Brazil: Check, Please

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SAO PAULO, Brazil: The presidential election is over, and the first-ballot reelection of the IMF's preferred candidate, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, looks sewn up. So where's his reward -- the $30 billion bailout? For one thing, the IMF and the U.S., along with the rest of the G-7 nations, are still working on it. For another, it's supposed to be a secret.

"Washington doesn't want to publicize it yet, because there are still runoff gubernatorial elections in which Cardoso needs support," says TIME business reporter Bernard Baumohl. "The news that austerity measures are coming along with the bailout might cost him politically with constituents." But Cardoso is pressed for time. His best chance to get those painful budget cuts through Brazil's Congress is to move fast, while he's dealing with an outgoing group that's less likely to worry about short-term political fallout. That's a presidential problem Bill Clinton would love to have right now -- his Congress looks ready to hit the campaign trail without coughing up the $18 billion in U.S. commitments to the IMF that the low-on-funds fund desperately needs. It certainly won't help Cardoso's approval ratings if the bailout check bounces.