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Opinion

Financial crisis: Brazilian despair bursts into the open

Bankers sign up to open letter decrying the government’s handling of the crisis.

Rob Dwyer Latin America COLUMN MAIN 1920px.jpg

Jose Olympio Pereira, CEO of Credit Suisse Brazil, is one of the most upbeat bankers I have ever met. Over the decade I have spent in the country, his outlook on the Brazilian economy has consistently been an outlier to the upside.

Olympio has gone through Brazil’s many challenges – its deepest ever recession, popular protests and impeachments – with a view that the glass, while perhaps not quite half full, is at least one-third full and sure to be topped up soon.

So, when I read that Olympio had told a local newspaper that he had “lost hope” with the country’s president Jair Bolsonaro and his response to the pandemic, it was significant.

It was hardly a shock that he had lost hope, given the gravity of the public health situation in the country, but the fact that he said it – publicly – is striking.

And he’s not alone.

In March, he was one of the more than 200 signatories to an open letter decrying the Brazilian government’s handling of the health crisis – and the economy.

Olympio was joined by many heavyweight names from banking, economics and business: Roberto Setubal and Pedro Moreira Salles – Itaú’s co-chairmen – both signed, as did ex-central bank presidents Ilan Goldfajn, Arminio Fraga, Gustavo Loyola and Persio Arida.


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