By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
At the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia a year ago, President Dilma Rousseff was booed by thousands of soccer fans for all of Brazil to see. It’s easy to understand then why she isn’t planning to speak at Thursday’s opening ceremony of the World Cup. An embarrassing turn as host of Earth’s biggest sporting event - or crushing repeat of the 1950 Maracanaço - may be the greatest obstacle to her clinching a second term.
With each dip in Rousseff’s poll numbers, the Bovespa Index kicks up a notch. Investors are hoping her experimental economic policies will come to an end at the ballot this fall.
With unemployment still low and millions of Brazilians lifted out of poverty over the past decade, however, it will take more than a few lousy economic reports between now and then to ensure Rousseff’s defeat. It will take a truly dreadful showing at the World Cup.
While few Brazilians are openly disparaging the home team, that many are privately reflecting on such an outcome is an indication of the malaise infecting Latin America’s largest economy. Inflation remains stubbornly high, hitting 6.4 percent just last week, gross domestic product growth is sluggish and the government’s finances are in bad shape.