Explaining Brazil #101: Public health enemy #1

The world goes into self-isolation and governments pass relief packages to save their economies. But Brazil's president wants "business as usual"

Two weeks ago, we spoke with economist Monica de Bolle about what the government should do in order to avoid a recession in Brazil caused by the coronavirus health crisis. But so much has changed in these two weeks. Cases of Covid-19 have exploded in Brazil. States have put themselves in quarantine, and recession — which seemed like a possibility — now is a fait accompli. The question is: how bad will things get?

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On this episode:

  • Filipe Campante is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is interested in political economy, development economics, and urban/regional issues. His research looks at what constrains politicians and policymakers beyond formal checks and balances: cultural norms, institutions, media, and political protests.

Background reading:

  • The Brazilian Report has launched a live blog to follow the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil. It will be used to provide public-interest information on a daily basis about the developments of the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil. If you have doubts about the issue, do not hesitate to write to us at [email protected].
  • Jair Bolsonaro and state governors are clashing over how broad restrictive measures should be. Governors want quarantine — Mr. Bolsonaro wants “business as usual.”
  • Our March 27 Daily Briefing explains the relief package approved by the House for informal workers. It also shows that, between March 25 and 26, Brazil’s health system observed the worst 24 hours in terms of Covid-19 infections and deaths … so far.
  • In our March 18 Daily Briefing, economist Daniel Duque makes a case for a universal basic income policy as a palliative measure for the looming crisis (for premium subscribers).

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro, editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall, editing. Euan is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

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