The World Cup may be kicking off , but Brazil is not inthe mood to party.As far as the economy and stock market are concerned, the party of the last few years is over and a hangover has set in.Economic growth, which hummed along at over 4% a year for much of the past decade, has slowed to an annual pace ofjust 1.9%.
So what's gone wrong? Brazil is a major exporter of commodities, notably iron ore, and now that China's appetite for commoditieshas cooled, momentum has ebbed.
The domestic economy is unlikely tocome to the rescue: consumers overborrowed during the good times, while business confidence is also subdued. A rise in inflation to over 6% means that interest-rate hikes are likely to be in the offing, subduing growth further.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
What's more, the structural problems weighing on growth, which were easy to ignore during the commodities boom, haven't gone away.
The main long-term worry is that Brazil doesn't invest enough. It only devotes around a fifth of its national income to investment, compared to 25% for the average emerging market.
On top of that, Brazil's track record of implementing public investment programmes is "woeful", says Capital Economics. No wonder, then, that only two-thirds of the pre-World Cup investment programme has been completed.
Red tape is also a perennial problem and recent government meddling with petrol and energy prices has rattled businesses,making themeven less likely to invest.
So it's no surprise that the benchmark Bovespa index slid by over 20% last year. But this could be a good entry point. Brazil is now on a cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio of 10.2, making it one of the world's cheapest major stock markets. In other words, the current problems, which are hardly insurmountable, are in the price.
Brazil has plenty of long-term advantages, including a huge and young population the median age is 29 and enough soft raw materials to be an "agricultural superpower", says Tom Phillips in The Daily Telegraph.
It's the world's top soy exporter and a major producer of corn, sugar cane and beef. Brazil plays include the iShares MSCI Brazil UCITS ETF (LSE: IDBZ) and the JPMorgan Brazil Investment Trust (LSE: JPB).
Andrew is the editor of MoneyWeek magazine. He grew up in Vienna and studied at the University of St Andrews, where he gained a first-class MA in geography & international relations.
After graduating he began to contribute to the foreign page of The Week and soon afterwards joined MoneyWeek at its inception in October 2000. He helped Merryn Somerset Webb establish it as Britain’s best-selling financial magazine, contributing to every section of the publication and specialising in macroeconomics and stockmarkets, before going part-time.
His freelance projects have included a 2009 relaunch of The Pharma Letter, where he covered corporate news and political developments in the German pharmaceuticals market for two years, and a multiyear stint as deputy editor of the Barclays account at Redwood, a marketing agency.
Andrew has been editing MoneyWeek since 2018, and continues to specialise in investment and news in German-speaking countries owing to his fluent command of the language.
Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland to shut another 45 branches
Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, is set to close a further 45 branches in 2024 - find out if a branch near you is closing.
By Vaishali Varu Published
US stock trading app Robinhood launches in the UK
The low-cost trading platform has opened another waiting list for British investors - following two failed attempts to launch in this country - and is hoping to be fully operational next year.
By Ruth Emery Published