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US, European leaders 'not up to the task': Brazil

09 august 2011, 12:21
US and European leaders were "not up to the task" of handling their debt crises, Brazil's chief of staff Gleisi Hoffmann said Monday as world markets tumbled on the US credit rating downgrade, AFP reports.

Hoffmann also said that Brazil had to "protect" itself to minimize the consequences of the dual crises on its economy, one of the world's biggest emerging powers.

Her boss, President Dilma Rousseff, called the decision by Standard and Poor's to cut the US credit rating for the first time in history from AAA to AA+ "hasty" -- but said Brazil was strong enough to weather the storm.

"The difficulties in kickstarting the European economies, and even the US economy, are enormous," Hoffmann said in a speech at a public forum on the middle class in Brasilia.

"In these countries, the political leaders were not up to the task of handling the complexity of the situation, and have forced the world to bear the consequences of their inability," she said.

"They have so far not succeeded in finding sensible solutions" to their ballooning debt problems, Hoffmann said, predicting tough times ahead and adding: "We must be prepared to protect Brazil from this serious crisis."

Hoffmann, a key figure in Rousseff's government, was making "all possible efforts" to do just that, such as spending cuts and offering incentives to businesses such as tax exemptions.

"We want to pursue our economic growth by creating jobs, distributing revenues and helping millions of people join the middle class," she said.

Global markets tumbled on Monday after S&P handed the United States its first-ever credit rating downgrade on Friday, with investors jittery about the situation in Washington and the lingering eurozone debt crisis.

Rousseff, an economist by training, said she did not share the "hasty, somewhat speedy and even incorrect evaluation carried out by Standard and Poor's" and lamented that the move came during a crisis.

"Brazil is strong enough to confront this hurdle," Rousseff insisted.

The Sao Paulo stock exchange, South America's largest, had plummeted 5.33 percent by midday Monday, officials said.

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