Let me give an introductory reality to the content to follow. In my almost 10 years in Belo Horizonte, Brazil I have seen the exchange rate compared to the US Dollar oscillate from almost 4:1 in 2003 to a 10-year record low of 1.53:1 just a few months ago. When I moved here in I shared a large 4-bedroom apartment that initially cost around $250 US Dollars per month total – not per person. I currently live in a 3-bedroom apartment for almost $1000 US Dollars per month. I am pricing newer cars; something like a domestic, 2-year-old, 4-door sedan and what I find are options in the $20,000 - $25,000 US Dollar range. So, let me continue on with the content.
Brazil listed three cities in the top 35 of Mercer Consulting’s Cost of Living Survey for 2011. São Paulo jumped up 11 spots from 2010 to number 10 on the list. Rio de Janeiro, also, moved up to number 12. Lastly, Brasília, Brazil’s capital, leaped from number 70 to number 33! As Brazil’s third largest metropolitan city center, Belo Horizonte has most definitely been affected by the same factors as the these cities.
In July, Brazilian news magazine Veja published an eight-page spread titled “The Perfect Storm” citing Mercer’s survey results while addressing the reasons for the increasing cost of living in Brazil. According to the writers, the five “winds” that join together to create this financial hurricane are:
MONETARY EXCHANGE RATES: the Brazilian REAL has not been so highly valued on the international market since 1998.
TAXES & TARIFFS: the Brazilian tax burden is almost 40% of the country’s GDP, and most of that is built-in to the price of products and services, especially on imports.
CREDIT: consumer credit offers rose by 20% in the past 12 months.
CORPORATE CONCENTRATION & OLIGOPOLY: Fourteen economic sectors have experienced a concentration into a small number of corporate entities over the past 10 years, leading to less competition for consumers.
RECORD OPTIMISM: six out of 10 Brazilians believe that the economy will improve even more the following year.
With Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup and Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Olympic Games, it seems that Brazil is on a path to improve its “developing country” status to “developed” – or as international policy coined long ago, to be a 1st World Country. That is a realistic idea based on economic projections that hover around the major developing countries, which are commonly referred to as the BRIC countries; Brazil, Russia, India and China, respectively. There it is, “Brazil” at the front of the list.
There are lots of challenges going on, but one thing remains as true as ever – a country in constant change is in need of leaders with a vision. What Campus Outreach wants to do is give Brazil leaders who have a vision for grace and mercy, for Christ-like character and for the ethical high road because they represent their Lord and Savior. Pray for us as we build laborers through the campus for the lost world.