Category Archives: finanças

Sustainable economy and lifestyle

The phrase is difficult, but everyone’s talking about the concept of sustainable economy: to preserve is to take care of something. You might want to preserve your kids from frenetic scrolling. Maybe you think they’re supposed to play board games. From a different perspective, sometimes you find yourself in the supermarket. You don’t have children, so you observe this little guy asking for chocolate. The mother explains: “no, we’re taking your cereal, which already has chocolate in it, so that’s it.” And of course we all love chocolate. But will everyone start going to Google to see who the main producers are? Maybe someone wants to find the place of manufacture and investigate working conditions. That’s what they did with Mondeléz.

For a company who has around 29 billion dollars in revenue every year, the stakes are high; but besides the African story linked above, they’ve suffered a loss with the Ukrainian conflict. It seems they have plenty to worry about: reports of working conditions have led to unionizing in the US, and the response from the company was to fire the organizer — which was reported by Reuters as illegal. Just when you thought you knew enough about cookies. I don’t know about you, but I think 30B is a lot of money for snacks.

Mondeléz is most famous in Brazil as the maker of cookies like Trakinas.

The mother in the supermarket wouldn’t teach her son or daughter about the economy, but maybe later in school, they’d have to look at sustainability in the environment. They’d have to analyze a global picture, and maybe names like Greta Thunberg would come up in the debate. A social media icon with appearances on television and many events devoted to climate change debate, she’s gained popularity — and so has the cause. A sustainable economy, however, will drive the conversation back to how dependent we are on fossil fuel.

You can pick any topic: crypto, fintech, phone manufacturing, programming languages, remote learning, dating apps, AI. All of these things seem very up-to-date, but maybe they don’t reflect our reality. Brazilians need to learn how to discuss a new economy. First, it seems logical, they would need to learn about the global economy; then, look at strengths and weaknesses, and follow their passion. That can be a beautiful story, and maybe that’s how Facebook came to life, with Eduardo Saverin as co-founder.

It seems we need to be looking at the future with less distractions and a more sharp focus. Even if that means a drop in our quality of life, we’re going for bigger issues. People talk about freedom of speech, but look at what these kids in Ghana do for a living. Shouldn’t it concern us, as human beings who love comfort and safety? We can talk about sustainable economy, sure. But if economic models include exploitative conditions, we should prepare for a fight. And a lot of people are looking at tech this way.

But it’s not just the tech. This blog has talked about the frustrations of being an English teacher in a country where 5% are fluent. If Brazil wants to present solutions to the world, it’s not just a biodiversity question, or solar energy; in terms of culture, the language alone plays an immense role. Our music, literature and urban language have peculiar characteristics that people need to know about. And so everyone thinks about tourism. I’d love to talk about my latest trip to cities nobody’s heard about, like Brno in the Czech Republic, Wrexham in Wales, Lelystad in the Netherlands or Bethel Park in the United States. I can’t. Can you guess why? Because my lifestyle is not sustainable.

Maybe we should think about what’s compatible, instead of sustainable. The lemonade thing. Squeeze me and I’ll say good things about my country. I do have an interest in finance, but not to the point where I can’t miss a fresh analysis of whatever the basis points mean. The idea of investment is more related to my time than my money, for very obvious reasons. And so we should all normalize that: stop thinking everything’s a big deal. In the end, you got bills to pay, and you feel a certain way.

But when we’re thinking about the context of work, I’ll give you my version: I’m currently not on Facebook. I do use Instagram, and also WhatsApp; just not the blue thing where my family posts regularly. I’ve decided not to participate in the family group on WhatsApp — I thought that was the ultimate, most blatant invasion of my privacy. And so I’m looking for alternatives. When there’s nothing else to eat but chicken, I like to make some risotto with vegetables I can find. I always put too much salt, and feel like a useless human being. Then I remember I can just buy some cookies.

The problem is that I buy cookies with change. I’m unemployed right now, just posting blogs because I want to reach people — so badly. But my reality is: this company makes 30 billion dollars selling cookies. I collect coins to buy a pack, the cheapest one, for 2 real. Not two billion, obviously, not two million, not two thousand. 2 real. Cents that circulate among beggars in the street, addicts and so on. Just to remind you, 30 billion dollars is 150 billion real as of December 2022. And isn’t it crazy how these numbers are always changing?

I think I’ve focused so much on this task of educating people with media that I sort of became an edible chocolate bar. Not healthy, doesn’t actually feed you, but feels so good to get out of your routine. Unless you think this is all crap. Maybe I should stop talking about rich people. But you see: we’re supposed to care about how sustainable the economy is… for whom? We’re supposed to take care of ourselves! And the tech issues I mentioned are just an example. Think about relationships. Trust, affection, true love, care, bonding, getting to know each other, small acts of kindness. Then you have distrust, talking behind one’s back, lying, cheating, abuse, aggressiveness, games. Cookies aren’t gonna help. Your relationships should be sustainable, healthy, beneficial. And then I think to myself that it’s nice to eat at a restaurant with your significant other.

Cost of living? Food prices? Let’s take a look at how much Brazilians spend.

