Bom dia (good morning) from Brazil. Today marks our last day in this beautiful country. Throughout this adventure, I have been amazed by Brazil’s improvement both economically and on social issues. While poverty is still a problem, it has clearly been reduced and I believe that it will continue to improve as Brazil continues to play an even more influential role on the world stage.
Before coming to Brazil, I was slightly concerned about our safety. That fear was quickly alleviated. We have been treated very well and I have never been concerned with our safety on this trip. I hope that I can convince some of my family and friends to make the journey below the equator.
I wanted to tell you about the parts of the trip that I found most informative. I will do my best to keep it short, although there were a lot of lessons that I learned while on this trip.
I think that my favorite part of the trip was meeting with our American diplomat William Popp. I think that he is well qualified for his position and I hope that he will stay on as our diplomat for many years to come. I loved learning about all of the similarities between our countries and the areas where we differ. Before coming on this trip, I did not know that Brazil was part of the alliance in World War II. He reminded that both of our countries are democracies with a very diverse population. Both countries have experienced periods of great inflation, Brazil, although Brazil’s was much more extreme. He also explained to us the different economic class structures in Brazil and that the consumer class has and is continuing to make many leaps forward. He also explained to us some of the challenges that Brazil is facing. I thought that it was really interesting that Brazil and FIFA are not getting along. FIFA is becoming increasingly concerned that Brazil is not ready to hold the World Cup. Brazil does not have enough hotel rooms at the current moment and the infrastructure in Brazil is not ready for such an influx of people. The airport terminals are too small. Many question whether the roads are ready. Finally, the tournament is held all throughout the country. It isn’t concentrated in one area, so the logistics of this tournament are a complete nightmare. I will be very curious to see how the tournament turns out.
Brazil’s economy has truly become dynamic in recent years. Many economists would agree with me on my opinion that a lot of Brazil’s economic progress has come from the fact that the country is so wealthy in raw materials. I think that this concept was best reinforced by our field trips to both the aluminum factory and UNICA.
UNICA is a commission that the Brazilian sugar cane industry created to advocate for their industry. It is important to note that it is not a government institution. Instead, it is a coalition of sugar cane firms that wish to create UNICA as a lobbying arm for their corporations. We met a very lovely spokesperson for the commission who was very knowledgeable. She explained to us in clear terms why sugar cane is a superior raw material for ethanol production. Her claims were given even greater credibility when Professor Hewitt nodded in agreement with her claims. Professor Hewitt, the leader of our trip, has extensive experience in the oil industry, so it made her claims more believable. What was interesting is that she told us that she does not believe that Brazil will be able to grow enough sugar cane. Sugar cane has to be grown in a very particular environment that does have too much rain. They would like to see Africa to begin growing the crop with the hopes that it would be easily transported to Europe. I will be curious to see what happens in the current decades.
As I mentioned before, we also toured one of the world’s largest aluminum factory. It was really fascinating. One fact that I found really interesting was that their main cost for aluminum was actually transportation. They have to use rail to transport the bauxite over 600 kilometers. The fascinating part for me is that the bauxite almost looks like red clay. It does not appear to be metallic in any way. Once at the factory, the bauxite undergoes several complicated chemical reaction, which eventually leads to the production of one of the world most important metals. I really enjoyed my experience at the aluminum factory.
Yesterday, we went to the Brookfield Real Estate company. The chief executive of the Brazilian branch gave us a very interesting presentation on the Brazilian economy. He showed us very interesting statistics that suggest that Brazil’s middle class is expected to rise in the coming decades. However, I am somewhat skeptical of the statistics, because they were using figures that were not adjusted for inflation. Another thing that I found really interesting was that he said that Brookfield was mainly concentrating their business in residual real estate. The subsidies by the government for residential real estate were far more attractive than any subsidies that would be available for commercial real estate. We also asked him if he had any plans to build hotels in anticipation of the world cup. He said that he did not want to build any hotels, because he doubts that there will be enough demand after the events end.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed my first blog. Email me if you are considering a trip to Brazil.
Powered by Facebook Comments