Profile: Sergio of Brazil pessimistic as pay falls

Profile: Paulo Sergio of Brazil struggles with big debt, worries the economy has "stagnated"

Associated Press
Profile: Sergio of Brazil pessimistic as pay falls

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FILE - In this Thursday, June 20, 2013, file photo, demonstrators wave their country's national flag to celebrate the reversal of a fare hike on public transportation, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Paulo Sergio, 41, from Sao Paulo, is struggling with debt and believes the Brazilian economy is stagnated and is pessimistic given that inflation is rising and pay falling. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine, File)

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

Age: 41

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."

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