Brazil's 2-year recession is nation's worst on record

By Allen Cone   |   March 7, 2017 at 3:15 PM

March 7 (UPI) -- Brazil is in the midst of a two-year recession, the worst decline on record for the Latin America nation.

Brazil's economy decreased by 3.6 percent in one year after a 3.8 decline in 2015, according to Brazil's statistics institute, IBGE.

Unemployment has increased to 12.6 percent, a 76 percent increase in just two years, and 12.9 million people are now out of work.

The nation, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2016, has been faced with a two-fold problem -- a fall in commodity prices and a political crisis.

Key exports, including oil, soy and metals, have declined.

Former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached for illegally manipulating government accounts. Construction company Odebrecht, implicated in the massive government bribery ring, paid the largest anti-corruption fine in history in December -- at least $2.6 billion to Brazil, Switzerland and the United States.

President Michel Temer took office in May and his approval rating is around 10 percent. Five of his cabinet ministers have resigned due to corruption allegations, and last week Foreign Minister Jose Serra resigned, citing health reasons.

The Olympic facilities, including Rio's Maracana Stadium, have become "ghost stadiums" -- unused and vandalized.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts Brazil's recession will end this year but that growth will be just 0.5 percent for 2017.

Brazil's stock market is up 60 percent in the past 12 months and inflation is stabilizing.

"It doesn't feel like the recession is over in the streets of Brazil, but you find a lot of optimism in board rooms and within the ranks for government," Brian Winter, vice president at the Council of the Americas, told CNN.

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