Brazil's Rousseff considers ex-Wall Street banker to right economy

miércoles 12 de noviembre de 2014 08:37 GYT

By Alonso Soto

BRASILIA Nov 12 (Reuters) - Former Wall Street banker Henrique Meirelles is a frontrunner to be Brazil's next finance minister, sources close to the government told Reuters, in what would mark a major shift toward business-friendly policies in President Dilma Rousseff's second term.

Meirelles, 69, is widely respected in financial markets and was a main architect of the leftist ruling party's pragmatic policies when he led the central bank from 2003 to 2010, a period that twinned robust economic growth with low inflation and strong anti-poverty programs.

He often clashed during those years with Rousseff, who favors a more leftist, interventionist approach and has made many economic decisions herself since taking office in 2011.

Latin America's biggest economy has stagnated under her watch, averaging less than 2 percent growth per year or half the expansion rate of the previous decade.

Fears that Rousseff would win re-election and continue the same policies dragged Brazilian stocks down more than 20 percent between early September and immediately after her narrow victory on Oct. 26. They have since recovered slightly but remain volatile over uncertainty about the economic course she will take.

Even some of Rousseff's allies - among them influential former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - are encouraging her to choose Meirelles, who would likely oversee big budget cuts and a return to more orthodox policies in an effort to ward off a prolonged stagnation or downgrades of Brazil's credit ratings next year.

"Until recently, nobody believed Meirelles could be in the running, but his name is gaining ground and fast," said a senior lawmaker with the ruling Workers' Party who met with both Rousseff and Lula last week.

"She has acknowledged the need for more drastic changes to turn the economy around," the lawmaker said on condition of anonymity.   Continuación...