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When Brazilian bank holidays meet financial regulation

What gated communities can teach us about gaming the system.

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Brazil had three long holiday weekends in a row in April. The middle one found me with my family 75 kilometres outside São Paulo, spending a couple of nights at a house in an exclusive gated community. 

One half of the couple who rent the house is a senior private banker but – before there is any cry of corruption ahead of this year’s Awards for excellence decisions – my invitation had come by the way of his wife to mine: they have been friends since childhood, growing up in the same small town in the interior of the state. 

The complex is impressive. We passed through two large guarded gates to get to the house. Security was tight – or the administration was loose with the paperwork – either way the banker had to drive down to the first gate and vouch for us. We followed him through the complex – large houses sprawled lazily over the hills. All seemed to have a pool and a view to the impressively mountainous horizon. 

Many of the houses had football courts and pretty much all had shiny expensive cars parked on expansive driveways (the rest were empty this weekend).

In short, it was a lovely place and we had a very nice weekend. Tennis was played, BBQ was eaten. The wine and cheese were excellent. And the dark and silence provided sleep that São Paulo just can’t manage – and that was despite sharing our room with a six-month-old baby in a travel cot. 

Increasingly complex financial systems need correspondingly complex rules. Because any grey areas or loopholes will be exploited

The sheer size of the place – the expanse of land – made it very easy to forget that the sense of security (no need to lock the car) and relaxation was created by deliberate and serious measures, and wasn’t just a rural throwback to simpler, happy times.

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