SAO PAULO (AP) -- To understand why people are so cautious with their money five years after the financial crisis, The Associated Press interviewed consumers around the world. Here is what one person said:
Name: Paulo Sergio
Home: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Job: Medical equipment salesman
Sergio is typical of many middle-class Brazilians. He's heavily in debt and uneasy about the future of the country's once-booming economy. His views, in his own words:
"Five years ago, I was doing great. The economy was booming, and I was selling a lot. I was confident enough to borrow money to buy my house and a car.
"But then profit margins (in my business) started to drop, and today they are at least 30 percent less than they were five years ago.
"I am heavily in debt — mostly mortgage and car payments. I would say that about 70 percent of my monthly earnings go to pay off my debts and to make alimony payments to my ex-wife. Luckily we have no children. I don't know what I would do if we had children. I would not be able to pay for decent schooling and medical care for them.
"I have money invested in private pension funds and in low-risk stocks. I used to have a savings account, but I closed it a few years ago because of very low interest rates.
"Luckily I earn enough to pay my debts, the maintenance fees of my apartment, go shopping, eat out, go to the movies and theater and travel in and outside Brazil. I don't know how long this is going to last.
"The economy is stagnated, inflation is rising, our currency is being devalued, and sales have dropped. I do not see things getting better in the near future. There is too much uncertainty in the air.
"Other than leaving my money where it is, work harder to earn more and pray for the best, I don't see much else I could do."
- Budget, Tax & Economy