BNDES Bigwigs Borked For Banking Boner


AES Eletropaulo: Did Toucan bankers abuse the grid long, long before the Squid?

MPF/RJ denuncia ex-presidentes e ex-diretores do BNDES: The federal public prosector in Rio de Janeiro moves against directors of BNDES — the Brazilian national economic development bank — in the infamous Eletropaulo privatization.

Ação questiona empréstimos para privatização da Eletropaulo.

Suit questions loans in Eletropaulo privatization.

O Ministério Público Federal no Rio de Janeiro ofereceu denúncia à Justiça contra cinco ex-presidentes e 12 ex-diretores do Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) responsáveis pela concessão de empréstimos para a privatização da Eletropaulo, em 1998. A denúncia, que tem como base relatório do Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU) e notas técnicas elaboradas por analistas do MPF, foi recebida pela 5ª Vara Federal Criminal do Rio de Janeiro, dando início à ação penal pública.

The Federal Public Ministry (MPF) in Rio de Janeiro filed a complaint against 5 former presidents and 12 former directors of BNDES who were responsible for loans issued during the privatization of Eletropaulo in 1998. The complaint, based on a report by the TCU (federal public acccounting tribunal, analogous, I suppose, to the ill-fated PCAOB) and technical reports by MPF analysts, was filed in the 5th Federal Criminal Court in Rio, opening a public criminal proceeding.

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“Lawmen, Not Outlaws, Key Barrier to FDI”: El Financiero


“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”: Not a recipe for enticing investors to your free and open capital markets.

El Financiero, which I think you could rightly call Mexico’s premier financial daily, launches what I think is a quiet broadside againt Plan Calderón today in its “Intelligence Unit” column.

Crime, the analysis suggests, is less of a concern to foreign investors than the unpredictability of contract and other rights enforcement in the Mexican judicial system.

Just ask NBC and Telemundo.

The unspoken point here: No matter what Transparency International says, the corruption is jaw-dropping and the police, army, government and judiciary may well play a larger role than the cocaine and marijuana rackets do.

Their use of violence, after all, is legitimated.

By the U.S. Dept. of State.

Mexico ranks 70 out of 163 nations in this year’s TI survey, where No. 1 indicates the most corruption-free countries according to survey respondents.

I would call that a gentleman’s C+.

And an absurdity, given the structural incentives to impunity in all areas of legal rights — personal as well as corporate — that exist there.

Kenya, site of the economic miracle documented in Ensminger’s “Making a Market,” — as well as this year’s World Social Forum — came in at 142 in the last survey.

Investigadores de El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Colef) sostienen que, en términos empíricos, la violencia delictiva puede frenar la llegada de capitales extranjeros, pero nada que quite el sueño.

Researchers from the College of the Northern Border (Colef) argue that, in empirical terms, criminal violence may negatively affect the flow of foreign investment capital into Mexico. But not to the extent that we should lose sleep over it.

Al interrogarles sobre ¿cómo influye la inseguridad pública en la decisión empresarial de invertir en México?, coinciden en que la inseguridad jurídica y la incapacidad para hacer respetar los derechos de propiedad y el cumplimiento de contratos son los verdaderos retos para las autoridades mexicanas para fomentar la llegada de más capitales extranjeros al país.

When asked how lack of public security weighed in business decisions about investing in Mexcio, [the researchers] agreed that uncertainties about the legal system and the lack of gurantees that property rights and contracts will be enforced are the true obstacles that Mexican authorities need to address in order to stimulate foreign investment.

It’s not the outlaws.

It’s the lawmen.

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Good News for Modern Internauts?


Porfirio Díaz, demagogic dictator of the mythical republic of Eldorado, in Glauber Rocha’s Terra em Transe (1967). The main character would be a broadband rentier if the film were remade today.

Appropriately enough, my Net Virtua cable broadband connection is going through its daily freaking brownout at the moment, so I am unable to link to the item I just noted on the Web site of ABUSAR (Associação Brasileira dos Usuários de Acesso Rápido) — the vigilante consumer’s union for Brazilian broadband users.

The acronym Abusar, by the way, means what you might guess it does:

It is cognate with the English word ‘abuse.’

Also appropriately enough.

The latest good news for modern Brazilian internauts is actually not the following note, posted well before the Christmas season, which may portend an end to broadband service that recquires Brazilian broadband subscribers to pay a monthly kickback to a third-party ISP that adds no value and provides no actual service.

The real good news — sort of — is the follow-up to the appearance of that star of hope over Bethlehem.

My wife, for example, has an aDSL line from Telefônica’s Speedy, but also has to pay UOL as her “ISP.”

