this? Road infrastructure is a mess, public transportation is not even close to adequate (I have seen small towns in Germany with a subway network of similar extension to the one in Sampa) and the amount of cars is amazing. The city of 11m people of has a total of 7m registered vehicles, of which 5.1m are passenger cars... and 1000 additional ones are added every day...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Shame of Being the World’s 7th Largest Economy 2011,

Worth a read: (Article from Brazzil Magazine, written by Professor Cristovam Buarque Monday [I would vote for him!], 18 April 2011)

In the 19th century, Victor Hugo refused to shake hands with Pedro II, the emperor of Brazil, because he was the ruler of a country living comfortably with slavery. Today, Victor Hugo would not shake the hand of a Brazilian to congratulate him for achieving seventh position among the international economic powers while living so comfortably with the surrounding social tragedy.

Continue here at ExpatBrazil

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BRIC(S) - Why South Africa?

I don't get it. Brazil, Russia, India and China all make sense from any perspective (and were coined in the original Goldman Sachs acronym). But South Africa? South Africa is not in the top GDP nations now and will not be in 2050. South Africa has no important industry to mention, no significant impact on geopolitics and does not fit in any major KPI. Even Jim O'Neill, who "invented" the BRIC doesn't see why this makes sense.

Therefore I see only two reasons why South Africa is now in the club, and not Mexico, Turkey or Indonesia (in my humble opinion far more suitable for the group).

1. The BRIC(S) need a foothold in Africa... or China wants to ensure that it's major target for foreign direct investments is covered by a strategic partner. (That is what O'Neill also believes) But if we are talking geopolitics Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey make at least as much sense.

2. BRICS sounds much better than BRICI, BRICT or BRIMC.

But I will not get sidetracked any further... back to Brazil.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Now official: Airports will not be ready for the World Cup

Reality today... and in 2014... and in 2016...
The renown (governmental) institute IPEA has now confirmed what most realists have known for a while: The airports will not be ready for the World Cup in 2014. Notable exemptions are Curitiba and Tom Jobim in Rio.

While the Minister for Civil Aviation (a brand new ministry) Wagner Bittencourt still claims that the timeplan is "adequate", he seems to be in denial, ignoring the IPEA data.

Experts have long advocated the privatisation of the airports to ensure that infrastructure grows ahead of (or at least with) deman - but the government remains stubborn that airports remain a national interest and thus must be state operated. Now it is too late...

Of the 13 airports under construction and modernisation, 9 will not be ready by 2014... among these the unimportant Sampa Guarulhos, Salvador and Brasília. And what is worse, these will not be ready for the 2016 olympics (Only Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte will be) - so do not plan any extensive travel outside of sporting events in 2014 or 2016.

This blog, as one of many sources, has repeatedly highlighted that there is a huge risk of the aiports, most specifically Guarulhos not being ready for the World Cup 2014, nor the Olympics in 2016. And this is not only based on other news sources or what I hear and read. I fly in and out of Guarulhos at least once a month and just recently signs have gone up announcing the modernisation and expansion of the security area and passport controls... Unfortunately, as in many cases, it will take a long time until something starts happening - but the renderings on the posters look nice.

Oh, and to add to the troubles, the Itaquera Stadium in Sampa, which apparently should host matches during the World Cup (if they ever get construction started), will not be ready for the Confederations Cup in 2013.

And I will not even get started on any bullet train discussion - this is just sad.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Growth in Europe Meets Growth in Brazil

Maybe not enough capacity in the future...

Last week I met with a few fellow (German) expats for drinks in Vila Madalena and during the evening we found out that of the six people at the table, four had been on the same flight coming in from Munich two days before.

It is pretty amazing. Just about a year or so ago, Lufthansa flights from Germany were full, but not to the point of bursting. This has clearly changed. On my flight to Germany about two weeks ago, they transported two passengers on the jump seat... on the way back, same thing. In addition, at least four people were downgraded, frustrating my upgrade attempt.

Lufthansa already has daily flights from MUC and FRA to GRU and will also take on FRA to RIO this October. In addition, TAM also flies daily to FRA from GRU and RIO. I believe that this will not be enough - I have heard rumors of taking in a 747 for the MUC-GRU instead of the A340, which would offer another 70 pax seats (the A380 will never fly the route as GRU is barely equipped to receive a normal 747). I have also heard a rumor of DUS-GRU and of TAM taking on GRU-ZRH in addition to the daily Swiss flight.

If you consider the amount of German companies in Brazil and the growth both countries are going through, the Lufthansa-Exec responsible for South America clearly has a "good Problem" on his hand right now... The only frustrating thing about all of this, is that all flights will go through the GRU and GIG gateways... clearly a disaster.

Crisis, what crisis?

PS, Korean Air apparently read my post about Hyundai ;-) and is increasing the frequency of flights between Seoul, Los Angeles and São Paulo. Thanks,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ipad to be produced in Brazil

Now this is interesting news. According to market rumors, Apple is planning a billion dollar investment in a factory in Brazil to produce, among other things, the ipad 2... And there is more than a rumor to it. I know where the site is located... on the freeway (between Jundiaí and Indaiatuba) that I often take on weekends to a nice hotel fazenda. In the past months I had wondered about a huge building sporting the Foxconn-Logo on the side, but stupid me never considered that this might be for Apple.

Surely there is a huge fiscal and financial incentive involved, in addition to an ipad costing half of what it would if it had to be imported, thus making it accessible to a much larger part of the Brazilian population. Currently, the ipad sells for an eyewatering USD1000 in Brazil.

Apparently production is to start in November. If this is true, then the price for ipads in Brazil will fall by half and Brazil will have a nice hightech toy to export. The only problem about the export is that the ipads will have to pass through the Guarulhos or Viracopos Airports or the Santos Port. But let that be our worry when the time arrives.

Apple-afficionados, get ready...