Brazil is no stranger to economic crises. In the 1970s and '80s, Latin America's economic giant turned financial mismanagement into an art form. The current global turmoil has not left Brazil unscathed: stock prices, exports and growth are all down. But something interesting is at work this time around, and the best place to see it is in one of Brazil's favelas, the vast urban slums that are desperate even in the best of times. Walk through São Paulo's sprawling Brasilândia, though, and you don't sense the relentless doom and gloom gripping other cities in the world. Take Efigênia Francisca da Silva, who exudes middle-class expectations and remains positive despite the tsunami of bad news. Thanks to a government scheme to encourage entrepreneurs, the once dirt-poor housewife has received some $8,000 in low-interest bank credits in recent years and now owns three shops that sell everything from shampoo to public-transit tickets. "I didn't have a bank account before," says Da Silva, 37, standing beneath graffiti-covered walls and pirated power lines. "I never had a car. I bought a Fiat Palio." Does she fear the global recession will quash her dreams? "I trust Lula. I don't think we'll be hit that hard."