I'm a bit behind because Brazil was such a fast paced tour. We've got a bit more time in South Africa now, so hopefully I can catch up (technically I'm still writing about Brazil while I'm in Africa).
Sao Paulo is certainly not Rio, we didn't see any "City of God" type slums, but that isn't to say it's a completely rosie picture. With cities its size, there's always going to be nice areas and some not so nice areas. One of the unique things about Sao Paulo is its graffiti, or a better term would perhaps be "street art." I think it's fair to say that it's a common form of expression in the lower income areas of the city we visited; some of it was satirical, some overtly political, some of it was simply "tagging" (just a publicly spray painted symbol or word denoting the tagger), but much of it was absolutely beautiful.
One of the reasons we visited Sao Paulo is "Beco do Batman." or, Batman alley. One of the things the municipal government there has done is to commission accomplished street artists to paint the walls of this particular alley. This is so the alley will draw tourists, tourists will spend money in that area of the city, which in turn will spur economic growth and raise the living conditions for those living in that area of the city. It's a classic example of aggregate expenditure and the multiplier effect, and it will appear as an example of such in Eric Chiang's new upcoming 4th edition of Economics: Principles for a Changing World.
Bruce Wayne lives here:
Just a few examples of the graffiti. I'll post the rest later:
This is from Space Invader, a world-famous street artist who works in mosaics:
Finally, the government spending might have worked too well: evidence of gentrification in this developers' notice: