Credit boom times in Brazil

Brazilians bemoan the fact that the first of their compatriots to make Forbes’ much-envied list of worldwide billionaires is a banker: Joseph Moises Safra, of Safra Bank. Safra’s $7.4 billion fortune nabbed him the number 69 slot on the magazine’s list in 2006. It’s probably no coincidence that the second of their countrymen to make it, Aloysio de Andrade Faria, of Banco Alfa, is also a banker.

Brazilian banking is enjoying a boom. Much of this is down to lending, which has been growing at between 20%-25% annually as interest rates fall. Lower rates make consumers feel more comfortable with borrowing, banks with lending. “Just a few years ago, working capital for companies and personal loans for individuals lay outside the banking system,” says Ademir Cossiello, managing director at Bradesco. “Now, they’re being brought inside.”

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