Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, or Oscar Niemeyer as most of us know him, died today. He was 104 years old.
The great Brazilian architect apparently kept alive by keeping busy. He’s largely responsible for the design of Brasilia as well as literally hundreds of other buildings throughout the world, including the United Nations complex on Turtle Bay in New York City. You might recognize its similarity to the buildings that house Brazil’s national congress.
But for me, the treat of all of Niemeyer’s buildings is the Museum of Contemporary Art that sits in Niteroi, across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro. It sits like a space-age flower on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the Bay.
You enter the museum by walking up a gentle curving ramp that sports a bright red paint job in contrast to the otherwise white exterior.
Once inside, you can wander around–literally around–the circular interior and look at the collection of modern art. Frankly, Janet and I were disappointed in the collection until we turned from the museum’s walls and looked out its windows instead. Wow! There, framed by window after window, hung one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world: Rio de Janeiro.
I’m not sure if we ever turned back to look at the contemporary art.
At least at Fitch, Brazil is no longer sitting at the bottom of the ratings. Today, the U.S. based rating agency, upped Brazil’s credit rating from BBB- to BBB in part, says the Brazilian business magazine EXAME, because the country “has signaled that it’s serious about improving its fiscal position,” signals that include spending cuts, a modest increase in the minimum wage, and a steady reduction in loans from Treasury to Brazil’s development bank BNDES.
At yesterday’s speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Sergio Cabral, the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro claimed that
“não há nenhum atraso” em relação à Copa do Mundo de 2014 no Brasil [“there are no delays” in relation to the World Cup of 2014 in Brazil]
according to the Jornal do Brazil.
I hope he’s right, but I fear he needs to read Reuters.
The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro (where the Cidade Maravilhosa is located) is in the U.S. Today he spoke at the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. where, according to the Jornal do Brasil, he spoke of the huge amount of investment his state is attracting, claiming that more than $111 billion will be invested in the state of Rio over the next three years, some he says is more investment money per “square kilometer” than in any place in the world.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Well, then there’s that story at Reuters:
Indeed, scenes like this are supposed to become a thing of the past here. Brazil plans more than $1 trillion in construction projects this decade to bring its woeful airports, roads and other infrastructure up to date — an ambitious building boom that will prepare the country to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, provide a bonanza of opportunities for foreign investors, and secure Brazil’s place among the world’s most dynamic emerging economies.
That’s the dream, anyway.
In reality, expectations are coming unraveled — fast. Brazil’s grand infrastructure plans now seem likely to fall well short of President Dilma Rousseff’s ambitions, according to a Reuters investigation of major building projects and interviews with nearly two dozen senior political leaders, investors, government watchdog groups and others.
I’m a big fan of Brazil in general and Rio in particular. I hope the Governor is right, but that Reuter’s story is disturbing.
Jason Mitchell has an interesting story in Institutional Investor about the role of private equity in Brazil’s resurgence. It caught my eye because I served a two-year mission for my church in Brazil many years ago and fell in love with the country. My wife and I returned for a visit in February 2008 and hope to return again soon. In fact, my mission president has invited us to serve with him and his wife in the Campinas Temple.
Whether we’ll be able depends on a lot of things happening. We’ll see.
64-Year-Old Kayaker Completes Trans-Atlantic Voyage from Dakar on the coast of West Africa to Acaraú a few miles northwest of the Brazilian city of Forteleza.