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Here’s a tiny little window into Brazil thanks to our friends at Itau.

Like Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg, Brazil’s largest private bank did a statistical analysis of who will win the World Cup. Unlike Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg, they refused to reveal the results of their statistical analysis, which is hilarious given that they sent it to every journalist in the country.

Why the reticence?

Is it a lack of transparency and accountability? Very possibly. The bank is notorious for treating clients poorly (as I blogged about here), going as far as making it impossible to call branches to talk to account managers or staff.

Lack of confidence in their results? Unlikely. Their partial predictions (why reveal half your results?) were hardly controversial. They boldly predicted the semi-finals will feature Spain, Germany, Brazil and Argentina.

A desire not to offend? Most likely. In bars and in foreign policy and in everything in between, Brazilians are averse to giving strong opinions with strangers lest they hurt someone’s feeling.

My prediction? Like Goldman and Bloomberg, I go for Brazil. But it’s a funny old game. Anything can happen. Roll on June 12.



I usually use this blog to plug my own stories but I am making an exception today for this brilliant piece of reporting about how rich Brazilians are destroying the environment to build themselves palatial homes.

Some of the most powerful and influential people in Brazil, film maker Bruno Barreto and the Marinho family that run the Globo media empire among them, have consistently flouted the law by cutting down forests, diverting streams, and disturbing rare habitats.

All so they can have nice houses.

The Bloomberg story says:

“All Brazilian beaches are public by law. Wealthy Brazilians do whatever they want on land that often doesn’t belong to them, says Eduardo Godoy of the Paraty office of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, which manages federally protected areas.

“They think they are the only ones who deserve to enjoy a piece of paradise because they are rich,” Godoy says. “They say they are the owners of the island or the beach, and everybody believes them. But that’s not what the law says.”

When prosecutors and environmental police go after them (and usually win), the millionaires appeal the decisions in court, knowing that such actions can take years to be resolved. They ignore the original rulings and stay put while their lawyers buy them time to enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

Read the whole story here. It’s worth it.


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