Counting the Cost

Brazil: A stumbling giant?

As Latin America's largest economy is in danger of slipping into recession, we examine the challenges facing the nation.

Last updated: 24 Aug 2014 20:31
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Brazil played host to one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar in July, the FIFA World Cup, which was a success but did not score with the economy. 

The economy has become a central theme in the upcoming presidential election amid warning signals that Latin America's largest economy could be slipping into a light recession.

Brazil's economy ground to a near halt in the first quarter, expanding only by 0.2 percent on a quarter on quarter basis. Many economists are forecasting zero GDP growth in the second quarter - and that is despite hosting the World Cup.

The country also took a hit when neighbouring Argentina, a top consumer of Brazilian exports, reduced its purchases of cars and other durable goods as its economy struggled this year. A prolonged drought helped to drive up food prices but keeping inflation expectations anchored will require firm monetary policy action according to the OECD.

So what is next for the Latin American giant? Will the election trigger the reforms needed to revive the Brazilian economy? And what impact will a recession have on its neighbouring countries?

Neil Shearing, an economist at Capital Economics, talks to Counting the Cost.

The tower of David

Venezuela's government has started to move people from a half-built tower block in the capital, Caracas. The unfinished structure, which has become famous for its apocalyptic image, was abandoned during a banking crisis in the 1990s.
Years later, with the encouragement of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez, poor residents took over the building, and now many families are reluctant to leave what has become known as the world's largest vertical slum, the so-called tower of David.

Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reports from Caracas.

Myanmar's mobile revolution

Myanmar has one of the worst telecommunication infrastructures in the world: only about five to 10 percent of the population owns a mobile phone. 

The only way to get a SIM card used to be through a public lottery system or paying over $100 for it. For a long time, the telecommunications industry was monopolised by a state-owned enterprise, but the government has now allowed two foreign companies to operate.

What are the challenges facing Myanmar?

Sigve Brekke, the CEO of Telenor Operations Asia, joins Counting the Cost from Bangkok. 

The ice bucket challenge

The challenge consists in people dumping ice cold water on their heads and nominating others to do the same.

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is also known as "Lou Gehrigh's disease" after the baseball great who was diagnosed with it in 1939. It is a degenerative disease that kills off motor neurons, eventually ending the brain's ability to initiate and control muscles.

The ALS ice bucket campaign has become a global phenomenon and raised $23m. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and football sensation Christiano Ronaldo are also among those who have taken part.

So what is behind the success of this campaign?

John Terret reports from New York.  

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more  Counting the Cost .   

Follow Kamahl Santamaria  @KamahlAJE  and business editor Abid Ali  @abidoliverali .


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