National Politics

National Politics, Society, Sustainable Cities

Public safety in NYC and Rio de Janeiro: parallel or poles apart?


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By Caroline Tauk

[7 min read]

New York City is the largest and safest US metropolis[1]. Per capita crime rates have been dropping since the mid-1990s. In 2017, the city recorded its lowest number of homicides since 1950: under 300 murders in a year[2]. As a carioca, it’s difficult to avoid comparing these statistics with Rio de Janeiro, a city notorious for its high criminality rate. In 2016, the city of Rio had 1,909 violent deaths resulting from homicides, robberies and bodily injury followed by death. At the end of 2017, the entire state of Rio saw a record-setting 6,731 violent deaths[3]. It seems that, in terms of public safety, the two cities are polar opposites: a crime rate at record lows on one hand and an alarmingly and increasing high crime rate in the other. The experience exchange between Brazil and the United States in this area is old[4]. However, recent public safety data available at the police departments from the two cities shows that the debate remains as relevant as ever.

It is clear that Rio’s and Brazil’s context is peculiar. Despite a positive economic growth, on average, in the last decade[5], wealth and opportunity inequality is still considerable[6]: in 2017, the richest 10% of the population concentrated 55% of the national income. Add to that political instability and low priority of criminal justice reform. Drug use by Brazilians is growing and much of Brazil’s violence and criminality are linked to organized crime. Further, a disproportionate number of young black men are arrested and prosecuted for diverse crimes: while 53% of the Brazilian population over 15 years declare themselves black, 64% of prisoners are black. Of every 100 homicides in Brazil, 71 are within the black population[7]. Although socio-political factors are somewhat different, is it possible to learn from the American experience?

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Blog, Economy, National Politics

The Brazilian fiscal crisis: the lost credibility


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By Tatiana Acar

[7 min read]

 

Assessing how credibility affects both the economy and individuals in a tangible way is a complex issue in the economic debate. We can conceive the delicate concept of confidence through the image of a horse being trained to jump obstacles. In order to gain his trust, the athlete needs to show commitment and respect. With sufficient warning, the horse tends to follow his commands, and both will have a durable relationship. However, unexpectedly forcing it to jump will make the horse suspicious. If surprised, he can harm the athlete and destroy all the environment around him. Worse, once the trust is betrayed, it is hard to recover it. Brazil’s current crisis scenario could be linked to this metaphor since the fiscal misconduct seen in the last years has undermined the population’s confidence and generated great disarray among consumers, businesses, and investors. Output growth has fallen more than 7% in two years[1], causing unemployment more than doubling[2]. Recovering the lost development will consume a large part of Brazil’s next presidential term, which has been predicted by some analysts already[3]. But why has the country reached this stage? What is the relationship between credibility and the level of employment and income?

Credibility is built when people notice, over time, that the government has not only committed to the policy it communicated, but it has also managed to achieve its goals[4]. When a government spends continuously and increasingly, uncertainty about the country’s fiscal solvency tends to be higher. Thus, the effect of fiscal stimulus on the economy and individuals might become counterproductive by pushing up long-term interest rates, inflationary expectations and undermining longer-term growth prospects. This puts the government into a dangerous vicious circle, as the fall in the output causes a drop on tax revenues, further increasing the fiscal imbalance.

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