Get-rich-quick culture taking over Brazil

. May 10, 2019

After suffering its worst recession on record, Brazil is also undergoing its worst post-recession recovery. Growth estimations for 2019 are being reduced week-on-week and if it keeps up its current pace, Brazil will only return to pre-recession levels by the third quarter of 2023. This economic scenario automatically has a knock-on effect on the personal finances of the Brazilian population. Unemployment and underemployment are high, and even those in work are seeking ways to boost their income.

While many are taking on extra jobs—services apps such as Uber, iFood and Rappi have become the “biggest employer” in the country, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)—others are scrambling for “get-rich-quick” solutions, which has boosted this niche in the publishing and digital content sectors.

</p> <p>The trend came to the forefront of the Brazilian news in March, with the scandal surrounding a series of advertising campaigns from Empiricus Research. In one particular YouTube sting, the fresh-faced Empiricus employee Bettina Rudolph made the outlandish claim she had increased her net worth by over BRL 1 million in three years, using the advice her company offers.</p> <p>The mathematics behind her boasts were soon dismantled, and Empiricus was <a href="">placed under investigation</a> by Brazil&#8217;s Securities Commission (CVM) for alleged misleading advertising.</p> <p>However, the Bettina case is just the tip of the iceberg, with resources readily available throughout Brazil and online, promising ways for ordinary people to become rich, and fast.</p> <p>Among the most traditional media for get-rich-quick material is books. A cursory glance at the bestsellers lists of some of Brazil&#8217;s biggest online book stores throws up a number of titles promising personal enrichment.</p> <p>A number of famous international works on financial education and money-making strategy are pushing the top of the book charts, including Benjamin Graham&#8217;s 1949 value investing work &#8220;The Intelligent Investor&#8221; and T. Harv Eker&#8217;s &#8220;The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind&#8221; from 2005.</p> <p>However, there is also a new wave of young to middle-aged Brazilian authors promoting get-rich-quick strategies on the country&#8217;s bookshelves. The cover of Thiago Nigro&#8217;s &#8220;From a Thousand to a Million&#8221; (free translation) promises to show readers how to &#8220;spend well, invest better, earn more,&#8221; while Nathalia Arcuri&#8217;s &#8220;Spare Me!&#8221; offers a ten-step program to &#8220;never again leave you short of money in your pocket.&#8221;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image"><img src="" alt="get-rich-quick" class="wp-image-17250" srcset=" 806w, 300w, 768w, 610w" sizes="(max-width: 806px) 100vw, 806px" /><figcaption>Get-rich-quick: &#8220;From 1,000 to 1 million&#8221; is the second-best-selling book in Brazil, according to Amazon</figcaption></figure> <h2>YouTube takes the lead in financial advice</h2> <p>The examples of Mr. Nigro and Ms. Arcuri are particularly emblematic, as neither of them are authors by trade. In fact, both are part of a new generation of Brazilian internet mini-celebrities, who have made a name for themselves giving financial advice on YouTube.</p> <p>Nathalia Arcuri began her professional life as a journalist, working as a reporter on TV stations SBT and Record, specializing in financial education. In 2015, she quit her job to start <a href=""><em>Me Poupe!</em></a> (Spare Me!), her YouTube channel which later gave rise to her bestselling book. With almost 3.5 million subscribers, Ms. Arcuri posts daily videos with tips on improving personal finances, often with an irreverent and comical spin.</p> <p>Her most popular video, &#8220;My First Million: How I Became a Millionaire at 32,&#8221; opens with Ms. Arcuri dancing around her studio in a bathrobe, celebrating her new-found entry into the millionaires&#8217; club. With over 3.2 million views, the video then provides five &#8220;practical&#8221; tips for her followers to earn their own fortune.</p> <p>While much of her tips are largely hackneyed self-help tropes—one of Me Poupe!&#8217;s five pieces of advice to earn a million is simply: listen to advice—Ms. Arcuri also posts highly informative content to teach viewers how to invest in the stock market. In a country of relatively few retail investors, this kind of knowledge has been traditionally lacking in Brazil.</p> <p>Author of &#8220;From a Thousand to a Million,&#8221; Thiago Nigro is better known as <a href=""><em>O Primo Rico</em></a> (The Rich Cousin), the name of his own successful YouTube channel. Unlike Me Poupe!, Mr. Nigro&#8217;s approach is much drier and even confrontational, almost establishing an &#8220;us and them&#8221; dichotomy between wealthy people (whom he refers to as his &#8220;cousins&#8221;), and &#8220;poor people.&#8221;</p> <p>Among his most viewed videos are titles such as &#8220;5 Mistakes Poor People Make,&#8221; &#8220;8 Pieces of Advice Poor People Give You,&#8221; &#8220;7 Signs You Will Stay Poor Forever,&#8221; and the ranty &#8220;6 Attitudes of People Who Will Never Be Rich (And Will Definitely Stay Poor).&#8221;</p> <h2>Get-rich-quick trend makes it to the stock market</h2> <p>As mentioned earlier, Brazil is a country with few retail investors. While over half of the population of the United States has some money in the stock market, the number of Brazilians getting involved in buying and selling shares is minuscule by comparison.</p> <p><strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>&#8216;s Natalia Scalzaretto <a href="">explored the reasons</a> behind this in February of this year, with explanations ranging from Brazil&#8217;s traditionally unstable economy and a widespread lack of financial information.</p> <p>With regards to the latter, this may be changing. While books and YouTube channels often use wild and unreasonable claims to reel in readers and viewers, the trend towards readily available and accessible financial advice is emboldening Brazilians to look toward investing.</p> <p>The number of active investors on the São Paulo stock exchange is increasing rapidly, breaking the one million mark in April, after almost ten years floundering around 600,000.

Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall. Originally from Scotland, Euan Marshall is a journalist who ditched his kilt and bagpipes for a caipirinha and a football in 2011, when he traded Glasgow for São Paulo. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

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