Which is freaking outrageous. And one has no other options: the market is an aDSL-cable duopoly at the moment.

No dia 12/10/2006 será realizado um comunicado no Jornal Diário da Manhã, com circulação em todo o Estado de Goiás. Informando que devido à decisão judicial no Estado de Goiás, a partir de 13/10/2006 a Brasil Telecom passa a atender os clientes Banda Larga no Estado de Goiás, dispensando a contratação de provedor de Internet. Devem ser atendidos os clientes (novos clientes e clientes da base) de todos os segmentos (Massa, PME, Governo e Corporativo), para todos os planos do Turbo que manifestarem interesse em dispensar o provedor. Ou seja, tem de solicitar !

On Oct. 12, 2006, a legal notice will appear in the Morning Daily newspaper, which circulates throughout the state of Goiás, stating that due to a legal decision by a state court, starting on Oct. 13, Brasil Telecom will begin providing broadband to customers in Goiás without requiring a subscription to an ISP. This will apply to all clients (new and existing) in all market segments (mass-market, SME, government and corporate) of all Turbo plans who indicate an interest in dispensing with an ISP.

In other words, in order to [stop being gouged], you have to request it!

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I Am Qurious (Yellow Journalism): A Trivial Exercise in Documenting the Rhetoric of the Technological Sublime

This press release from iQurious arrives in my Gmail inbox — a key component of the NMM open-source Bloomberg box, though it is possible that other news alerts services might be just as good.

I have not formally compared them.

Look, you know the drill here, if you read the blog: it’s all about how a professional consumer of public relations sorts the daily flux of flackery into two piles: “Probably bullshit” and “possibly not bullshit.”

Once a vast, vast proportion of the content on post-contemporary flackwires is summary dealt with, then, the “possibly not bullshit pile” can be filtered further using tests designed to determine more precisely the S/PN ratio — sense to patent nonsense.

But there is an important caveat: Sometimes otherwise capable companies, with products or services that in a world ruled by a just and loving God would merit a fair chance of finding a market, hire lousy hack publicists.

I do admit that — although I tend to think of it, in my more cynical moments, as “The Wal-Mart Defense” — as a methodological axiom.

All I am saying here, then — knowing nothing of the company in question — is that the following is a good example of how to direct your release straight into my “probably bullshit” pile.

With prejudice.

First step, as always: circle the adjectives and buzzwords.

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 31, 2007 — iQurious(TM) Corporation, leaders of the revolution in application delivery, announced at the Government Technology Conference (GTC) Southwest that they have released iQaradigm(TM) 4G, a version of their groundbreaking iQaradigm application delivery system built specifically for federal, state and local government organizations. iQaradigm 4G, a set of software, tools, templates, and services, is built to save government agencies dramatic amounts of time and resources when creating, upgrading, and maintaining their IT infrastructures.

The clause that begins “when creating …” is a classic dangling modifier, because the grammatical subject of the sentence is “iQaradigm 4G.”

Based on extensive study, computer-aided by the NMM buzzword database, “Revolution,” “paradigm [shift],” “groundbreaking,” and “dramatic [savings of time and resources]” are among the words most highly correlated with the RTS, or “rhetorical of the technological sublime, which is itself proves to be significantly correlated with hype that does not pan out on closer inspection.

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São Paulo’s Kassab: On YouTube, All Politics is Yokel

Kassab faz “piada” com cratera do metrô e vídeo cai na web (Folha de S. Paulo): The mayor of São Paulo makes a “joke” about the smoking hole in the ground at the Pinheiros Station on the Yellow Line extension of the local subway system — which is a very groovy system, in many ways, by the way, except for the fact that is vastly more expensivethan the NYC system in terms of local purchasing power — and the video winds up on YouTube.

Download it quick.

Lawyers with gel in their hair are no doubt working up one of their boilerplate SLAPP suits as we speak.

O prefeito de São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab (PFL), aparece em um vídeo publicado no YouTube nesta semana comentando de forma jocosa um detalhe que lhe chamou atenção na tragédia da estação Pinheiros do metrô. [veja aqui]

Sampa mayor Gilberto Kassab (PFL) appears in a video published to YouTube this week, commenting, in a joking manner, on a detail that caught his attention during the Pinheiros Station tragedy earlier this month.

“Tem aquele motel ao lado do buraco do acidente do metrô que, quando veio o estrondo, imagina a zoeira que foi! Todo mundo saindo dos quartos…”, narra o prefeito. Segundo ele, a cena teria sido uma comédia para quem estava lá, “apesar da tragicidade do momento”.

