Sao Paulo has the best…

Yesterday we went on a bus tour around the city of Sao Paulo. FGV University put this together for us, and along with a few faculty members, invited a professional tour guide to talk us through the various sites. Most of what we saw was identical to the 1-Day recommended tour from my TripAdvisor City Guide map (highly recommend this app, it downloads a city once and then has fully available maps, tours, recommendations, GPS, etc. while offline).

I got a little sick of hearing, Sao Paulo has “the best…” or “the most…” or “the biggest…”, but when you have a city of 22 million people, the statistics are bound to start adding up. Here are just a few things we learned on tour yesterday. Sao Paulo is/has the…

  • 4th largest city in the world
  • Largest fleet of personal helicopters (470) in the world
  • 5th most skyscrapers (over 5,700)
  • 10th richest city, with nearly $400 billion in GDP purchase power
  • 6th most billionaires (21)
  • 4th most active on Twitter
  • Most Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris
  • Largest exporter of beef, chicken, coffee, tobacco, iron, steel, and more
  • 3rd largest airline manufacturer
  • Largest oil reserves (mostly offshore), producing 60 million barrels a day
  • First country to provide free Cancer and HIV/AIDS healthcare
  • Home to the 4th largest cathedral (Sao Paulo Cathedral, pictured above)
  • Home to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics

Would you like to know more?

The Dolphin Tuna: US Trade Power Over the Americas

This morning we had a lecture on Tariffs and Trades with Brazil and other emerging markets, known as the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). I continue to be impressed by the caliber of teacher our university, Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV), provides us. Each morning and afternoon we are met with FGV professors that are not only clear experts in their area, but speak with such passion and animation for their fields that we can not help but get caught up.

This morning was a prime example. There isn’t much in business that turns me off more than trade laws, tariffs, and treaties (well, maybe statistics) … and we had 3 hours of it this morning. On paper? Looked like hell. However, in person? Surprisingly interesting. I found myself constantly looking up additional info on the terms, treaties, stories, and charts the Prof quickly ran through to learn more and engage. And, by the way, I do mean “ran through”. I lost count of how many slides she skipped over, saying “you can read this one later in bed”.

One of my favorite discussions of the class was around the international animal rights that the US has attempted to impose at the WTO (and not just because I am marrying a veterinarian in 4 months). Sure, it’s a good cross-profession dinner table discussion for us, but this is generally an interesting look at US foreign trade relations that I think many will find interesting:

(no time to validate these facts, but just assume I’m right or look it up and tell me otherwise)

The Dolphin Tuna Fish Dilemma

The concept of dolphin-safe tuna labeling originated in the United States when the US wanted to increase tariffs to Mexico, if they did not impose changes to their tuna fishing practices. The problem, as you may remember, was that too many dolphins were being caught and killed in the nets of Mexican tuna fishing boats that import to the US. In 1989, the US. brought the “Marine Mammal Protection Act” to the WTO, which would have forced Mexico to change fishing practices. However, because this act was based on US only regulations, it violated the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (“Agreement”) and the WTO ruled in favor of Mexico (more info available here).

However, the US responded to this was with a marketing campaign to expose the issue to US citizens, driving down the sale of tuna fish to consumers. (I was only 8 but I remember my mother telling me to look on the label for “dolphin-free tuna”). The campaign worked, consumption fell, and Mexico eventually buckled. A new process was put in place where tuna fishing nets are collected a meter below the water surface (where supposedly dolphins can just jump over).

There is another example we discussed – Sea Turtles being caught in Brazilian lobster traps. But since Sea Turtles are an international endangered species, the US was correct in their imposition to the WTO, and practices changed quickly to allow an “escape hatch” for sea turtles to escape the traps. Check it out here for more info.

Hearing this story from the perspective of a Brazilian world trade expert certainly puts a different spin on the situation. It may be my natural pull to humanities teaching, but I truly enjoyed this historical and socio-political context to what would otherwise be dry statistics regurgitation. Our FGV professor did a great job of making us think analytically about the impacts to trade and treaty situations with Brazil, the BRICS group, and general foreign trade.

The $1 “Trillion” Coin

I woke up, my first morning in São Paulo, to learn of the US Government’s genius plan to save our economy with the minting of a $1 Trillion coin. I did not think much of it, besides how crazy an idea it was, and chuckled (past tense of Chaz?) as I made my way to class.

Our first class was called “Surviving Portuguese”, and was a 3 hour crash course in the native language. Luckily, Portuguese is written and read nearly identical to Spanish, so it was a good refresher from my last study abroad in Cuernavaca. Things were going around normally, until someone mentioned cultural differences in numbers. This became important as i thought about the CNN story on our new special coin.

I have studied 4 languages, and never before has this been brought to my attention before: 1 Trillion is NOT a universal quantity, and can be quite culturally confusing. In the US, 1 Trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeros. However…

  • In England and Australia, a 1 followed by 18 zeros is “Trillion”
  • In Central and South America (Spanish/Portuguese), a 1 followed by 12 zeros is “Billion”

Fifteen years studying foreign languages, and this has never come up. I guess most professors never thought we’d ever use a number that high … but then again, we never had a coin worth that much either. If the general US consensus about this $1 Trillion coin sounds a bit crazy (spelled “Cryze” by our lovely professor today), I can only imagine what the English think of it.

Back, and Brazilian than Ever

Well well well, what have we here?! Hello Neiman is being resurrected (once again) at the start of 2013. But this time its not just for normal everyday blogging and FiveDollarLiving deals (sorry Edlavitch). While studying abroad in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I decided it would be fun to share a daily journal about some of the more unique and interesting things I am learning. It has been about one year since i posted, but hopefully the blog is still up, running, and posting to FB/Twitter appropriately.

Happy Reading and Hello Neiman!