Brazil 2014 in review: what I got wrong and why
Almost one year ago I made my 14 predictions for Brazil in 2014. Most of them were spot on: no free trade agreement with the European Union, economic growth was unimpressive, a lot of anger came out after the 50th anniversary of the coup, millions wept for the 20 years since driver Ayrton Senna died, Brazil went to the World Cup semifinals (I predicted that, not the 7-1 thrashing), football’s extravaganza was an organizational success and YES, Brazil is more international than ever. But there are other expectations that either proved to be misguided or went just half the way to completion. Here are they:
1 – “Jobs and income will still be fine.” Those two are not terrible, but they were far from fine in 2014. There was a technical recession that clearly hit consumer and business confidence. The hit on jobs wasn’t gigantic, but it was only because many youngsters chose to stay longer in school or, in the worse case scenario, do absolutely nothing. Income was affected by inflation. That was one of the reasons why the presidential race was so close.
2 – “Brazilian club football will be in a gigantic crisis.” Not even the 7-1 hammering against Germany shook the Brazilian FA, who also runs Brazil’s national league. Sports courts were more prominent than ever. The Judiciary has found evidence of manipulation in the 2013 Brazilian championship, let’s see how that goes. In 2014, unfortunately there was no crisis off the pitch.
3 – “There will be protests, but nothing like June 2013.” Anti-World Cup protests were a massive flop. Even smaller than I expected. But Brazil’s conservative wave has produced big protests after the tournament ended. Some had more than 5,000 people, which is more than anyone expected. Of course part of that is thanks to the presidential election and a crazy claim for impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. But these movements are not small and I didn’t see that coming.
4 – “Once the World Cup is over, Brazilians will be mad about the wasted opportunities.” It wasn’t even a topic after the World Cup ended. Not even opposition presidential candidates brought it up. When I made this prediction, I was listening too much to critics that believe Brazil is a poor country that couldn’t afford stadia. That is not the case: Brazil is unjust and the matter with the venues was of priority, not of being able to pay for them. It wasn’t a matter of building arenas or hospitals.
5 – “Rating agencies won’t downgrade Brazil.” Investment grade is still here, but the outlook is very different. Brazil’s new Finance Minister is a desperate attempt to keep the highest regard of rating agencies.
But the worst prediction I made, by far, is this one.
Sorry, folks. These things happen.