Brazil's "iron lady"aims to revamp BNDES; Argentina's Macri faces discontentment at home; and a lookat why Mexico's bright-minded technocrats have failed to spur faster economic growth.
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Brazil's own "iron lady" is set to change how thingsare done in the country's development bank arena in an effort to bring back investorconfidence and vigor to the economically troubled country, Bloomberg News reports.The news agency spotlights Maria Silvia Bastos Marques, the recently appointed CEOof BNDES, who is leading efforts focused on private-public tie-ups and smaller businesses,while severely cutting subsidized credit for the country's largest firms. The formersteelmaker executive has also promised to curtail the development bank's lendinggrowth, marking a reversal from her predecessor, Luciano Coutinho, who led a fourfoldincrease in BNDES' loan portfolio in a largely unsuccessful effort to bolster economicgrowth. With investor interest growing since Marques' promise of a more austereBrazil, the iron lady is "making clear that the bank cannot be used as Brasiliapleases," one analyst pointed out.
While President Mauricio Macri moved quickly to revive Argentina'sstanding in the international community — both with new market-friendly policiesand by resolving the country's longstanding issues with defaulted debt — he facesa tougher battle at home, Uki Goni reports for Time. Rampant inflation is causinggrowing unrest, and his administration's implementation of a 500% tariff hike onutility rates has caused members of the public to take to the streets and to thecourt house. While Macri's standing internationally is mostly positive, his popularitywithin the country is under threat, Goni asserts. However, the writer adds, "Opinionpolls suggest Macri still enjoys the confidence of Argentines, so long as he cansquare the economy before their patience runs out."
Following a week that saw 120,000 Venezuelans bolt across theColombian border to purchase basic goods, Australia's Business Insider highlightsa graphic that shows just how dire the economic situation in Venezuela really is."Venezuela's outlandish inflation has proven difficult to pin down," thepublication notes; but one graphic created by a website called 'How Much' uses inflationforecasts from the IMF to illustrate the relative absurdity of the South Americancountry's expected 4,000% inflation rate by 2020.
Americas Quarterly's Brian Winter features a report on Mexico'scentral bank chief, Agustín Carstens. Fueled by memories of Mexico's crisis in the1970s and '80s, Carstens is part of a group of bright-minded technocrats who haveenacted radical changes to steady Mexico's economy, the author notes. But theirsuccess in stabilizing the economy has failed to spur like-sized economic growth.Carstens and other like-minded economists attribute it partially to Mexico's continuedstruggle to change its global reputation for volatility. However, some critics arguethat the technocrats have been too zealous in their want to limit spending, andas a result the country hasn't made the sort of educational and infrastructuralinvestments that could help lift Mexico's poverty rate, which continues to hoveraround 46%. Moving Mexico forward so that it "can develop in a complete andintegral way… [is] a challenge that we haven't resolved," Carsten admits. "We'reworking on it."