Brazil's new finance minister winning over boss, but under fire
By Alonso Soto
BRASILIA, March 18 (Reuters) - At the start of the year, few would have guessed that a "Chicago Boy" economist would win over Brazil's leftist president, Dilma Rousseff.
But that's precisely what her new finance minister, Joaquim Levy, appears to be doing.
After two months on the job, the 54-year-old Levy has grown closer to Rousseff and earned a place in her inner circle as she tries to pull Brazil's economy out of a prolonged slump, government sources told Reuters.
With Brazil at risk of losing its coveted investment grade rating, Rousseff has embraced Levy's push to rein in spending and raise taxes in a bid to restore fiscal credibility.
That is an about-face for Rousseff, a one-time Marxist rebel whose first term as president was marked by unchecked spending and heavy-handed intervention in the economy - policies that critics say have pushed Brazil to the brink of its worst recession in 25 years.
Levy wasn't Rousseff's first choice for the post but, to the surprise of many, he is rapidly gaining clout in Brasilia, advising her on matters beyond the economy and even leading talks with Congress, three government sources said.
"She listens to Levy like very few people in this government," said an official who has worked with both. "He has produced results and that has increased her trust in him."
What makes the partnership particularly unusual is the ideological divide between them. Continuación...