Thursday, 11 March 2010

Eike the Spartan and How to make $100 billion in 10 years

Following the crisis, the richest people in the world have probably gotten poorer, just like the rest of us. But they are by no means poor. Eike Batista is a Brazilian entrepreneur that made most of his fortune in the mining sector. Batista rose to the top 10 of Forbes magazine’s billionaires list this week for the first time as his fortune soared to $27 billion. In 2009, the magazine ranked him as the 61st richest man in the world. He is now ranked 8th. And the man intends to become the richest by making $100bn in the next 10 years. How? I'm not quite sure. And apologies if the title misled you to believe that I would set out a cunning plan on "how to make you
$100bn richer in the next 10 years."

But such performance by Batista illustrates Brazil's potential in the global arena. It sets a good precedent and works as a strong indicator of the country's growth in the years to come. However, Brazil must continue its investment in infrastructure, energy and education. It must also keep an eye on its interest rates. The upcoming presidential elections will provide the world with a political laboratory to study the resilience of the Brazilian markets, and above all, to test the core policies of the next president.

Once characterised as a sleeping giant, Brazil's horizon is now relatively clear. The global political "axis of power" has flipped. A new world economic order is emerging. What role will the US play in the novus modus operandi? I haven't formed an opinion yet, but Eike seems to have a pretty good answer: "[the US is] now heavily indebted like Brazil was before. [It has] to be a little bit more Spartan. In the last 20 years [the US] has focused too much on banking and finance. The best students went to banks or law firms. Where are the engineers?"

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