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President Temer Is Using Positive Economic News to Divert Attention from the Political Crisis

03/17/2017 - 13h42

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BRUNO BOGHOSSIAN
MAELI PRADO
GUSTAVO URIBE
FROM BRASÍLIA

In an attempt to release a bundle of good news to convince markets that the country's economy has not been affected by political instability, the federal government has anticipated the release of a first batch of optimistic results regarding the country's labor market.

Results on the issue had not been optimistic for two years.

Michel Temer, in what may be considered an unusual move for the sitting president, decided to announce the results himself on Thursday (the 16th), stating that new hires exceeded dismissals in February.

In an effort to associate his own name to optimistic economic results, that same day Temer also spoke of the dispute between foreign investors over four Brazilian airports, as well as an improvement of Moody's assessment of Brazil's credit rating.

Results obtained by Caged (General Registry of Employment and Unemployment) reveal that 36.5 thousand jobs were created last month (the figure was arrived at by subtracting dismissals from new hires). The Labor Ministry hadn't announced a positive result since March of 2015.

Ever since employment started declining in 2015 - a phenomenon that started taking place during the Dilma government - results obtained by Caged started being released online, bringing to an end a tradition in which Labor Ministers themselves would concede such results in an interview.

According to the Labor Ministry, this time around "a greater effort was made" to disseminate the results, given the positive outcome. Such results are typically released at the end of the month.

CAUTION

José Marcio Camargo, an economist at resource management firm Opus Gestão de Recursos, said that it will still take a while before unemployment decreases, but the positive outcome indicates that the government's efforts are producing results. André Perfeito, an economist at investment firm Gradual Investimentos, does not think that the government's economic policy influenced last month's results, stating that 1.33 million jobs were lost over the last 12 months.

Consulting firm Tendências claims that the positive outcome was contingent on specific factors which are related to the time of year. The firm believes that the labor market will grow at a slow pace during the first semester of 2017, but that things will speed up during the second semester.

WOUNDED

The government sustained injuries at the beginning of the week when it found itself on the receiving end of damaging events, such as the release of a list of politicians caught up in a corruption probe pertaining to the Lava Jato investigation, as well as mass demonstrations connected to the government's proposed social security reform bill.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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