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Numbers of the week: Sep. 26, 2020

. Sep 26, 2020
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This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week: Argentina’s GDP, coronavirus figures, Bolsonaro’s approval rating. And more.

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19-percent GDP slump in Argentina

Argentina’s official statistics agency (Indec)

says the country’s<a href="https://www.indec.gob.ar/uploads/informesdeprensa/pib_09_203A30C37E8E.pdf"> GDP dropped 19.1 percent in Q2 2020</a> when compared to the same period in 2019. From Q1 2020, the quarterly contraction reached 16.2 percent — slightly better than most forecasts. The year-on-year change for Q2 2020 was even worse than the 2002 crisis, when Argentina faced one of its most dire economic moments in recent history, with five different presidents taking office in a matter of just two weeks. At that time, quarterly GDP shrank by 16.3 percent when compared to the previous year. </p> <p>The Argentinian crisis is mainly motivated by <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/09/26/world-longest-lockdown-avoid-coronavirus-disaster-argentina/">the country&#8217;s never-ending quarantine</a> — which started back in March.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>7 players infected</h2> <p>This week, Rio de Janeiro-based club Flamengo became the textbook example of the dangers of a rushed return to football amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Most South American countries remain unable to control the coronavirus spread — and yet, the region&#8217;s football confederation Conmebol has <a href="https://brazilian.report/sports/2020/09/15/copa-libertadores-brazilian-teams-are-feared-for-the-wrong-reasons/">resumed the Copa Libertadores continental club tournament</a>. The confederation said it had created a &#8220;mobile bubble&#8221; for teams, with charter flights and special hotel wings to isolate squads from contamination. Just a week after Libertadores action restarted, the weaknesses of the system were exposed.</p> <p>Seven Flamengo players — including many in the starting lineup&nbsp;—&nbsp;tested positive for the coronavirus just prior to a match against Ecuadorian side Barcelona, in Guayaquil. But even that <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/09/22/flamengo-match-suspended-after-multiple-player-infections/">wasn&#8217;t enough for Conmebol to postpone the game</a>. After Flamengo&#8217;s 2-1 win, the Barcelona squad was <a href="https://globoesporte.globo.com/futebol/libertadores/noticia/apos-surto-no-flamengo-elenco-do-barcelona-se-isola-no-ct-para-fazer-testes-de-covid-19.ghtml">placed in quarantine</a> to monitor possible contaminations.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>40-percent approval</h2> <p>A new poll showed that 40 percent of Brazilian voters believe President Jair Bolsonaro is doing a &#8220;good or great&#8221; job — a bump of 11 percentage points when compared to his approval ratings at the end of last year. As we explained in our <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/09/25/bolsonaro-approval-numbers-poll-to-temporary-benefit/">September 25 Daily Briefing</a>, this rise is mainly linked to the government-issued coronavirus emergency salary&nbsp;— the monthly value of which has since been halved.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>9 cases after Chief Justice inauguration ceremony</h2> <p>Supreme Court Justice Cármen Lúcia has tested positive for the coronavirus, making her the ninth infected person who attended the inauguration of <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/09/10/challenges-brazil-new-chief-justice-luiz-fux/">Chief Justice Luiz Fux</a>. But while the inauguration ceremony is being used as a timestamp for these infections, there were multiple occasions during which the spread might have occurred. One was a <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/09/21/brazil-senate-goes-back-work-after-high-profile-covid-party/">massive dinner party</a> hosted by House Speaker Rodrigo Maia the day before.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 1 billion in remote work savings</h2> <p>Public servants have been costing less to the federal government’s coffers: during the week, the Economy Ministry reported that the <a href="https://g1.globo.com/economia/noticia/2020/09/25/home-office-no-servico-publico-gerou-economia-de-r-1-bilhao-em-5-meses-diz-governo.ghtml">government saved about BRL 1.02 billion</a> with public servants working remotely from April to August. Of those savings, BRL 859 million is related to cost expenses (such as water and electric bills and travel expenses) and other BRL 161 million to the servants’ personal aides. According to the Economy Ministry, the amount saved in those expenses can be used to “serve the population.” At least 360,000 servants (especially from public universities and federal institutes) are currently working from home, 62 percent of the federal government’s workforce.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>From 15,000 to 5 million</h2> <p>Businessman Filipe Sabará, who intends on running for São Paulo Mayor this year, is facing heat after an eye-catching mistake in his income declaration to electoral authorities. On September 18, Mr. Sabará said he owned BRL 15,686 in assets (USD 2,830). Two days later, he changed his net worth to nearly BRL 5 million.</p> <p>Mr. Sabará said the first statement was based on his tax returns, which consider the social capital of his company at BRL 11,111. The candidate claims to having later decided to change the figures to reflect the actual market value of his company —&nbsp;roughly BRL 7 million. He is also the heir of the Sabará Group — a company with a net worth of BRL 200 million.</p> <p>His party, the libertarian group Partido Novo, <a href="https://www.poder360.com.br/eleicoes/novo-suspende-filipe-sabara-e-paralisa-pre-campanha-a-prefeitura-de-sp/">suspended</a> Mr. Sabará&#8217;s candidacy for undisclosed reasons. Besides the messy net worth statements, he was criticized for praising former São Paulo Mayor Paulo Maluf. During the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Maluf became <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2017/12/20/brazil-paulo-maluf-corruption/">so associated with corruption</a> that his name became a verb. “To Maluf” was to steal public money. In 2014, he was called “Mr. Kickback” by Transparency International.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>10 states beat MMR coverage target</h2> <p>According to a report by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), called “<a href="https://biblioteca.ibge.gov.br/visualizacao/periodicos/2/bn_2020_v28.pdf">Brazil in numbers,</a>” in 2019, coverage of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) exceeded the Health Ministry’s goals in ten states, with Mato Grosso do Sul (101.23%), Alagoas (101.18%), Rondônia (100.5%), Paraíba (98.07%), and Ceará (97.75%) topping the list.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, when looking at the national levels, MMR coverage is still only at 88.33 percent, 6.67 points below the 95-percent target set by the Health Ministry. Last year, before the pandemic, measles became a pressing public health issue in Brazil: according to the 2020 Bulletin of Epidemiological Surveillance of Measles, the virus was actively circulating in ten states. In 2019, between September and November 23, 15 people died from measles infections. Confirmed cases exceeded 13,000.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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