This could be a bad summer for Brazil’s Tourism agency
Some tourists gathered along a winding path here on a Thursday in early May, watching the waves from the Atlantic, hoping for a big one. The surf was so high that red flags were planted on the beach below, so even the cariocas – the locals – stayed on the sand. It was only a couple of weeks ago that one of the waves leapt up to a newly built portion of this path, and crumpled it like a wet cracker. At least two people died; their bodies were fished out of the surf by helicopters and laid onto the beach below.
The tourists hung out near a food cart with a bright umbrella, and the owner stepped outside and got a visitor’s attention. He gestured with his hand in an up-and-over motion. It was clear what he meant: every now and then a wave crashed over the ledge, and where the tourists were standing wasn’t quite safe. He returned to work; the tourists stayed where they were. The waves kept coming, higher and higher.
Brazil is a precarious place these days.
“Things are getting uglier here every day,” Brazilian soccer star Rivaldo wrote on his Instagram account Sunday. “I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio – to stay home. You’ll be putting your life at risk here. … Only God can change the situation in our Brazil.”
The situation in Brazil right now looks like this: The economy is crashing and no one knows quite what to do about it. The Zika virus has caused paralysis and harrowing birth defects. The Olympics are less than three months away and that will bring security concerns. It will also bring some embarrassment, as the local Guanabara Bay is filthy and rancid. The beach surrounding it has no people, but rather empty cans and vials and diapers. It was supposed to be cleaned; it might never be cleaned.
Perhaps most troubling of all: an impeachment process in the midst of a corruption crisis leaves Brazil’s political future completely uncertain. Plan A has failed and there is no Plan B. When the Olympic flame arrived here on May 3, it was met by dueling protests – one side against a “coup” and another in favor of impeachment. A schoolteacher who watched the torch relay voiced a common wish: new elections. But who is worthy to win? No one has inspired any trust. The most popular politician is someone nicknamed “Tiririca.” He’s a professional clown. His campaign slogan was, “It can’t get any worse.”
So yeah… that “best games ever” seems out of reach.
This is the sound of what the World Cup sounds like when Brazil scores a goal in a Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. I love it.
Which is why no one of note is bidding for the 2022 Winter Games
Although some countries and cities have managed to profit from well-run major sports events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, they’re far from the norm, a prominent professor of economics says.
Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Newton, Mass., says prospective hosts need to think twice about whether the massive outlays of cash are worth it in the long run.
“The economic benefit is typically zero,” Matheson says in an interview set to air on CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange on Tuesday. And even when there is a modest gain, “it’s not enough to justify the price tag,” he says.
I think we know who to blame
Because the IOC and FIFA make their money from selling TV and merchandising rights, they have no incentive to keep costs from ballooning, Matheson says.
“On paper, the IOC and FIFA don’t care whether it costs $51 billion to host the Olympics in Sochi or $14 billion to host the World Cup in Brazil, because ‘I’m not paying those costs,'” Matheson says.
The Economist has an interesting article on defense spending by GDP.
ON JUNE 8th China’s top military brass confirmed that the country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbishment of an old Russian carrier, will be ready shortly. Only a handful of nations operate carriers, which are costly to build and maintain. Indeed, Britain has recently decommissioned its sole carrier because of budget pressures. China’s defence spending has risen by nearly 200% since 2001 to reach an estimated $119 billion in 2010â€”though it has remained fairly constant in terms of its share of GDP. America’s own budget crisis is prompting tough discussions about its defence spending, which, at nearly $700 billion, is bigger than that of the next 17 countries combined.
Itâ€™s not totally accurate as the Illustrious is being converted to a helicopter carrier and England is building the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers and the reality is that the Invincible class of aircraft carriers was at the end of itâ€™s life expectancy.
It is interesting that despite the outrage of how much Canada has been spending on defense lately, we still spend less than Australia, Brazil, and Italy among the largest military spenders. I was also surprised to see Turkey so high on the list and not not see Pakistan considering how much India spends.
The Economist has a good article on what impact that farmers now growing corn for ethanol has on the global economy and also the environment.
Adding ethanol to the traditional markets for maize (food and fodder) inevitably pushes the price up. That encourages farmers, including those in poor countries, to boost production. If some of those farmers plough up savannah or cut down forest to grow the extra crops, the carbon dioxide released from the plants destroyed and soil ploughed up reduce the benefits of substituting the ethanol produced for petrol. If forests that are still growing are cleared, the environment loses the effect of their future uptake of carbon dioxide, too.
Of course having an honest discussion about ethanol like other green energies is hard to do because of politics.
A bigger problem, though, is the unstoppable desire of politicians to pick green winnersâ€”and not necessarily for green reasons. Ethanol, like â€œclean coalâ€, has a habit of being among them not because of its inherent virtues, but rather its political geography. Maize grows in crucial states, some of them â€œswingâ€ states like Iowa and Ohio. Barack Obama thus recently renewed his support for American, maize-based ethanol. Letting Brazilian ethanol, made from sugarcane, into the market tariff-free would be cheaper and probably greener. But that, of course, is not on. Eventually, new crops such as switchgrass and new technologies that allow whole plants to be converted into ethanol, rather than just their sugar- or starch-rich parts, will change the equation by boosting yields. In the meantime, the truth about ethanol is murky.