Monday, November 7, 2011

Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Rio Brazil) Point of View

.Here. Despite the evidence, this is not a travel blog

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My take on New York Times "36 hours in Brasilia"

There is little overlap between my "Brasilia for Tourists" post and the NYT recommendations. My comments are in blue.
4 p.m.

Start in the heart of the “Pilot Plan,” the original planned city, where three Niemeyer-designed buildings house the three branches of Brazilian government around Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers Square). They’re all classic, curvy Niemeyer: the Planalto Palace, where Brazil’s first female president works; the Federal Supreme Court; and towering over both, two sky-scraping office towers and the accompanying convex and concave domes where the National Congress sits. Stroll up the esplanade past the pale green ministry buildings to one of the most recent works by Niemeyer (who is still at it at age 103): the 2006 Honestino Guimarães National Museum (SCS, Lote 2; 55-61-3325-5220) where you can see the work of contemporary artists from around the world.
6 p.m.

The sunset in Brasília is beautiful from just about anywhere, but the best place of all to catch it is at the Ermida Dom Bosco (QI 29, Lago Sul), a Niemeyer-designed shrine across the artificial Lake Paranoá from the Pilot Plan. The lookout attracts a daily crowd that melts away once the sun is gone. Don’t follow the masses: stick it out with the stray couples (and coconut water vendors) and catch the stunning oranges and reds and lavenders that fill the sky about 20 minutes later.
8 p.m.

The most popular evening activity for all local residents is to eat, drink and talk at the hyper-social bars that serve young and old, straight and gay, beer-lovers and caipirinha aficionados alike. Perhaps the most traditional of all the watering holes is 55-year-old Beirute (CLS 109, Bloco A; 55-61-3244-1717), seamlessly mixing the older regulars with a young gay crowd; the food, as you might expect, runs Middle Eastern, including the football-shaped minced-meat and bulgur snacks known in Portuguese as kibes (from 3.50 reais, or $2 at 1.7 reais to the dollar). Two other favorites are Libanus (CLS 206, Bloco C, Loja 36; 55-61-3244-9795), younger and a bit more raucous, and Boteco (CLS 406, Bloco D, Loja 35; 55-61-3443-4344), a spirited Rio de Janeiro-style bar erected, in classic Brasília juxtaposition, across the parking lot from a supermarket. Waiters bring around trays bearing snacks to choose from; the most famous is the coxinha de camarão (7.90 reais), a shrimp version of Brazil’s staple bar snack, chicken croquettes.
Well, I hate the food at Beirute. Libanus is just ok. Boteco is not really a "Rio-style bar". In Rio, traditional botecos (with small "b") are much simpler and popular places that play a similar social role of British pubs. Cairipinhas at Brasília's Boteco are remarkably well done and not expensive at all. BTW, my favorite botecos in Brasilia are Piauí (403 Sul, bloco B - loja 20) for drinking/atmosphere and Amigão (food). The latter was Tyler Cowen's favorite! But these places are not for everyone: English is not spoken and the toilets are quite dirty.
9 a.m.

“Soupie” is how the Brazilians pronounce SUP, the abbreviation for stand-up paddle surfing, a sport involving you, a surfboard and a paddle. And you’ll need to pronounce it the way they do if you want the staff member at the gate of the Clube Naval (SCES, Trecho 2, Conjunto 13) to let you through to the lakeside base of Clube do Vento (55-61-8124-8596; For a mere 25 reais, you’ll soon be paddling out into Lake Paranoá toward the stunning Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge with its three criss-crossing arches, which opened in 2002 and immediately became a city landmark.
 I thought that Clube do Vento was my secret spot!  My wife practices SUP and I windsurf there.  James*, the owner, is such a nice (and hyperactive) guy. When he is not available by phone, you should e-mail him at  james@clube.... (He is Brazilian and the pronunciation of his name is something like "xãmees", but you can call him James.) 


