Interpretação de Texto - FGV-ECON

Blurring the mandate

Is the Central Bank targeting growth?

Oct 29th 2011 | BRASÍLIA

For much of the last century inflation was as prominent a feature of Brazilian life as football. It was finally tamed, first by the Real Plan of 1994 involving a new currency and fiscal measures, and then from 1999 by requiring the Central Bank, which was granted operational independence, to set interest rates to meet an inflation target. Since 2005 that target has been 4.5%, plus or minus two percentage points. So the Central Bank surprised everyone in August when it cut its benchmark rate by half a point (to 12%) even though inflation was then at 6.9%. On October 19th, the bank did the same again. So is the government of President Dilma Rousseff, in office since January, giving priority to other goals, such as sustaining growth and preventing the overvaluation of the currency, rather than keeping inflation low? And has the Central Bank lost its independence?

No, say officials, who cite two sets of reasons for the rate cuts. First, having overheated last year, the economy stalled in the third quarter, partly as a result of earlier interest-rate rises and modest fiscal tightening. The consensus forecast is for GDP to expand by only 3.3% this year. Second, the bank argues that inflation was boosted by one-off factors, such as big rises in municipal bus fares and a shortage of ethanol. In the minutes of its August meeting, the bank's monetary-policy committee stated that the deteriorating outlook for the world economy and falling commodity prices would put downward pressure on prices in Brazil, allowing inflation to reach the 4.5% target in the course of next year.

There are indeed signs that inflation is starting to fall. But the government's critics argue that by starting to cut so early and so aggressively, while inflation is still almost three points above the target, the bank has damaged its hard-won credibility. As a result, inflation expectations for the years ahead are rising. The minimum wage is due to rise by 14% or so in January and unemployment remains low. The biggest problem is that some prices and wages are indexed to last year's inflation, a hangover from the past.

The bank may yet be vindicated by outside events and turn out to have provided Brazil with a soft landing. As inflation falls, expectations will quickly follow, says Nelson Barbosa, the deputy finance minister. Certainly lower interest rates would help the country. Among the reasons why they are so high - including government borrowing, taxes on credit, and lack of competition in banking - the most powerful may be sheer inertia.

In a vicious circle, high rates depress investment, add to the government's borrowing costs (which total some 5% of GDP) and thus its fiscal deficit (of over 2% of GDP). They also attract hot money from abroad, which has helped to make the real uncomfortably strong, hurting exporters. "We are in a bad equilibrium," says Mr Barbosa. "We can live with this exchange rate with a lower interest rate, but not with this interest rate. One of them has to go."

The government wants the real interest rate to fall to 2%-3%, but Mr Barbosa insists this is not a formal target. If inflation rises, the bank will hike rates again, he says. Some other central banks, including America's Federal Reserve, have a mandate to pursue both growth and low inflation. But when it comes to inflation, Brazil is a recovering alcoholic. It needs its Central Bank to keep it on the straight and narrow.

(www.economist.com/node/21534796. Adapted)

Vocabulário do texto:

