Sunny Brazilians see bright side of the crisis

Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:19pm EST
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By Raymond Colitt

BRASILIA (Reuters) - "What crisis?" Brazil's president famously asked as financial turmoil began whipping around the world last year. Six months later, that still seems to sum up the view of many Brazilians.

Despite mounting job losses among the growing signs that the crisis could hit Latin America's biggest economy hard, the land of Carnival, samba and soccer appears stubbornly optimistic it will emerge nearly unscathed from the crisis.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former factory worker, has taken the lead.

"Brazil today is the country that is best placed to come out of this crisis," he said this week.

With his party facing a general election next year, Lula could be expected to stay upbeat. But he is not alone.

An opinion poll this month showed a majority of Brazilians expect their economy to recover shortly, with around 51 percent betting employment and salaries will improve over the next six months, up from around 47 percent in December.

Car sales in January grew for the second consecutive month indicating consumer confidence.

Chocolate makers say they are producing a record number of Easter Eggs in anticipation of stellar demand this year, and bustling shopping malls in major cities are a far cry from the consumer gloom in Europe or the United States.   Continued...