Just about every Brazilian city outside the northeast has a healthy number of migrants from that cuisine-rich and financially poor region, but only Brasília has a branch of the northeast-based Mangai (SCE Sul; 55-61-3224-3079;, a palace of regional cuisine where diners pick and choose from a buffet of 80 or so main dishes (heavy on the pork and squash and manioc) and 40 or so desserts. Payment is by weight (46.90 reais per kilogram), a typical Brazilian restaurant scheme; about 35 reais will get you a full plate, a dessert and a fresh fruit juice. Also included: hammocks on the porch overlooking Lake Paranoá to take a postprandial rest.
The food is pretty good, but the place is huge. Oh, and you can eat the hanging bananas for free.
2 p.m.

No colonial-era churches in this town. Instead, Brasília’s houses of worship fit right in with the modernist theme. You’ve already caught a glimpse of Niemeyer’s National Cathedral near the ministries, now it’s time for a visit to what must be the bluest church in the world, the Dom Bosco Sanctuary (SEPS, Quadra 702; 55-61-3223-6542;, completed in 1970. Its 50-foot-high Gothic arches are filled in with 12 tones of blue stained glass, casting the interior (and its 2.75-ton chandelier and cedar cross) in haunting submarine tones. From there, continue south to the drastically more modest Igrejinha de Fátima (EQS 307/308;, the city’s first church, also a Niemeyer special.
4 p.m.

Late-afternoon samba is a Saturday tradition in town, and while the bars that host it may not be much to look at, the cold beer, a warm crowd and a hot band render the soulless venues atmospherically irrelevant. The hottest place these days is Cadê Tereza (CLS 201, Bloco B, Loja 1; 55-61-3225-0555;, named after a Jorge Ben Jor song whose title means “Where’s Tereza?” The likely answer to that question: If she didn’t get there early enough, she’s probably in line. Who knows if the new hot spot has staying power, so a safe backup is the longtime classic Calaf (SBS, Quadra 2, Bloco S; 55-61-3325-7408;, which brings unexpected weekend life to the otherwise abandoned Southern Banking Sector.
 It sound ok, but in fact I don't know.
9 p.m.

Dress up and head to one of Brasília’s most elegant and unusual restaurants. Aquavit (SMLN, Trecho 12, Conjunto 1, Casa 5; 55-61-3369-2301; There, the chef and owner Simon Lau Cederholm will greet you as if you were attending a dinner party at his house. And in fact, you are: the Denmark native opened the restaurant in his own home (which he designed; he’s also an architect) in 2005. The set menu is a mix of Danish cuisine, French technique and Brazilian ingredients. On a recent night the five course prix-fixe (192 reais, wine extra) included both a cold soup of cucumber with smoked salmon and a locally made cheese, which the chef whips and serves with cashew nuts and cashew fruit, an abundant crop in the region.
I changed my mind and decided to give it a try. Excellent. I would dare to say that it would earn one star (or even two) in a Michelin guide of Brasília (if there was one). Oh, and remember to bring the address with you, because the house is nondescript from the outside.
9 a.m.

The idea of a true French patisserie on the bland commercial blocks in Brasília is almost as counterintuitive as having a McDonald’s on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. But they both exist. The superior of the two is Daniel Briand Pâtissier & Chocolatier (SCLN 104, Bloco A, Loja 26, 55-61-3326-1135;, a breakfast- and brunch-lover’s dream. Breakfast platters start at 24.90 reais. Or order their elegant pastries, buttery croissants with housemade jams, fresh-made quiches or varied pâtés à la carte.
Well, it is just ok and overpriced. Bakeries in Brasil (and Brasília) are quite bad. The best baguette in town can be found at La Boulangerie.
10:30 a.m.

Head back to the Praça dos Três Poderes for a tour of the Planalto Palace, the work space of President Dilma Rousseff. The public spaces are filled with Brazilian art and modernist furniture by the celebrated Brazilian designer Sérgio Rodrigues. But that’s not all: you can also see the room where the cabinet meets, and even peek into the president’s office.