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When I look back at the things I wrote down in my teens, using the internet for the first time, I always remember this message posted on my girlfriend’s page, where I said “I love you more than Del Valle juice”. For those not acquainted, of course fruits are a big market in Brazil, having registered a profit of nearly a billion real in 2020. Some people buy them at the supermarket, others in open fairs; but it’s part of our culture and something we learned from our grandparents. My grandpa, at some point, preferred the powdered juice, because it was more practical and also cheap. Since we didn’t buy any fancy brands, it was literally 1 real to make a whole jar for everyone to drink at lunch. 30 real a month. Add that up.

Of course, for lunch, we never had too much variety, but it was mostly things my grandma cooked easily and for years on. I never really liked the chayote, but we ate that a lot with ground meat. Eggplants too, the same way. Then my grandpa cooked manioc, sweet potatoes and the regular, big ones. Carrots were for the salad, with lettuce and sometimes arugula. Vegetables like pods and peas, pumpkins and zucchini, were always brought home and prepared with some olive oil and maybe things like parsley to make it more interesting, along with onions and garlic. Rice and beans, of course, are essentials of Brazilian cuisine, and sausage to cook with the beans. There’s also things like salt and sugar that eventually you have to buy. They liked to eat meat that wasn’t too expensive (depending on the cut), and also fish sometimes. Maybe one day my dad would make some pancakes (the one he used to make with shrimp, along with his eggplant recipe with tomatoes, pepper and other vegetables, actually made us avoid many fights at home). Sometimes we’d do something with cabbage and cauliflower. We ate bread for breakfast, sometimes with some kind of dairy product or ham, but mostly not even butter, choosing margarine instead; then again in the evening. And today, I’ll tell you all that has been reduced to a minimum. For example, we drink water for lunch. There’s also pasta, which saves us every time. No dairy, just margarine. How much would that cost, at the end of the month?

There’s a big supermarket chain that is run by one the the billionaires in Brazil, Abílio Diniz. His business is so successful he was invited to host a program on CNN Brasil to talk about how he sees the future of the economy. I’ll use Carrefour, his business, to make a list of all the things I’ve mentioned (and of course there are more, some months less; but I wanna make this interesting. Father asks the son: “would you go downstairs and buy some stuff to bring home?” — and then hands out a list. Maybe, since we’re all doing it, you’d buy it all online and pay some tax for delivery. I’d skip the sections where these product are, cause we all figure that out eventually, don’t we? But it’ll be interesting if you can visualize yourself in the supermarket.

FOR VEGETABLES
chayote – R$12.79 (3kg)
eggplants – R$16.38 (2kg)
manioc – R$15,98 (2 vacuum packs of 700g)
sweet potatoes – R$12.87 (3kg)
potatoes – R$17.97 (3kg)
arugula – R$7.99 (pack)
tomatoes – R$25.18 (2kg)
pods – R$8.39 (400g)
peas – R$14.36 (4 cans)
pumpkins – R$9.42 (whole)
zucchini – R$9.78 (2kg)
pepper – R$20.89 (1kg)
cabbage – R$9.78 (2 packs)
cauliflower – R$11.39 (1 pack)

FOR SPICES AND CONDIMENTS
olive oil – R$17.69 (1 liter bottle)
parsley – R$3.19 (pack)
onions – R$19.98 (2kg)
garlic – R$11.79 (600g)
salt – R$1.87 (1kg)
sugar – R$5.99 (1kg)

FOR MEAT
shrimp – R$49.38 (400g)
meat – R$50.49 (1kg rump steak beef)
sausage – R$23.89 (1kg)
fish – R$77.29 (1kg)
ham – R$12.58 (400g)
ground meat – R$41.69 (1kg)

FOR DAIRY
margarine – R$19.18 (2 packs of 500g)

FOR GRAINS
rice – R$17.39 (5kg)
beans – R$12.78 (2 packs of 500g)
flour – R$4.39 (1kg)
bread – R$381.60 (6 units, morning and night, 30 days)
pasta – R$16.36 (4 units of 500g)

OTHERS
powdered juice – R$30 (30 units)

Okay, that’s a lot.

Now, I assume that you’d be taking out some of that stuff. But a few things pop my eyes out: the price of pepper, for example. It’s a strong spice, for sure, and you won’t always use it, but it really doesn’t have to be that expensive, I think. Of course we live in Brazil, not in Mexico, so maybe that applies. Also, what everyone’s been talking about: the price of meat. There are families who eat meat every day: rice, beans and beef, maybe with an egg (I didn’t include that on the list because you don’t go to the supermarket for that, I think you might get it in one of the cars that passes by your street — or not). Meat got very expensive, and I chose a cut that’s cheaper than most. It also surprises me that even for the standards we have today (where a lot of these items would never be included on the list, especially freaking shrimp, or fish), we do eat 12 units of bread every day, sometimes less when I’m not hungry, in particular (my sleep patterns are horrible); still, that’s a lot of money. What you need to know, before I give you the actual total of this monthly purchase, is that we get rice, beans and a few other condiments from a “basic needs basket” that comes in a carton box every month from my aunt. Some social assistance institutions and NGOs provide that for families. But we still have to buy the bread and other stuff. And there you go: just the bread is expensive enough to make us, living with R$600 a month from the government’s social program, have to cut expenses to the maximum. Of course you remember that we have other bills to pay, right? I honestly don’t know what my dad is doing.

