President predicts Brazil will 'defeat the crisis' next year

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2016 1:26 PM
President predicts Brazil will 'defeat the crisis' next year

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's president predicted Thursday that Latin America's largest economy would emerge from a deep recession next year to "defeat the crisis," even as unemployment jumped yet again.

Brazil's economy has contracted for six straight quarters, and the IBGE statistics bureau reported Thursday that unemployment in the three months through November rose to 11.9 percent — nearly 3 percentage points higher than it was during the same period last year.

After the figures were announced, President Michel Temer told reporters that he was very concerned with high unemployment but said his government's reforms would start to turn the tide in the second half of next year. Congress has already passed a spending cap to address a serious deficit, and a reform to the social security system is making its way through the legislature. The government has also proposed a labor reform.

Temer said 2017 "will be the year that we defeat the crisis. ... We think, according to economic projections, that from the second semester of the coming year, it is very likely that unemployment will fall as a function of the measures we are taking."

Economists expect Brazil's economy to return to growth next year, but perhaps only by a small margin. Unemployment, however, generally lags behind in economic rebounds, and Brazil's rate could rise further before it turns a corner.

Thursday's data showed 12.1 million people are out of work. The rate is the highest since 2012, when Brazil changed how it measures unemployment. Unemployment has repeatedly hit new highs since May of last year.

Partially because the economic situation is so dire, the government's reforms so far have won broad support in Congress. But a slow drip of scandal has plagued Temer's administration, which began when the previous president was impeached and removed from office this year.

Temer is now facing increasing calls for his own impeachment, and he could be removed from office if a court finds him guilty of accepting illegal campaign contributions. He denies the charge.