There’s barely a trace of poverty or even of the working class in Brasília. But that’s an illusion: the poorer residents of the Federal District live in “satellite cities,” dense clusters of high-rise apartment buildings that dot Brasília’s horizon. For a taste of life as it is really lived, head 30 minutes out of town to Ceilândia, where the central feira, or market (Avenida Hélio Prates between Via M Um and Via M Dois) hums Wednesday through Sunday. For about 7 reais, food stands offer huge plates of northeastern specialties — the real organs and bone marrow of it. Under the same roof you’ll find bakers, fruit sellers, discount clothing, tobacco salesmen and butchers. If Brasília is a modern Brazilian dream, Ceilândia is modern Brazilian reality.
Feira de Ceilândia is nice, but I think that  Feira do Guará offers a better experience. It is closer to Brasília (Plano Piloto)  and there is a metro station nearby. Vila Planalto (portuguese), a stone's throw of Palácio do Planalto, is another unplanned neighborhood with northeastern restaurants.
Further questions? Write a comment or reach me on Facebook.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homicides in Rio: a review of the data

I am so sorry. Back in February I wrote about the sharp fall of the homicide rate in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Daniel Cerqueira, an IPEA economist , has just found out that the data is seriously flawed (in Portuguese). Check Graph 4.2.  From 2006 on, there was a huge increase of violent deaths with "unknown causes" and the victims have demographic profiles strangely similar to the victims of homicides. True, homicide rates have fallen, but it was not as sharp as the official data shows.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Stature of Brazilians (1957-1987)

It seems that the 80's crisis hit the biological living standards of Brazilians. Shikida, Nogueról  and I are writing an updated version of our  paper using new data. The graph below show the heights of adult males by year of birth.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Brazilian States Renamed for Countries with Similar GDPs

Here by The Economist. Back in 2007 Davi Zell and I tried to make a similar map. But I must admit that the Economist one is much better. (The original idea, as far as I know, comes from strange maps.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

World Cup in Brazil - a simple proposal

The event will cost about USD 15 billion to Brazilian taxpayers. Proposal: transfer the World Cup to England. Half of the money saved would be shared among 100,000 winners of a national lottery. Each would receive USD 75,000 and would receive the patriotic mission of cheering for Brazil in Wembley.
The other half of the money would be spent in extravagant stuff, such as health and education.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011


-Natural experiments that should not be replicated :The long-run impact of bombing Vietnam; (HT Rafael);
- Sometimes culture matters: Anti-Semitic during the Black Death were most likely to acts of violence against Jews in interwar Germany);
- Journals: advices to editors and authors (Via Marginal Revolution. BTW, how come someone disagrees with the fact that MR is the best Economics blog ?!?!?);
- The Economist on the Brazilian North-east . Accurate facts, but the tone is a little bit too optimistic.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Surface of Consumption

This is a photograph of a model that Prof. Irving Fisher used in his classes. Beautiful.

I promise that I will stop complaining when I can not get the right colors in my scatterplots.
Source: Frisch, R. 1932. New methods of measuring marginal utility. Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr. p. 16.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How unequal is Brazil?

A lot. The table bellow shows monthly family income per capita by percentile. (Yes, it includes Bolsa Família, the cash based transfer program that reaches 11 million families).

Percentile R$ US$
5 53 33
10 100 62
50 375 233
90 1300 807
95 2000 1242
99 4650 2888
Source: PNAD (IBGE, 2009)

1,61 BRL=1 USD (the current exchange rate).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brasília for Tourists

Brasília is not as human unfriendly as it looks for the first time visitor. I guess that the best thing to do is to take a walk on its Superquadras, like SQS 308, and feel how it is to live here. The main tourist attractions are just there: Congresso Nacional, Palácio Itamaraty, Catedral and so on... Catetinho, the temporary home of the president during the construction of the capital, is far from the center and holds a small exhibition about the city. Interesting, but it appeals only to the Architecture/Brazilian history fans. Skip it if you do not have time to spare.

