Good morning! We’re covering the possible devastating effects automation could have on Brazil’s job market. Amazon fires are down, but they have increased in other biomes. News from the Marielle Franco case. And the government’s struggles in Congress. (This newsletter is for platinum subscribers only. Become one now!)


What will automation do to Brazilian jobs?

A new study concerning the impact of automation

on Brazil&#8217;s job market suggests that 58 percent of workers (almost two-thirds) are set to be replaced by machines within the next 20 years.</p> <p>Automation will hit hardest for people in positions that don&#8217;t demand skills such as creativity or socioemotional relations. And in Brazil, a deindustrializing economy, that is the bulk of the labor market.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Brazilian politicians&#8217; recipes for growth remain based on increasing internal consumption. The country&#8217;s low levels of education—and, therefore, productivity—place Latin America&#8217;s largest economy in a highly vulnerable position to face the next industrial revolution.</p> <p><strong>Productivity issues.</strong> Brazilian workers produce 25 percent as much as American workers, according to research organization Conference Board. The two top reasons for that are: (1) our workers are less educated and less qualified, and (2) they don’t have as much quality equipment at their disposal. Brazilians complete, on average, seven years of education.</p> <p><strong>Trends.</strong> A recent <a href="https://brazilian.report/tech/2019/08/16/future-job-market-automation-brazil-amazon/">study</a> by Senai, an institution focused on professional qualification for industries, shows that the job market will see a jump in careers linked to technology (22 percent more positions than today) that is much higher than those expected for the overall industrial sector (8.5 percent). The number of jobs in tech, however, will remain small compared to the rest of the Brazilian job market.</p> <p><strong>Fears.</strong> Last year, the Pew Research Center showed that 90 percent of Brazil&#8217;s young people fear not getting a job due to automation. Latest figures show they are right to be scared.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Amazon fires down—but other biomes suffer</h2> <p>After a bump in August, Amazon fires dropped in September to the lowest levels for the period in six years. However, wildfires registered in other biomes have gone up.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Rising Amazon fires cast Brazil&#8217;s as a sort of international villain on environmental issues—and President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s aggressive demeanor only made the problem worse. Many companies announced a suspension of purchases from Brazilian agricultural producers, and European countries found a perfect excuse to adopt protectionist measures against Brazil.</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/734378"></div><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script> <p><strong>Behind the numbers.</strong> Following the international outcry, the Bolsonaro administration saw itself forced to taking some action against deforestation, sending the Armed Forces to the Amazon. While this may help explain the lowering number of wildfires in the rainforest, across other biomes, the government&#8217;s laissez-faire stance continues—which also explains why fires are up this year (even for dry-season standards).</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>The bitter taste of victory</h2> <p>While the pension reform bill advanced in the Senate, financial markets had a dreadful day yesterday—actually, the worst in a month. That&#8217;s because senators cut back the savings foreseen by the reform over the next ten years—and are threatening the government to stall the second round of voting.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> As forecast, President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s anti-politics stance has created a situation in which every important vote in Congress becomes an uphill battle to rally the government&#8217;s troops—which jeopardizes the continuity of the administration&#8217;s reformist agenda.</p> <p><strong>Tensions.</strong> By failing to establish a faithful support base, the government has suffered significant losses in recent votes—such as a decision by the Senate to maintain salary bonuses for low-income workers, which reduced the savings of the pension reform by over BRL 70 billion. This turmoil (coupled with uncertainties around the global economy) led Brazil&#8217;s stock market to have its worst day in two months.</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/732837"></div><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Marielle Franco: new developments</h2> <p>Law enforcement has arrested four more people suspected of being linked to the assassination of Rio de Janeiro City Councilor Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, back in March 2018.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> The police believe that Marielle Franco was murdered by urban militia groups—which have close ties to the state&#8217;s political apparatus. Finding out who ordered her assassination could have devastating effects on local powers.</p> <p><strong>Police inefficiency. </strong>Since March 2018, the police have zeroed in on two former police officers thought to be the gunmen. They are members of the so-called &#8220;Office of the Crime,&#8221; a death squad linked to one of the oldest militias in Rio de Janeiro. However, police and militias are intertwined in Rio—leading to suspicions on how the investigations have been conducted. Last month, former Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge asked for the investigation to go federal, as a way to protect it from tampering.</p> <script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/299876/1078970-51-marielle-franco-one-year-of-impunity.js?player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you should know</h2> <p><strong>Car Wash.</strong> The Supreme Court ruled that defendants should be given extra time to present their closing arguments after allegations made by co-defendants by way of plea-bargain <a href="https://exame.abril.com.br/brasil/o-labirinto-de-lula-stf-retoma-julgamento-das-alegacoes/">deals</a>. Today, justices are set to decide whether the ruling should be applied to all cases (pushing Operation Car Wash-related cases against 143 people back to trial courts), or if a filter should be applied. Chief Justice Dias Toffoli proposed a set of parameters drastically reducing the number of cases to be affected—it would only benefit two defendants, one of them being former President Lula—who nominated him to the Supreme Court.</p> <p><strong>Violence.</strong> Brazil has registered a 22-percent drop in the number of violent deaths over the first seven months of this year, in comparison to the same period of 2018. Murder rates, however, remain high—with one person being killed in the country every 12 minutes. The reasons for the drop, experts say, are investments in intelligence by many state police departments, social programs, and stricter monitoring of gang leaders within prisons. The states with the worst rates are also where gangs fight for control over drug routes.</p> <p><strong>Urbanism.</strong> The highest court in the state of São Paulo struck down an injunction that suspended the <a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2019/07/21/rise-fall-rebirth-sao-paulo-city-center/">project to transform the <em>Minhocão</em></a> into a public park. The <em>Minhocão</em>, or &#8220;Big Worm,&#8221; is a 2.8-kilometer concrete overpass which runs like a scar on the face of central São Paulo. The project to turn the elevated highway into a part is inspired by New York&#8217;s High Line—and has been around for at least five years. Prosecutors, however, believe that studies of how it will impact traffic were not sufficiently carried out—an argument rejected by courts.</p> <p><strong>Retail.</strong> In yet another move to increase its footprint in Brazil, retail behemoth Amazon launched a Brazilian version of Alexa—its voice assistant app. A study by digital marketing agency iProspect shows that <a href="https://brazilian.report/tech/2019/08/16/future-job-market-automation-brazil-amazon/">49 percent of Brazilian smartphone owners use voice assistants</a>—despite the feature being relatively new for Portuguese speakers. According to consultancy firm Gartner, half of the world’s searches on smartphones will be made through these assistants by 2020. However, privacy concerns on how often users are being listened to remain an issue.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p><em>Update: The police made four, not three arrests (as initially reported), in the Marielle Franco case. This piece of information has been updated.</em>

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.