The last couple of years have not gone well for Brazil. Our friends in Brazil are frightened. They are afraid to let their children go out on the streets unaccompanied. The economy is in recession, dozens of high-level Brazilian politicians have been convicted of corruption in a scandal involving payments from the national petroleum country, President Dilma Rousseff has been impeached, preparations for the Olympic Games are devastatingly behind schedule, Guanabara Bay is polluted, and street crime is on the rise in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the Zika and Dengue viruses are spreading. The courts stand out as a Brazilian institution that is trying to do things right.
Instead of putting energies into this blog, Roa Lynn has been at work on her third novel. It is the story of a difficult love affair between a Brazilian and an American set in the maritime shipping industry.
Roa Lynn has just published an essay at The New Yorker’s web site about the extraordinary events of the day she visited Pablo Neruda at his home in Isla Negra, Chile.
An article in The Washington Post describes difficulties Brazil is having making sufficient hotel rooms available for visitors to the World Cup games. As usual, the suffocating Brazilian bureaucracy stands in the way of renovating hotels that were abandoned because of disputes over title. Much of the existing hotel space in Rio de Janeiro is already booked, and prices are very high. One grand old hotel that will not be available for the World Cup is the Hotel Gloria, which got caught up in the financial troubles of Eike Batista. This hotel is mentioned in Farewell Rio, first as the site of the Artists’ Ball that opens Carnival, and then as the hotel to which Kate and John repair after Kate is wounded in a shooting.
A Reuters article reports concerns by Robert Shiller that there may be a bubble in the Brazilian real estate market. Shiller won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2013 for work on market bubbles. Friends in Rio de Janeiro report similar concerns. One friend, who lives in a glorious penthouse apartment overlooking Copacabana Beach, would like to move to a smaller apartment, but says he can’t afford one. Prices in Rio de Janeiro are now like those in Manhattan.
An article in The Washington Post discusses some problems with displaying poetry on e-readers. The article mentions some people who have faced such difficulties. The online version of the article unintentionally illustrates some of the problems — it displays a poem with pagination different from that which the author intended. See a discussion of these difficulties and some effective solutions on this blog in five postings in the category “E-readers,” the first of which is here.
A Brazilian hedge fund, 3G, has joined Berkshire Hathaway Corp. in the purchase of H. J. Heinz Co., the maker of Heinz Ketchup. 3G is an investment vehicle owned by Jorge Paulo Lemann, who is thought to be the richest man in Brazil. 3G already owns Burger King. According to William Ackman, an investor in Burger King, 3G are among the worlds best operators of businesses. The headquarters of H. J. Heinz will remain in Pittsburgh, PA. However, 3G is expected to assert an active role in management. Berkshire Hathaway appears set to play the role of passive investor. Berkshire’s interest will include preferred shares in H. J. Heinz yielding 9% interest.