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Latin America: Goldfajn plots a happy ending for Brazil interest rates

The new president of Brazil’s central bank has identified the large interest rate spread applied by banks on top of the base rate as an obstacle to economic growth. His plan to increase competition and reduce this ‘spread bancario’ is long overdue.

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Illustration: Pete Ellis

On an average night, about 46 million Brazilians settle down to watch TV channel Globo’s evening novella. The actors grapple daily with love and sex, marriage and betrayal. As well as being a bit of light relief, the TV novellas have been used as a force for good: portrayals of gay characters and couples have helped increase the tolerance of gay rights in the country. Health messages have been woven into the plots to raise awareness and lower infection rates of certain mosquito-borne viruses.

And in the near future – if Ilan Goldfajn, the new president of the country’s central bank gets his way – one of the lead actors may be seen opening a credit card statement, furrowing her brow before picking up a tablet and opening the browser. The camera zooms in over her shoulder and focuses on her typing the Portuguese for ‘debt consolidation options via low APR loans secured by home equity’.

“If you could get the main actor in a novella to do a financial calculation, that would be great,” says Goldfajn.