February 13, 2008 2:44 PM

Banking, consumer-credit boom transforms Brazil

Financial tools that Americans take for granted, such as credit cards and affordable bank loans, seemed like science fiction in this 184 million-person country, where annual interest rates regularly soar into the triple digits. Yet as Brazil enjoys a rare spell of sustained economic growth, millions of people are fueling an explosion in consumer credit and banking services that's transforming the world's 10th biggest economy.

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