Brasília is not a place for foodies, but here is my list of restaurants
  • Ethnic or International: Despite all the embassies, the demographics is pretty homogeneous, so ethnic and international restaurants - in general - should be avoided. Palace Long Fu(Chinese) at Academia de Tênis is OK. Pretty much the same thing that you can find at an average restaurant in China. Servus is an Austrian restaurant in the countryside. The restaurant, almost hidden, is located about 40 minute away from the center of Brasilia near Tororó Falls. The owner speaks English and can give instructions. Opens on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are strongly recommended (Phone 3339-6180).
  • Brazilian Barbecue: Porcão and Fogo de Chão. The branches in Brasília offer the same top quality as everywhere else.
  • Regional (Northeast) food : Mangai is the one that everybody knows and recommends. It is pretty good, but my choice is Macambira (SCRLN 714 bloco F loja 22). The place is tiny, not well located and opens just for lunch. It is not as good as Mocotó (in São Paulo), but the idea is quite the same.Tia Zélia, Lula's favourite (people say), is just fine (Opens for lunch on Mondays to Fridays).
  • I've never been to Aquavit (Scandinavian). The prices are comparable to two-star restaurants in France. I will wait for the next Brazilian currency crisis to visit the place.:-)
  • Places to avoid: Beirute for its bad food, and Zuu , overpriced.

"Development Strategy or Endogenous Process? The Industrialization of Latin America" by Stephen Haber

Latin American industrialization was not a deliberate choice of the elites, or a long term strategy of development.
"Beginning in the 1890s the largest economies of Latin America conducted a 100- year experiment in which they built tremendous manufacturing sectors behind barriers to trade. This experiment was not carried out because public officials were ideologically committed to industrialization or because of economic theories that challenged free trade. Indeed, the growth of large scale manufacturing industry pre-dated structuralist theories by 60 years. Rather, Latin America’s industrialization was kick started by an endogenous process of economic development whose roots were found in the growth of the so-called export economy. Once industrialists got a foothold they lost no time in seeking tariff protection. Governments granted this protection because it came at virtually no political cost: the one class that stood to lose from trade protection, consumers, had no political voice. The result was that by 1914 all of the larger countries of Latin America had become increasingly protectionist, and were undergoing a rapid process of industrial growth.
The process of Latin American industrial development was always ad hoc. Governments did not grant trade protection because they were committed to a particular vision of industrial development. They did it because they were rewarding politically powerful constituents, some of whom were industrialists and some of whom The process of Latin American industrial development was always ad hoc. Governments did not grant trade protection because they were committed to a particular vision of industrial development. They did it because they were rewarding politically powerful constituents, some of whom were industrialists and some of whom were industrial unions."

This is music to my ears!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aelita: the Queen of Mars (1924) or Chavez was (almost) right

In fact, Socialism saved the Martian civilization! The DVD says:
Russia's first big budget science fiction spectacular. "Aelita, the Queen of Mars" is a fantastic adventure about Los, an engineer living in Moscow who dreams of Aelita and builds a spaceship to take him to her. They fall in love, but Los soon finds himself embroiled in a proletarian uprising to establish a Martian Union of Soviet Socialist Republics!

Youtube has the movie in 9 parts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The flood in South Saint Lawrence (Brazil)

Even worse than having your hometown destroyed by a flood is having your city destroyed by a flood while everybody is looking to the other side of the world. This is what happened to my former student and friend Martin Brauch and his São Lourenço do Sul, in southern Brazil.
He has created a website for those willing to help.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy Economics Day!

