Take physic, pomp

At last, intelligent comment on Brazil at IKN

Of the multiple moans and groans i get from regular mailers, top of the list is always “Why so little on Brazil, Otto?” It’s true; for a LatAm blog, this humble corner of cyberspace is woefully short on Brazilstuff. The main reason is that I don’t know so much about the place (and it’s my blog, so tough), but happily, joyously, wonderfully and finally HELP IS AT HAND. From today, we’ll be joined from time to time by guestblogger Lime Slime, a dude who has forgotten more than most of us know about Lulalandia. Lime Slime wishes to remain under the deep cover of pseudonymity (is dat a word?), so all I’m going to say is that he and I have drunk beer together in the past.

So on with the show, and Lime Slime’s first dispatch on Brazil. Enjoy.
Really, our planes ARE better!

by Lime Slime

In Brazil, there’s a large story, complete with fancy diagrams for wannabee pilots and arms junkies, saying that Brazil’s Air Force is favoring, drumroll please, EMBRAER to be its new preferred supplier of high-tech planes.

The story is pure PR crap. Its argument hinges on the fact that bids by European and US aircraft makers won’t make the cut because of technology transfer rules, which basically means that Brazil wants to know how the systems it flies work from the inside out, while some foreign governments want to prevent Brazil from becoming even more sophisticated and powerful. This is nonsense. These tech transfer rules can be worked out, and while Embraer is a great company, with innovative products, it doesn’t know crap about building fighter jets.
What’s really going on is that Brazil, and especially the Lula administration, is pursuing yet another industrial policy and giving handouts or big breaks to domestic players. They’ve done this time and again in shipbuilding, telecoms, mining, the beverages sector and now this. It’s really a revival of policies from the 1970s, when the military was still in power and pursuing a state-centered development model. Sometimes the policies end up working, but often they end up costing taxpayers and consumers a lot more. Try buying a car in Brazil. They are 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than in most other countries, mainly because domestic manufacturers are protected. Same goes for electronics. Ever heard of the Ipod index? Check it out. Brazil’s a great place to live, but a shitty place to be a consumer, and an awful place to be a fighter pilot.

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