Caixa Econômica Federal (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈkajʃɐ ekoˈnõmikɐ fedeˈɾaw], Federal Savings Bank), also referred to as Caixa or CEF, is a Brazilian bank. It is the largest government-owned financial institution in Latin America. It is one of the largest banks in Brazil and in Latin America by assets.
Financial and Institutional Information
The bank was founded by Emperor D. Pedro II on January 12, 1861 as Caixa Econômica e Monte de Socorro in Rio de Janeiro as a financial institution destined to collect national savings, mostly from the poor. Over the years, several similar institutions were created until most of them were merged into present-day "" in 1967.
The 1970s were particularly lucrative for the bank, mostly due to its near-monopoly on savings for the poor and lower-middle classes, the management of Brazilian state (federal) lotteries and being the only lawful pawn broker in Brazil. In the 1990s, however, the scenario changed and the bank underwent a serious downsizing, when thousands of employees lost their jobs.
Part of the problem was caused by the modernization of the Brazilian banking system in the 1980s, with many other banks introducing savings accounts to their portfolios, Brazilian states being granted rights to explore lotteries (alongside the federal government), a series of corruption scandals regarding lottery fraud, and the opening of the national market for foreign banks. The control of inflation also hampered Caixa's financial performance by making savings accounts less attractive.
Nowadays, Caixa is the second biggest Brazilian bank and is present in thousands of Brazilian towns (ranked the third financial institution in Brazil in number of branches). Caixa has more than 32 million accounts, with liabilities worth more than R$ 148 billion in savings or investment. Together with government pension funds and other governmental resources, Caixa controls more than R$ 386 billion (roughly about US$ 200bn). Caixa is seen as a tool for public investment and expansion of access to financial services to the Brazilian public.
Caixa is still the manager of most Brazilian lotteries, especially the most popular ones, such as Mega-Sena, Quina and Loteca (former Loteria Esportiva). The profits of Brazilian state (federal) lotteries are reverted to amateur sport promotion and elementary education.
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