The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Latin 100 2003: Brazilian banks profit as foreigners quit

With inflation falling in Brazil, the days when banks could grow fat on government paper are almost over. New business lines, consolidation and retrenchment are high on the agenda and there are persistent rumours that Citibank will beef up its presence in Latin America's biggest economy.

Go to full results

BRAZIL HAS SOME of the most profitable banks in the world. Returns on equity regularly exceed 40%, and institutions such as Banco Itaú are often held up as models of professionalism and excellence.

As Brazil struggles out of its latest economic crisis, however, its banking system will have to change radically, and start making money in areas it has long neglected. What's more, the biggest player in international banking, Citibank, could make its long-awaited move into the country at any time. The future for Brazilian banks is not going to be easy.

If any country's banking system has shown itself capable of withstanding enormous shocks and changes, of course, it is Brazil's. The crises of 1999 and 2002 were only the most recent in a series of economic convulsions: you have to go back to the 1970s before you can find three consecutive years when GDP growth reached 3%.

Most of Brazil's banks date back to the days of hyperinflation, with its attendant sky-high real interest rates. Back then, the efficient movement of money was of paramount importance. If your money can lose most of its value in a couple of days, it's crucial that you can get it to a bank quickly and that the bank can immediately transfer it to where you want it to go.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree