Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers
For Sale

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thoughts from the Veranda

DSC_4540 Today I feel like pulling my thinning hair out.  I was trying to work via remote server in Oslo and today they seem to be down.  So I have taken my coffee and my computer out on the veranda to relax for a bit, to let my heart rate slow, to calm my stomach, to think about things.
I will start with a recap of the ---- lets just do two weeks otherwise this could take forever.  That time frame will bring us back from our Italian Profunda trip and take us to Macae for the Project Meetings.  And finally it will bring us back to Nova Friburgo.
About six months ago…. no I wont go back that far but you need this information …. about 6 months ago the Unibanco Banks was bought by Itau bank system.  My statements and online banking still look the same – Unibanco - but MY Debit CARD(s), how I access my Money have been canceled without first issuing new ones.  We came back from Italy and had to go immediately to Macae, and had no time to resolve this little problem. 
Once back in Friburgo, we make plans to go into to town and to stand in line – because at Itau you always have to stand in line …. Long Lines that wind along – through yellow dotted lanes from one side of the lobby to the other – winding back and forth, back and forth. 
So off to town we go – I blew dry my hair and put on makeup to look good for the new manager I would meet,  It is the week right before elections and the town is a madhouse.  It is the week that we have to pay the gardener and the woman that keeps our house so clean…. To pay the ones that need their pay just to live, the ones who need their pay in cash, the one that have no bank accounts because bank accounts are so @$&# expensive.  What do we find … THE BANK WORKERS ARE ON STRIKE!  The strikers have all but the teller machines shut down.  We could only draw out 500.00 in cash because the machines are almost out of cash…. R$500 per day if you can find a machine that has cash. 
For us it is just an irritant, a mosquito bite that keeps itching.  We can go online and transfer to pay bills.  For the bills that you have to pay in the bank you will be given more time…. with late fees attached of course.  We can use our debit cards…. wait my debit card has been canceled and not replaced by Itau … Okay, not to panic we can still use our international cards to buy groceries if this stretches on for too long.
Now I am even more irritated because I now know that whenever we use our international bank card through CHASE at teller machines not in the states, we are charged a transaction fee, an international transaction fee for taking cash, and a misc fee like .09 or .10 cents…. for each purchase.  WHAT is that about?  Not flat rate fees either but a percentage of the cash withdrawal.  So why have an international card?  Oh, I forgot so that we can buy groceries when the local banks strike. 
So really I am really more than a little irritated.  Even with some sympathy with the workers, the non-inflated prices…. the government swears there is no inflation here …. the non-inflated prices have gone so high that Brasil is now one of the most expensive places to live IN THE WORLD.  I am in sympathy with the workers, I really am.  But this is likely to go on for a while, the raise offer by the the National Bank Federation of 4.3 “inflation rate” was rejected, the bank workers’ union wants 11% plus additional benefits.  I am in sympathy but wait…. their pay increase will be passed down to me by way of higher fees – increasing my expenses … making it necessary for the workers union that I belong to, to ask for more money for me…. which causes the company I work for to raise their prices …. so that…..  
Is that the definition of inflation? Check out this link for a better understanding of what inflation really is.  According to this definition the increase in prices without an increase in efficiency (reduction of long lines?) is a good thing and is anti-inflationary in its self.  Did I understand that correctly?  Probably not – Macro economics was one of the 3 Cs I received at University – (macro economics / statistics / college algebra) it is just beyond my comprehension of how all the components fit together.  But I do understand that I can’t use my money that is in the bank to pay those that need their cash pay every month …. this small fact I can understand.


  1. Wow Ginger it is a good thing you have beautiful flowers and gorgeous sights around, that banking situation sounds horrible. I guess the entire world is having financial problems with banks and any financial institution. HH does not believe in banks. We have one account for our household and that is all. He is old fashioned and sometimes I think he has got it right.

  2. Banks have their place, We have an unusual situation of having banks in both the USA and in Brasil. I don't see how we could live in one country and earn in another without using banks. In this case the problem is more the unions. Which in their time have done a lot of good in fighting exploitation of workers but are now maybe getting to be too strong just as they did in the USA - hurting more than helping. AND possibly we could have had a warning about the strikes if more in tune with the local situations. I think for me the greatest problem is that in order to make the bank workers pay scale a bit higher they are really hurting those on a lower pay level than themselves. If I were the local government I would be also be concered about local business - a lot of stores were closed yesterday and many more empty. cashflow being severly limited, and people not spending.

  3. Interesting. We noticed the Strike signs over the weekend, but are not out and about enough to have noticed much else. Perhaps the impact in a very urban area isn't as bad as in the more rural regions.

    I do hear you on the frustration of banking across 2 countries, though. And banking here in general. Very frustrating, for sure. I hope things get sorted out soon.

  4. I feel ya. A couple things:

    Take Camillo with you to the bank so you can get in the seniors' line. ;-)

    I've often thought a clever entrepreneur should sit outside the bank and offer to call you when your senha is almost ready to be called. You could go in, take a number, then go back outside and give the number and your cell number to the guy - then go run more errands. When your number is almost up he calls you and you return to the bank in time to step up to the counter. I'd pay R$2 for that. ANYTHING to make the wait less frustrating.

    I think it is strange that there is practically NOTHING on the news about the strike. At least I have not seen anything.

    We have a Credit Union account in the States and thefees are minimal. When you go back next time perhaps open a new account for just these purposes.

  5. JIM, when not just popping in to get cash I do take Camillo with me, but never get in the 'idosos' line - my G.. they are sooo slow. We never use that line at the grocery either - unless empty when we are ready to buy. Maybe that is a full post, cause is certainly is a new experience.

    Found the link I posted on Routers about the strike - hopefully it is correct information. But local new nada. overshodowed by the election which means the union miscalculated. I thought doing this on the first was clever though.