“You’ve got this hotel right by the hole in that subway accident; when the shaking started, imagine the uproar! Everybody running out of the rooms,” the mayor relates. According to him, the scene must have been comical for someone who was on the scene, “despite the tragedy of the moment.”

I believe he is referring to one of São Paulo’s Tokyo-style so-called “love motels.”

Which, I have to say, really are something else. My favorite: The O Diabo (“the devil”) chain which litters the road to the Guarulhos International Airport. “Hey, honey, let’s go to the devil.” Kind of like dive bars named “The Office”: “Hey, honey, I am going to be late. I’m still at The Office.”

[rim shot].

A good money-laundering investment, one hears, these franchises.

Not a very good joke, but what the hell? A really, really bad joke is still a joke. When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around.

We saw Kassab on that same program last evening, celebrating an Ohtake-designed — we like to pronounce it “Oh, tacky” — dedicated busway designed to cut the communte time from Eastern Zone of the city to the downtown area by half.

Which if it works would be really quite nice. Less reason for the Sem-Teto to invade downtown buildings. Good for the nightmarish periferia, in theory.

The project, like many of the Alckmin-era pharaonic jeitinhos for the city’s traffic nightmares — cars floating away every time it rains, for example, or traffic backed up all the way to Santos — had been rusting for years. “Half-sunk, a shattered visage lies …”

To be fair, however, journalist Mino Carta, on his blog, was just the other day joking about the fact that the seventh fatality in the case was found with cocaine on his person. He quipped to the effect that the moral of the story might well be that “a random sample of São Paulo residents has now shown that one in seven are drug dealers.”

And another seventh are corporate lawyers [rim shot].

Random death. You have to laugh to keep from crying.

And believe me, we are no big fans of Kassab. That IPTU hike he tried, but failed, to pull? Hmmmmm. And we personally would have had to pay it, too.

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“Bulwark Against Populism”


Democratic Vista: “If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.” –Bill Gates.

El modelo Calderón: Carlos Fazio of La Jornada, a Uruguayan-born political scientist who survived an assassination attempt earlier this year after denouncing what he called “the journalism of infiltration” in the campaign mounted by Mexican mass media owners in support of PAN in last year’s elections, assesses the Felipe Calderón’s European tour.

One of the more interesting signs of the times this week is the transfer of the Internet domain odca.cl — the Web site of a Pinochetist party in Chile — to new owners. Administrative contacts: Manuel Espino, president of Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN) and Xavier Barrón, of Peru’s Partido Popular Cristiano.

See also my Spinning the World Backwards: Revolution and Counter-Revolution.

At the same time, this came over the press-release wires:

New Study: Mexican Political Polarization Limited to Elites Despite Contested 2006 Election

The topic: a symposium from the American Political Science Association, until recently headed by Harvard professor emeritus James Q. Wilson, the Ronald Reagan Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University — author of From Welfare Reform to Character Development — and now by Robert Axelrod of U. Michigan’s Gerald Ford Center for Public Policy.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — New research by political scientists challenges the belief, widespread following the hotly contested 2006 presidential election, that Mexican society is divided by deep political divisions. The findings conclude that claims of such divisions are unsupported by recent field research and that a better understanding of the state of Mexican democracy depends on improved observation of politics among Mexico’s political elite — which are more polarized now than at any time since 1988. The research is presented in a special symposium entitled “The 2006 Mexican Election and its Aftermath,” and includes contributions by seven political scientists who have been heavily involved in generating new sources of data to analyze Mexican politics. The symposium appears in the January 2007 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, a journal of the American Political Science Association (APSA).

The Chicago Boys, it seems, are back in business, and receiving massive support in the Latin American corporate media for the proposition that the choice between Pinochet-style dictatorship and direct democracy is a polarizing partisan issue.

The cold, hard question, I suppose, for the superior risk manager, is whether they can prevail, and whether the price of tortillas is consistent with Calderón’s pledge to “guarantee the security of foreign investments in Mexico.”

I tend to think that publications like La Jornada are the canary in the coal mine in this respect.

It is not a good sign for the Autonomous University-published daily, for example, that men linked to the 1968 Tlateloco massacre — and allegedly to the narcotraffic as well — are now firmly in charge of Mexico’s military.

I have a running bet with a foreign correspondent friend and colleague here that press freedom will soon be more explicitly curtailed — jailings and mass firings of journalists and installation of government shills in the key editorial positions, and draconian legal action, rather than the odd one-off assassination by glue-sniffing rent-a-sicários and their cousins from the local force — and that other aspects of a permanent state of exception will soon be explicitly evident in Calderón’s policies.

