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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The CEO of Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petrobras says there was no government interference in the company's decision not to increase the price of diesel after he received a phone call from President Jair Bolsonaro.

Details: Castello Branco, Petrobras' CEO, said Bolsonaro simply warned him during the call about the risks of a potential new truckers' strike if diesel prices rose, Reuters reports.

  • "The decision was taken by Petrobras management, no one told the company to cancel the price rise," Branco said.

Background: Bloomberg had previously reported that Bolsonaro made the call to tell Branco not to make the price hike, and Petrobras' stock fell by 8% after the news. Investors are worried that Brazil's new president, who came to office promising to jail his political opponents and praising the country's previous military dictatorship, will take a more hands-on approach to business decisions in Latin America's largest economy.

  • The Brazilian government effectively owns more than 60% of Petrobras, even though it is a publicly traded company.
  • Given not just the 20-year dictatorship in Brazil, but the penchant for state involvement of previous South American leaders like Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Hugo Chavez (and the unremarkable results), investors are understandably a bit uneasy.

The bottom line: Bolsonaro has routinely been referred to as a fascist by critics, and any indication that he's planning to put political interests over business interests at Petrobras is worrisome for Petrobras investors as well as just about any industry that does business with the government.

Go deeper: Brazil, Bolsonaro and the Bovespa

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
15 mins ago - Technology

Tech's race problem is all about power

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As problematic as the tech industry's diversity statistics are, activists say the focus on those numbers overlooks a more fundamental problem — one less about numbers than about power.

What they're saying: In tech, they argue, decision-making power remains largely concentrated in the hands of white men. The result is an industry whose products and working conditions belie the industry rhetoric about changing the world for the better.

Mayors fear long-lasting effects of COVID-19

Data: Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.

Coronavirus hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking ProjectHarvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Danielle Alberti and Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 100,000 Americans are now in the hospital with coronavirus infections — a new record, an indication that the pandemic is continuing to get worse and a reminder that the virus is still very dangerous.

Why it matters: Hospitalizations are a way to measure severe illnesses — and severe illnesses are on the rise across the U.S. In some areas, health systems and health care workers are already overwhelmed, and outbreaks are only getting worse.

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