What You Need to Know About Brazil's Slowing Economy

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What's happening in the headlines can affect you as an investor. Here's what's going on, what you need to know, and what you should do.

The cold, hard facts
The Financial Times is reporting that gross domestic product in superstar emerging market Brazil contracted 0.04% in the quarter ending Sept. 30, as weakness in the industrial sector is now spreading to the country's typically vibrant consumer.

Some context
According to the latest GDP figures, China, Brazil, and India, the world's three largest emerging economies, are all slowing down. Other big emerging economies, notably Russia and Indonesia, posted increases in third-quarter growth, but a slowdown is looming even in these go-go economies. Why?

For one thing, the eurozone crisis is affecting consumer confidence everywhere. Also, overall economic sluggishness in Europe and the U.S. is curbing demand for manufactured goods from all emerging markets and for the minerals produced by resource-rich countries like Brazil.

What you need to know
But the emerging markets aren't supposed to slow down, are they? Their economies are the great financial messiahs that, no matter how dark and dismal the rest of the world economy gets, can be counted on to forever forge ahead and carry the world on their broad shoulders.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. The world's factories and commodities suppliers need other countries to sell their goods to. But the news isn't all bad. Emerging-market growth rates are still forecast to remain much higher than in the developed world, with China, for example, predicted to grow at around 8% in 2012.

And while the market has been up and down for a while now, the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) and the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) have generally been on the upside, and the Dow Jones (INDEX: ^DJI) is running at pre-recession levels. Finally, in case you hadn't heard, unemployment is down as well, dipping under 9% to settle in at 8.6%. Things could be worse.

At The Motley Fool, our advice in times of potential financial turmoil is simple: Don't have money in the market that you're going to need over the next three to five years, keep an eye on the fundamentals of the companies you're invested in, and stay calm. Like us, you're in it for the long term.

Keep track of what's happening with the stocks mentioned here by adding them toMy Watchlist, a free service of The Motley Fool that lets you easily keep up with everything on your investing radar.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorJohn Grgurichloves the smell of newsprint in the morning. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a scintillatingdisclosure policy.

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