'Scissorhands' Levy, Brazil's new finance minister

GMT 02:46 2014 Friday ,28 November

Arab Today, arab today 'Scissorhands' Levy, Brazil's new finance minister

The new Finance Minister Joaquim Levy
Brasília - AFP

Joaquim Levy, Brazil's new finance minister, is an economist and banking executive widely seen as pro-market, hawkish and orthodox, earning him the nickname "Scissorhands" for his steely budgetary management.
That is just the profile that leftist President Dilma Rousseff needs as she seeks to address her deep unpopularity in the business sector and return the world's seventh-largest economy to growth.
Levy, currently the chief executive officer of Bradesco Asset Management (Bram), part of Brazil's second-largest private bank, served as treasury secretary under Rousseff's predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, helping the union leader-turned-president establish his market credentials.
He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago and had early stints with the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank before becoming chief economist at the ministry of planning, then joining Lula's treasury team.
He left to join Bram in 2010, taking over management and strategy to oversee investment funds.
Born in 1961 in Rio de Janeiro, Levy trained as a naval engineer before earning his PhD in 1992.
He served as deputy secretary of economic policy at the finance ministry in 2000, and thereafter as chief economist at the planning ministry, as well as vice president of finance and administration at the Inter-American Development Bank.
He also served as Rio state secretary of finance, then joined Bradesco in 2010.
He came late to the race for finance minister, notably after Bradesco colleague Luiz Carlos Trabuco reportedly rejected Rousseff's advances.
But he is highly respected among economists and analysts for his work in stabilizing Brazil's economy, notably by keeping a lid on spending and modernizing debt structures.
Those efforts as treasury chief under Lula helped Brazil win investment-grade credit ratings as the economy embarked on a period of strong growth which has been absent since Rousseff took office in early 2011.
"He is a big name. He is an excellent name. I see him as austere, rigorous. This could enable us to send out a signal that the finance ministry is embarking on fiscal adjustments" to win back the confidence of a market which had all but given up on Rousseff, TAG Investments economist Andre Leite told AFP.
"He is a very respected person who usually works very well in concert with (Nelson) Barbosa," the former deputy finance minister who was nominated as minister of planning, said Leite.
"It remains to be seen if they bow to political pressures -- but this guarantees a 60-day honeymoon for President Rousseff," he added.

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