Insight and investigations from our expert reporters
Everybody knows Brazil is booming these days. But they don’t always see the dark side of that progress: some of the world’s worst traffic jams, blackouts, and trucks that sit in lines for several days at harvest time because seaports are so full.
Hoping to fix those problems, Brazil plans more than $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements in the next decade, and the scope is pretty amazing. The government wants a bullet train between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo; a huge new hydroelectric dam in the Amazon; and a railroad criss-crossing Brazil’s northeast, a region that is a bit like the American Deep South in that it has historically lagged behind the rest of the country in investment.
The news isn’t all good though. Reuters did an investigation of several high-profile projects and discovered that the plans aren’t coming together as hoped. Red tape, corruption, and a lack of leadership mean that as few as half of the projects might get completed on time.
Some of the problems could be resolved by the government, like a reform of procurement laws — which sometimes make auctions take longer than the actual construction process! But some of them are structural, like an unemployment rate of about 6 percent, near all-time lows, which has caused a shortage of skilled labor.