Counting the Cost

Bolsonaro’s coronavirus response: A threat to Brazil’s economy

We look at how President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of COVID-19 crisis has decimated Brazil’s health service and economy.

The coronavirus pandemic has not spared a single nation or economy, but the way some governments have handled the crisis has raised eyebrows.

Brazil’s right-wing populist leader Jair Bolsonaro has been dismissive about the health crisis and implored people to ignore state governors who had ordered lockdowns and social distancing measures.

The result: Brazil has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, behind the United States and Russia. A study by Imperial College suggest that 70,000 to one million Brazilians could die depending on measures taken to halt the progress of the pandemic.

Brazil’s healthcare system has been decimated since 2017; its expenditure on its national health service has been slashed by $4.4bn – or slightly less than a third of its current budget. And in some regions, it is close to collapse from the sheer number of COVID-19 patients.

Despite a stimulus package, the economy is expected to contract 4.7 percent this year – the biggest fall since 1900. The situation is so bad that President Donald Trump is considering banning Brazilians from travelling to the US.

Bolsonaro has been criticised at home and abroad, so how much damage will this do to the economy and its 209 million people? We speak to Jimena Blanco, the Head of Americas Risk Insights at Verisk Maplecroft.

No longer recession-proof

Millions of jobs have been lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the saying that the virus does not discriminate, it is having an unequal and devastating effect on low-income workers, immigrants and women.

But an altogether startling situation, despite the pandemic, is that medical personal are losing their jobs, as Al Jazeera’s Shihab Ritansi reports.

We also speak to Sho Alexander Sugihara, the co-founder and chief executive of gig-economy finance app Portify, who explains what has gone wrong in the jobs market.

Germany’s big bazooka to save the euro

Europe’s biggest economy is back in recession, a little over a decade since the last financial crisis.

But trouble was brewing for Germany before the pandemic – and like everywhere else, worse is yet to come.

The government has pledged one trillion euros to support the economy. But it is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s radical 500 billion euro plan to help fellow European nations that could face opposition and push the union towards another crisis.

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane reports and we speak to Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.