Environmental problems often seem to have simple causes. For example, why is the rainforest in Brazil being cut down? When this problem came to the world's attention in the 1980s, blame was ascribed to the timber trade and the “burger connection.” Cattle barons who cleared land to raise livestock for beef exports were the culprits. But this is by no means the whole story.
Brazil did not have an effective policy to define and manage property rights. Traditionally, acquiring title to land in remote areas was a matter of clearing a piece of forest and occupying it. Once the Amazon was opened up to colonization, land quickly became an open-access resource. Those who arrived simply exploited the forests and land, often paying little or nothing for it.
In addition, Brazil has a long history of hyperinflation. One of the few safe places to put money has been land, which was more