Total amount (for a Brazilian lower lower-class family): R$968.13.

Add to that an internet combo of TV, landline and internet, which goes for R$94.99 with the ISP Vivo; add to that a R$200 electricity bill; add to that a R$150 water bill; also add the condominium, which averages R$200, sometimes more.

The actual total expenses for the Brazilian lower class family is around R$1613.12. That’s 300 dollars.

Before people started talking about inflation, minimum wage in Brazil was R$1100. The increase did not adjust to inflation, but as the story from Brasil de Fato points out, the adjusted value is a little over two hundred dollars.

I could talk about how some people loved to watch Anthony Bourdain. I’d say how some people adapt, being vegans. Or maybe I would finish with a strong paragraph, and quote some marxist theory, because Brazil is, after all, among the world leaders in food production, and we should own what we produce. I could say that Class E, the lowest in Brazil, makes from zero to R$1429, while adding class D would make about half of the Brazilian population. But instead, I have a genuinely blunt question: isn’t it time for us to think about what’s the real concern for Wall Street? Because I don’t think a trader would be happy with 300 dollars a month.

Já ouviu falar que músico é puta? Então. É pior.

O aplicativo do Spotify, segundo o Google Play, conta com mais de 1 bilhão de downloads. Vamos lembrar que existe o iOS, e claro, muitos não pagam pela assinatura. Mas os que pagam mantém a empresa — que não é nenhuma fundação para o bem da humanidade, mas está muito interessada na grana, que é utilizada para prover um serviço de qualidade que vem de outras pessoas: os músicos e musicistas. Existem registros de que o fluxo de caixa da empresa entre 2017 e 2021 foi de aproximadamente $884M, ou mais de R$4.6 bilhões. Será que isso corresponde a toda a indústria musical?

Existem muitos acordos e processos por trás desse fluxo de caixa. Veja: falo como um artista que tem uma conta no SoundCloud há mais de uma década e nunca fez um centavo na plataforma; minhas visualizações para uma gravação semi-profissional chegaram a pouco mais de 200 plays, mas não foi muito por minha conta — meu colega colocou o link nas highlighted stories, e daí alguma coisa aconteceu. Mas um clique custa caro. O Bandcamp se diz uma plataforma para o músico independente. Tenho um catálogo com quase 20 músicas, e fiz o total de 4 dólares (mas 30% fica com eles). Já o Spotify apenas permite que o seu trabalho seja postado uma vez cumpridas uma série de exigências para o mercado da música, envolvendo registro, tipos de arquivo e especificações, dados e tudo mais. Isso faz com que os músicos procurem distribuidoras, e algumas fazem o serviço gratuitamente, caso da ONErpm. Uma vez lançada a música, você deveria ter a possibilidade de fazer um perfil de artista, correto? Não é o que aconteceu comigo, no caso tanto do Spotify, quanto do Deezer e também do YouTube. Nessa última situação, tive que pedir permissão da empresa para corrigir o problema, sendo que a própria plataforma da distribuidora não permitia o upload e foi o suporte, sem contar que era um representante do Brasil e não internacional, que fez o processo. No fim, sou conhecido como “Vários Artistas”, por uma mera questão de educação.

E quanto o artista (ou os vários artistas, se quiserem seguir este belo manual de merda) ganharia quando alguém clica para ouvir sua música? O que dizem por aí é que cada stream equivale a $0.003, ou 1 centavo. Sim, um centavo, e mais uma moeda de um centavo suja de cocô, falsificada e partida no meio. Agora deixa eu contar a parte engraçada pra vocês. Um belo dia, conheci o tio da minha namorada, que todo mundo falava que tocava violão como ninguém. Era todo um mito, porque estávamos todos começando na música, perto dos 16 anos. Não me lembro quando foi que o conheci, senhor João Nelson. Eu mostrei a ele uma música que gostava muito na época, “No pain for the dead”, do Angra (banda nacional), que tinha uma introdução legal no violão. E por aí acho que dá pra prever que o ano era 2005. Mas ele tocou uma outra música, ou improvisou baseado no que ouviu, e eu me lembro da firmeza dos dedos do cara. Da sonoridade limpa e nítida de todas as notas, da tal da pegada. Ele disse, pouco depois, como se contasse um segredo ou desabafasse sobre a vida inteira: “músico é puta”. E todo mundo deu risada. Muito bem. Diz a lenda que o cara tocou com o Roberto Carlos. Sabe quanto que ganha a modelo de webcam, por token (o que não equivale ao stream, mas ao pagamento mínimo para quem se exibe)? $0.11 ou 58 centavos. Traduzindo, as putas ganham 58 vezes mais do que os músicos. Evito aqui fazer comentários sobre o sucesso de qualquer artista que seja. Tire suas próprias conclusões.