Starving cow replaces ‘charging bull’ in front of Brazil’s stock market

bull starving cow stock exchange
Márcia Pinheiro’s starving cow. Photo: Zanone Fraissat/Folhapress

Almost a month ago, B3 — the company operating the São Paulo stock exchange — inaugurated a Wall Street-inspired bull sculpture as a somewhat kitsch landmark to the downtown region of Brazil’s financial capital. Authorities removed the much-criticized metal and fiberglass golden bull just a week later, deeming it unauthorized advertising.

Now, artist Márcia Pinheiro from the northeastern state of Ceará has placed a new statue in front of the stock exchange building, one that, in her opinion, better reflects Brazil’s bearish economic quagmire: a golden starving cow. 

The image of a starving cow is often used in Brazil as an expression to depict moments of intense hardship. It comes from a passage of the book of Genesis, in which Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dream about seven fat cows, being devoured by seven starving ones. The fat cows meant that Egypt would experience seven years of prosperity, and the starving cows meant seven years of famine would follow.

The Brazilian economy has dipped into technical recession. Meanwhile, inflation shows no sign of slowing down, which will continue driving interest rates up. This, in turn, reduces access to credit and throttles family spending — the backbone of the economy. Markets have slashed GDP forecasts from 5.3 to 4.71 percent between July and now.

Just like the charging bull, the starving cow didn’t stick around for long in front of the stock exchange. It was removed by its creators to avoid having it seized by the São Paulo police.