Source: The Economist
The Economist released its latest Big Mac Index Study last weekend and, at least for those in Brazil or with very intensive contact to Brazil, the result is not a surprise. The Big Mac Index, according to the newspaper can be described as follows:
Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries.
If we apply this to Brazil and look at the chart above, we will see that according to this index, the BRL is overvalued against the USD by ca. 50%. Now this is fairly imprecise, as the Index does not show the relationship to GDP per person. The Economist recognized this and adjusted for GDP per person... and now the BRL seems even more overvalued...
Now I did study economics and although I have been outside of my field for quite a while, I believe that such a strong disconnect (BTW, also for Argentina) implies four things:
- The Big Mac Index is flawed (not likely),
- the Brazilian average GDP is set to rise to the level of the USA in a short timeframe (desireable but not likely), or
- that the BRL is in for a huge devaluation...
- or inflation within the next few months.
There is of course a further possibility: That the current scenario simply shows a temporary disconnect of several economic factors caused by fear of a destabilization of US and European economies, that several countries are threatened by defaults or at least rating downgrades and a flight to "safe harbors", such as Brazil is occuring.
I find it hard to believe that any of the four... five factors can explain the current scenario - but given the size of the gap I believe we are in for one severe indigestion.