The Wealth of the Nations was published on 03/09/1776.
(Hopefully, there will be the day when a Google doodle will celebrate this day!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview with Ed Glaeser

Here. Excerpt:
"The great urbanist Jane Jacobs was correct about so much in cities, but she got housing prices wrong. She noted that old housing was cheaper than new housing, and so she thought that restricting new development could keep prices down. That’s not how supply and demand works. Abundant supply is the only way to reduce prices in really high-demand areas."

Update (via Mankiw's blog):

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hackerville, Romania

Marshallian externalities sometimes have a dark side: a cluster of cybercrooks:

“To the extent that some expertise is required, friends and family members of the original entrepreneurs are more likely to have access to those resources than would-be criminals in an isolated location,” says Michael Macy, a Cornell University sociologist who studies social networks. “There may also be local political resources that provide a degree of protection.”

Online thievery as a ticket to the good life spread from the early pioneers to scores of young men, infecting Râmnicu Vâlcea’s social fabric. The con artists were the ones with the nice cars and fancy clothes—the local kids made good. And just as in Silicon Valley, the clustering of operations in one place made it that much easier for more to get started. “There’s a high concentration of people offering the kinds of services you need to build a criminal scheme,” says Gary Dickson, an FBI agent who worked in Bucharest from 2005 to 2010. “If your specialty is auction frauds, you can find a money pick-up guy. If you’re a money pick-up guy, you can find a buyer for your services.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ronald Coase Institute - São Paulo Workshop on Institutional Analysis

As an alumnus of the Coase Institute, I strongly recommend the workshop. The deadline is February 15 and the organizers offer fellowships "to cover tuition, meals, and housing if these costs are a difficulty."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rio de Janerio murder rate shows a sharp fall

UPDATE: There are strong signs that the governmet has applied "creative accouting" methods in their numbers. Sorry for misleading you.
30 homicides per 100,000 is not a rate to be proud of. Nevertheless, things are getting better in Rio (and in São Paulo as well). I am not following the debate, but possible causes are: demographics, rising incarceration rates, new police practices, and falling inequality and unemployment.
The graph bellow shows the absolute number of homicides since 1991:

(Source, in Portuguese)

National Historical Geographic Information System

NHGIS provides to US census data (1790-2000) and boundary shapefiles !!! The interface is "for dummies" and the website is free!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Poorest Brazilians are as poor as the world's poorest...

...and the richest Brazilians are as rich as the world's richest. Furthermore, the median Brazilian has an income close to the poorest 5% Americans.
Very cool graph (via Economix; I suggest the whole post):

The graph comes from "The Haves and the Have-Nots,” by Brancko Milanovic. (He is the coauthor (with Lindert and Williamson) of a great paper).

Friday, January 28, 2011

China overtakes USA!!!

In 2008, the China's GDP per capita was US$6,725. This is a little bit higher than the GDP per capita of the USA... in 1928! Source: Maddison.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, prof Coase!

On December 29th, we has turned 100 year old. Amazing. He is still productive and in July his new book will be available: How China Became Capitalist. Here goes a brilliant recent interview . Excerpts:

WN: (...) You have high hopes that the future of economics is in China. What makes you think so?

RC: It is obvious. It is the size of Chinese population. A new idea is always accepted only by a small proportion of the population. But a small proportion of the Chinese is a big number.


RC: I am now 100 years old. At my stage, life requires a constant effort. As I told you many times, do not get old. (...)
Coase's Theorem and Ricardo's Comparative Advantage are the best single ideas in Economics. Simple, non-trivial and even inteligent people find it hard to grasp. In his twenties, Coase had already proved that he was a genius. The question posed in The Nature of the Firm "Why do firms exist?" opened a whole new research program and has changed economic thought forever. The answer, almost everybody agree, is transaction costs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spatial Econometrics Summer School - Rome 2011

Here. Instructors and presenters: Paelinck, Greene, Kelejian, Pesaran, Baltagi, Arbia and Bivand. Wow!

Sunday, January 16, 2011