It's getting really crazy down in Brazil

Last night, I was chatting with a Brazilian friend.  He said: "Did you hear about Lula running for president from jail?"

And we think our politics is crazy?

This is from VOA:

Brazil's Workers Party registered imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday as its candidate for the October presidential election, despite his serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and facing several more graft trials.

Several thousand supporters marched to Brazil's top electoral court chanting "Free Lula" and "Lula for President" as they accompanied top members of his PT party to register his candidacy just hours before the deadline.

While he was nominated earlier this month to be his party's candidate, Lula is expected to be barred from running by the country's top electoral court since Brazilian law bars candidates whose conviction has been upheld on appeal, which is Lula's situation. 

Lula has been jailed since April but still leads all election polling.

As you may remember, Lula (actually or his nickname) was the darling of the multinationals and the E.U.  He had the good fortune of serving as president during a huge economic boom but left a massively corrupt state.  It all fell apart when commodities prices dropped and the economy collapsed into a historic recession.  Eventually, his successor was forced to leave office over corruption charges.

The Lula story raises two interesting points.

First, how will the markets react to the Lula from jail candidacy?  So far, not good.  I think investors fear a return of the populism that wrecked the economy in the first place.

Second, it reminds us of the cult of personality disease that has hurt so many Latin American countries.

The bad news is that many of my Brazilian friends are embarrassed to talk about this.  The good news is that they think the courts will stop him.

In the meantime, I'm drinking a cup of Brazilian coffee and wondering how crazy the politics is down there.

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