Brazil: Heist Fever

Business is booming at banks

Inflation, devaluation and near economic collapse have reduced the buying power of Brazil's cruzeiro by 26.4% over the past six months. But in Sāo Paulo (pop. 12 million), the country's financial capital, the currency has gained in popularity with a certain class of entrepreneurs: stickup men, who are carrying cruzeiros away in record amounts. Bank offices in Sāo Paulo have been held up more than 700 times so far this year, nearly double the 1982 pace. Though bankers are reluctant to disclose their losses, one government estimate puts the 1983 haul at about $6 million.

The epidemic...

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