Wall Street woke up feeling a little sad this morning, for its favorite candidate in Brazil’s presidential election, Marina Silva, placed third. This means the second-round vote, scheduled later this month on October 26, will be between the incumbent Workers Party candidate Dilma Rousseff and the neoliberal technocrat Aécio Neves. Rousseff is, as of now, favored to win.
Over the last two months, financial markets made it clear they wanted Silva to be the next president of Brazil. They really, really wanted her. A month ago, when Silva was unexpectedly rising in the polls, predicted to win, Brazil’s stock market soared, rising nearly 7 percent. Investors goosed Brazil’s real, for a short time making it “the world’s best performing major currency in the three weeks after Silva announced her candidacy on Aug. 16 and polls showed her in the lead.”
But then Rousseff rebounded in the polls and the love disappeared. Last week, the wolves of Wall Street exercised their “veto,” punishing both Brazil’s currency and stock market. The real tumbled to the lowest it’s been in six years and stocks suffered their worst one-day plunge in three years. Brazilians are used to this sort of thing. It happened every time Dilma’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, ran for the presidency (1989, 1994, and 1998) until, in the 2002 contest he finally won, he signed a pledge to the International Monetary Fund that he’d maintain a budget surplus and not renege on foreign debt. This time, though, it wasn’t enough to save Silva.
English-language readers (like actor Mark Ruffalo, who supported Silva until he learned that she was an evangelical Christian who opposed same-sex marriage) might be excused for thinking she had a shot. All the tribunes of the finance capitalism—such as The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times—had breathlessly lined up behind her, and none more so than The Economist. Under headlines such as “The Silva Surger,” “The Measure of Marina,” and “The Times They are A’Changing,” the magazine sold her virtues. London’s Times was calling for a Brazilian “regime change.”