People Got Paid Twice A Day

It was around 4 a.m. on a Tuesday night. I had been at the most exclusive disco in Rio De Janeiro. People Down was even more exclusive than the upstairs disco, People Up.

I had been dancing all night with friends on a short break from running a trading desk in New York. The air was as hot as the women.

But now it was time to go home and crash. I had to get some sleep so I could go to the disco again tomorrow night.

My six friends were busy figuring out the bill for a night of drinking. They were arguing over who had ordered what drinks. Who owed what?

It seemed to be taking a long time. I was getting bored listening to their argument over who owed what. I finally looked over the shoulder of the woman holding the bill.

“Is the total bill $15?”, I asked.

“Yes”, she replied.

I threw down the Brazilian equivalent of twenty dollars and said, “let’s get out of here.”

We went out side and I asked if people wanted to come back the following night. They all said yes. I then casually asked the woman next to me what she was doing today. She said she was going to work.

I audibly gasped. “What time do you have to go to work?”

“8:30 this morning”

This was my introduction to Brazil.

I later was able to visit many other places around Brazil and began scratching the surface of this amazing country.

The time of this story was the late 1980’s. there was hyperinflation. Over 1000% per year. Shops changed their prices twice a day. People got paid twice a day so they could shop at lunch time to save the higher prices they would pay on their way home.

The currency was all screwed up. You would get a bill with 100 printed on it. The next bill might have 10,000 on it. But they might be worth the same thing. They would keep the old bills in circulation but people would learn what the current value was.

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Brazil has come a long way from that economic disaster.

Many people believe that it has become a world power. The old saying about Brazil was that it was the country of the future and always would be. They say the future has arrived.

The rise of the socialist Lulu to power and the economic boom that ensued is shown as proof that socialism, or at least social justice, can lead to economic wealth. Lulu’s successor, the ex-left wing terrorist Roussef, rode to victory on the back of a global wave of adulation.

It was all a sham. There is no great wave of wealth. The social justice model was fake.

You see, it was all built on debt and feeding China with raw materials.

 

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3 Responses to People Got Paid Twice A Day

  1. Penelope says:

    So what do you think will happen to the US when our dollar crashes? Do you think we’ll have two “paydays” also? Will we go back to a gold-backed currency?

  2. Hello Courtney,

    I’m Brazilian-American. The hyperinflation was controlled with the “Plano Real” during Itamar Franco’s presidency, but the man responsible was his Economic Minister, Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
    Subsequently FHC was elected president and he continued with the reforms including privatizing many state companies. He was a left wing professor in theory, but his policies tended to follow Clinton’s .

    Maybe because of his tendencies he helped Lula get elected, if not actively at least passively. Lula was called to the palace and promised to maintain in place certain policies that would uphold the currency, but he grew the government exponentially again. He even went so far as to disregard measures like giving “BOLSA FAMILIA” only to families that would prove they were sending their children to school.
    In a country so poor in education for the lower classes that was a shot in the foot.

    I was sad when Lula was elected, but maybe there are other intangibles like people feeling vindicated that a drop out from primary school could get so high. Besides the left wings believed so firmly that all we needed to solve Brazilian’s problems was to have a socialist government, that maybe Lula and Dilma were crucial to lay to rest that myth.

    Now I’m waiting for some sense to get back into politics in Brazil, more FHCs and less LULAs. Many people believe that after all we went through this is a likely scenario, at least I hope so. Still, Brazilian economy is vibrant and cannot be easily disregarded.
    Thank you,

  3. Jim Platts says:

    Hi Courtney

    I enjoyed your letter about Brazil especially your night in Rio. However I take issue with your over simplistic comment that Brazil’s economy is built on a myth of selling commodities to China. I’m sure you have flown on Embraer planes since they are made by the 3rd largest (Brazilian) airline company. I’m sure you have bought clothes made in Brazil, drank OJ from Brazil since most of it in the US comes from Brazil. Have you drunk Açai juice which is healthier than blueberries which comes from the Amazon? A cofounder of Facebook was Brazilian and Mark Zucherberg maneuvered him out of the business. Brazil’s economy is complex and more diversified than you implied. I spent 3 years in Brazil and am married to a Brazilian and we watch the Brazilian news every night so we know what is going on there. There are definite problems but the country needs a socialistic approach to raise the level of the poor people. And the USA is headed toward needing the same with its increased poverty. Time for another visit to this amazing country.

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