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Guido Mantega’s broken record Mar 1, 2013 3:40pm by Jonathan Wheatley

Brazil will grow by 3 to 4 per cent in 2013! And that’s on the authority of Guido Mantega,finance minister, aka Guido the Forecaster, so it must be true. It’s understandable that Mantega would want to put a brave face on things after the IBGE, Brazil’sstatistics agency, published another set of disappointing growth figures on Friday. But with GDP growing just 0.9 per cent in 2012 – rather less than Mantega’s initial andpersistent projections of 3 to 4 per cent – his relentless optimism is doing nothing for the government’s credibility. Last year’s anaemic growth – down from analready-disappointing 2.7 per cent in 2011 – was roughly in line with analysts’ expectations, although the economy’s performance in the fourth quarter, when it grew by just 0.6per cent compared with the third, was slightly less than the 0.7 per cent projected by a Reuters poll. Of greater concern will be the reported fall in savings andinvestment. Savings were equal to just 14.8 per cent of GDP in 2012, down from 17.2 per cent in 2011. Investment was equal to 18.1 per cent of GDP, the IBGE said, down from19.3 per cent. Brazil has launched a series of initiatives to get investment going again, all to little avail. What’s more, the fall in investment will confirm what manyhave long feared: that faced with the need to cut public spending to (more or less) balance its books, the government has trimmed investment rather than facing the morepolitically fraught challenge of cutting current expenditure on public sector wages and the like. None of that, however, will wipe the smile off Mantega’s face.

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