Inglês
Português
 targeting
mirando, objetivando 
 growth
crescimento 
 last
 último
 century
século  
 inflation
inflação 
 prominent 
preminente 
 feature
 característica 
 tamed 
 domou, amansou
 currency
 moeda 
 fiscal measures 
 medidas fiscais
 requiring
 exigindo
 granted
concedeu 
set  
estabeleceu, determinou 
interest rates  
 taxas de juros 
 target
mira, objetivo 
 plus 
  mais
 minus
 menos
 percentage 
porcentagem 
points 
 pontos
surprised 
surpreendeu 
 everyone
todos 
 cut
  cortou
 benchmark 
 marca de referência
 half 
 metade 
priority 
prioridade 
 goals
objetivos 
sustaining  
sustentando 
 preventing
prevenindo 
 keeping
mantendo 
 low 
baixo 
 cite
cita  
 reasons
motivos, razões 
 overheated
superaquecido 
 stalled
parado 
 rises
aumenta 
 tightening
apertando 
 forecast
previsão  
 GDP
PIB (produto interno bruto) 
 boosted
impulsionou 
 fares
tarifas 
 shortage
escassez  
 monetary-policy 
política monetária 
 outlook 
perspectiva 
falling  
caindo, em queda 
 downward
 para baixo
 pressure
pressão  
reach
alcançar 
 signs  sinais 
 starting começou 
 fall cair 
 critics críticos 
 argue argumentam 
 early cedo 
 while enquanto 
 still  ainda 
 almost quase  
 above  acima 
damaged  danificado, prejudicado 
 As a result consequentemente 
 minimum wage salário mínimo 
unemployment    desemprego 
 remains  permanece 
 indexed  indexado 
 hangover resaca 
 vindicated vindicado, justificado, provado 
 outside fora 
 expectations expectativas  
 Certainly   certamente
 borrowing  tomando emprestado 
 inertia  inércia 
 vicious circle   ciclo vicioso
 high rates  altas taxas de juros
 borrowing costs custos de empréstimos 
abroad   no exterior
 hike aumento 
 mandate  mandato 
 pursue buscar, perseguir  
 straight reto 
 narrow  estreito, apertado 

 1. Segundo os dois parágrafos iniciais do texto,

a) o Brasil conviveu com o problema da inflação ao longo de quase todo o século XX.
b) as medidas fiscais implantadas pelo Plano Real acabaram sendo bastante modestas.
c) o governo de Dilma Rousseff estabeleceu a meta inflacionária de 4,5%, aceitando pequenas variações.
d) as perspectivas da economia mundial estão sendo analisadas pelo COPOM desde agosto passado, a pedido do governo de Dilma Rousseff.
e) há um consenso de que o PIB de 2011 não aumentará mais de 3,3% neste ano devido ao aumento da inflação.

Resposta correta: a

Resolução: A primeira frase do texto afirma o seguinte: “For much of the last century inflation was as prominent a feature of Brazilian life as football”. (Durante grande parte do século passado, a inflação foi uma característica tão proeminente como o futebol na vida brasileira).

O início do texto afirma que a inflação foi um problema com o qual o Brasil conviveu durante quase todo o século passado. A resposta correta é, portanto, a alternativa a.

2. The fourth paragraph shows that the author of the article believes that

a) the Central Bank may eventually prove to be right.
b) interest rates will drop due to government borrowing.
c) inflation will fall quickly after next year is over.
d) the finance minister must be right in the measures taken.
e) the Central Bank will take a revenge on other countries.

Resposta correta: a

Resolução: O início do quarto parágrafo afirma o seguinte: “The bank may yet be vindicated by outside events”. (O banco ainda pode ser vindicado por eventos externos). Isso significa que certos eventos podem provar que o Banco Central estava certo em tomar as decisões que tomou.

3. A comparação indicada pelo fragmento do terceiro parágrafo - and wages are indexed to last year's inflation, a hangover from the past - está relacionada à comparação utilizada em

a) For much of the last century inflation was as prominent a feature of Brazilian life as football.
b) On October 19th, the bank did the same again.
c) But when it comes to inflation, Brazil is a recovering alcoholic.
d) In a vicious circle, high rates depress investment...
e) "We are in a bad equilibrium," says Mr Barbosa.

Resposta correta: c

Resolução: A palavra hangover significa “ressaca”. O texto emprega uma metáfora: a inflação é comparada a uma bebida alcóolica e o Brasil, a um alcóolatra em recuperação.

4. O autor do artigo acredita que a principal razão por que as taxas de juros brasileiras são tão altas talvez esteja

a) no preço das commodities, que caiu muito recentemente.
b) na pouca autonomia do Banco Central.
c) na imobilidade dos bancos comerciais.
d) na prática da indexação dos preços e salários.
e) na falta de iniciativa para solucionar a questão.

Resposta correta: e

Resolução: Ao citar os motivos por que as taxas de juros brasileiras são tão altas, o autor do texto escreve: “the most powerful may be sheer inertia”. (O maior (motivo) pode ser pura inércia). A resposta correta é, portanto, a alternativa e: falta de iniciativa (inércia) para solucionar a questão.