On the other hand, the freedom with which dailies like El Universal are going after massive corruption in the Fox administration, giving a wider audience to the work of investigative journalists like Miguel Badillo, Proceso, and Zeta, indicates that the polarization of Mexico’s “elites” could actually be the decisive factor here.

You might feel reassured by the notion that political polarization in Mexico is “confined to the elites,” but then again, you might well have your head firmly up your ass if you buy that notion without duing the due diligence on the downside risk.

See also “The Surprising Competence of Calderón the Harvard-Educated Technocrat.”

The emerging markets funds loved Zedillo, too, recall.

It is not a hard and fast rule, true, but as a rule of thumb, I find that journalists who get assassinated for reporting on corruption in high places are not generally assassinated because they are chasing phantasms in the night.

Therefore, I translate Mr. Fazio’s analysis, on the theory that there is at least a slight chance that this point of view represents a downside risk to the strategy of armed liberation of markets kept closed by “populist dictators.”

Calderón was elected with 35% of the vote in an election with 60% turnout, according to Wikipedia –I thought I saw a much lower figure the other day, let me check that — and as Brazil’s Lula pointed out at Davos, while Chávez was reelected in 2006 with some 63% of the vote in an election with 75% turnout. Lula was reelected with 61% of the vote and 83.2% turnout.

Systematic election fraud — at the national level, at least — has not been alleged by anyone in Venezuela or Brazil, that I know of.

El modelo Calderón

Con una diplomacia de “mercado”, oportunista y sin principios, y un discurso y prácticas políticas de corte ultraconservador propios de la guerra fría, Felipe Calderón y el Partido Acción Nacional se aprestan a ser más funcionales a Estados Unidos en su proyecto de reconquista en América Latina.

With a “market driven” diplomacy, opportunistic and devoid of principle, Felipe Calderón and PAN are in a hurry to sign up as employees of the United States in its project to reconquer Latin America.

En Davos, Suiza, al más puro estilo foxista, Calderón alabó al “libre mercado” y criticó las expropiaciones, las nacionalizaciones y las “dictaduras personales vitalicias”. En México, Manuel Espino, un anticomunista cerril que preside al PAN y a la Organización Demócrata Cristiana de América (ODCA), anunció que la derecha “va por todo” en Latinoamérica, con la mira puesta en tres objetivos principales: Cuba, Bolivia y Venezuela; los mismos que figuran en la agenda subregional de Washington.

In Davos, Calderón praised “the free market” in the purest tradition of Vincente Fox and criticized expropriations, nationalizations and “personal dictators for life.” In Mexico, Manuel Espino, the crude anticommunist who presides over PAN and the Christan Democrat Organization of America, announced that the right “is going for it” in Latin America, with its eye on three objectives: Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, the same targets that loom largest in the regional agenda of Washington.

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Belo Horizonte Baldy Bombshell to Burst


Marco Valério Fernandes de Souza: Kojak fan, mineiro, ad man and slush-fund facilitator. The hand gesture pictured in this Wikipedia portrait, in Brazil, by the way, means “shove it up your ass” rather than “okay.” A little Brazilian Wikihumor by the poster.

Blog do Mino, the quasi-daily pensamentos of the veteran Italo-Paulista muckraker, informs:

A Polícia Federal entrega amanhã ao STF os resultados de suas investigações sobre o valerioduto mineiro. Sim, a turma tucana recebeu recursos públicos, via empresa de Marcos Valério, para financiar a campanha de 1998, incluindo o atual senador Eduardo Azeredo, ex-presidente do PSDB. Como se sabe, na conclusão dos seus trabalhos, a CPI sobre o valerioduto sugeriu o indiciamento de Azeredo. Rápido no gatilho, o Conselho de Ética e Decoro Parlamentar do Senado arquivou a representação contra o ex-presidente do PSDB, sob a alegação de que o episódio se deu depois de sua eleição ao senado. A máfia russa, ou siciliana, ou japonesa, não fariam melhor caso estivessem no poder.

The Federal Police will turn over to the Supreme Court tomorrow the results of its investigation into the Minas Gerais money-laundering and political slush-fund pipeline known as the Valerioduto, after Belo Horizonte ad agency impresario Marcos Valério Fernandes de Souza [above –Ed.]. Yes, the PSDB gang did get public money, through the ad man’s agency, to finance its 1998 campaign, including current Sen. Eduardo Azeredo, former party president. As is already known, at the conclusion of its investigation, the congressional probe of the matter recommended the indictment of Azeredo. Fast on the trigger, the Senate Committee on Ethics and Parliamentary Decorum tabled the charges against the former PSDB president, on the grounds that the episode in question occurred after his election to the Senate. The Russian, or Sicilian, or Japanese mafia could not have done it any better had they been in power.

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