Adventures of a foreigner in the south of Brazil.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

German constitutional court declares trust in integrity of information systems a fundamental right

Today the German constitutional court has declared trust in integrity of information systems a fundamental right. Thereby blocking the German government that got more greedy and voyeuristic by the day, surpassing Orwell's wildest nightmares. In doing so they created a new fundamental right, far more extensive than 25 years ago, when they did so for the last time. Again, the constitutional court remains about the only public institution I feel inclined to trust. The history of the constitutional court is a history of limiting the power of government and strengthening individual rights. It has also been the only official body that has ever driven family politics, by forcing the government through constitutional considerations and legal decisions.

This is a fundamental decision of historic dimension.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

How not to bring money into Brazil

In two words: bank transfer. There is, on the international side, Moneybookers, which is a very reasonable option. On the other side there are Brazilian banks that engage in daylight robbery.

I recently tried a transfer of 400EUR to Brazil with Moneybookers. The exchange rate on the stock exchanges for EUR/BRL was 2,59 on the day of the deposit.

With a (big) Brazilian bank involved the calculation looks like this:

  • First you get cheated on the exchange rate: 2,49 instead of 2,59 (3,9% charge)
  • Second, there is a charge for an incoming international transfer of 105 BRL.
  • Third, there is yet another fee of 3,79 BRL for the currency exchange, on top of the exchange rate cheat.
  • Moneybookers fee 3,50 EUR. This is the only reasonable part of this affair.
In addition to that I have to physically sign and deposit a document confirming I'm not up to anything illegal with the dosh.

That means from EUR 400 I end up with BRL 887,89, which is an effective exchange rate of 2,22 or a 15,6% charge on the Brazilian side alone.

If, conversely, I pull the money out of an ATM I get the market rate plus a 1,5% charge on the European side (a tad more than Moneybookers), saving roughly 14% on the transfer. Given that document I have to bring to the bank after a transfer there is not even more legwork for getting the money into the account.

So ATMs it is from now on, and I have to say that for a genuinely modern banking system like the Brazilian one this kind of barriers for international operations is stick-in-the-mud, backwards and ridiculous.