Jair Bolsonaro, presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL), waves to supporters during a campaign rally in Taguatinga, Brazil. (Photographer: Andre Coelho/Bloomberg)

Brazilians Have Never Been So Sanguine About Economy, Poll Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilians’ optimism about the economy has soared to a record high as President-elect Jair Bolsonaro prepares to take office on Jan. 1, according to a Datafolha poll published on Sunday.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents said Latin America’s largest economy will improve in the coming months, compared with only 23 percent in August, before the October presidential vote, the poll found. That’s the largest percentage of upbeat Brazilians since the polling company started the survey in 1997, during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s presidency.

While optimism about the future traditionally increases at the beginning of a new government, expectations are particularly high for Bolsonaro, who was elected on promises to rid the government of corruption, fight crime and boost the economy. After a deep recession in 2015 and 2016, Brazil’s recovery has so far disappointed, with gross domestic product expected to expand little more than 1 percent this year.

That puts pressure on Paulo Guedes, whom Bolsonaro tapped as an economy super minister, to quickly approve reforms needed to unlock economic growth. His first test will be an overhaul of the pension system -- a task investors consider crucial to ensure Brazil’s fiscal stability.

The Datafolha poll, which surveyed 2,077 people from Dec. 18-19, comes after other data showing an improvement in consumer and business sentiment after Bolsonaro’s election. That optimism has yet to encourage Brazilians to go shopping. Retail sales unexpectedly declined for a second consecutive month in October as double-digit unemployment continued to offset the positive impact of record-low interest rates.

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