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The Case of the Dual Economist?

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Source: Portal Vermelho (PCdoB)

Here is a bit of news: The Sons of Che Bite Fleet Street Fat Cats

The Economist, a British magazine and spokesman for international financial interests, is betting on disaster just as the Brazilian economy is beginning to grow again.

A cover photo making the rounds this week shows the statue of Christ the Redeemer performing out-of -control loop-the-loops, and asks “Has Brazil Blown It?”

But economic data belie this catastrophic vision, demonstrating the upward convergence of such factors as increased GDP, inflation trending downward, and full employment.

The Economist has, in fact, revealed another face. In a seminar it is promoting in São Paulo (at a cost of $1,700 per participant), the magazine paints a rosy picture in which Brazil is presented as “one of the great success stories of the last decade. In 2011, it ran a cover story titled “Brazil takes off” (“O Brasil está decolando”).

Uh oh. Wait, wait.

That is not what the E is saying:

FOUR years ago this newspaper put on its cover a picture of the statue of Christ the Redeemer ascending like a rocket from Rio de Janeiro’s Corcovado mountain, under the rubric “Brazil takes off”.

I cannot make out the fine print in the PNG — anybody with a high-res copy? — but it would tend to take the ironic sting out of the response.  So, let us take the Economist’s internal search feature for a ride …

Okay, here we go: November 2009 was the issue with the blast-off cover.

But now, in 14 pages, it places its bet on deconstruction. Perhaps Freud can explain this schizophrenic double identity? Or is speaking badly of Brazil to readers and well of it to sponsors just a reckless marketing strategy?

As the principal indicators of the Brazilian economy converge on a resumption of growth — an increase of 20% in the CNI’s projections on GDP, inflation estimated at 4.8% a year, and especially the 5.3% unemployment  rate, which technically qualifies as full employment —  The Economist has placed a new bet on the collapse of our development model. In other words, as the Brazilian economy shows all the signs of having gotten over the global crisis, the magazine returns to its ironic litany of recession. Brazil is moving forward and the Economist turning back;

Reusing the image of Christ the Redeemer to represent Brazil, the magazine that portrayed Brazil as a rocket during lift-off from Corcovado, in 2011, it now uses the same image to illustrate “disaster,” represented by an out-of-control loop-the-loop …

Not only is this image incorrect from the point of view of various objective economic facts, that image (an attempt at humor) represents a case of schizophrenia and dual identity. The Economist that assails Brazil is the same The Economist that adulates our country.

As it turns out, it is an Economist that has had ample time to change its outlook, and is open to challenge on the facts but not on the rhetoric.

For its Asian and Latin American readers this week, the magazine says that we risk “blowing it.”

For the sponsors and attendees of the Brazil Summit 2013, however, the same The Economist opines that “the ascent of Brazil has been one of the major success stories of the past decade, with record levels of foreign investment, millions of persons lifted out of poverty, and a rising middle class that has created a new global market.” In the article for this week’s edition — not yet published — it presents the diagnosis of looming disaster for the very same country it praised during its seminar?

Organized by the magazine and private sponsors, the Economist seminar presents a much more optimistic outlook to attendees, and charges them $ 1,700 per person for the privilege.

Interview someone who attended.

It is scheduled for October 24 at the Grand Hyatt in São Paulo between 8h00 and 18h00, and will count on the presence of Supreme Court president Joaquim Barbosa (presidente do STF), Nizan Guanaes (ABC), former Central Bank president Gustavo Franco — all of them critical of the current government — and even the illustrious chef Alex Atalla, of the restaurant D.O.M.

The government has announced only the attendance of one speaker: The president of Embrapa, Marco Antônio Lopes.

It seems as though The Economist will put on a conference that is as unbalanced as its approach to facts, projections and ideals.

Yes, but again, it has had four years to rethink its diagnosis. There is a fallacy at work here involving juxtaposition, and it tends to work against the PCdoB’s side of the argument. From the conference home page:

The rise of Brazil has been one of the greatest economic success stories of the last decade. Record levels of foreign investment, millions of people lifted out of poverty, and a booming middle class has created a vibrant new marketplace for global commerce.

But now the country is facing stagnant GDP growth—a mere 1 percent in 2012—as the engines that powered Brazil’s ascendance in the last decade are scrambling for new sources of fuel. Investors are starting to turn their heads to Latin America’s other successful markets, like Mexico and Colombia. To continue its upward march, Brazil must unlock new drivers of economic growth.

Leaving aside the determination of the facts, the rhetorical construction is a perfectly coherent rejoinder in the adversative: “X, but also Y.”