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Brazil leader names pro-market Levy as finance minister

28 november 2014, 12:51

 Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday named Joaquim Levy, widely regarded as a pro-market figure, to be her new finance minister as her government looks to steer the economy out of recession, AFP reports.

Levy, 53, was previously chief executive officer of Bradesco Asset Management (Bram), part of Brazil's second-largest private bank.

The president's office also announced Rousseff had kept Alexandre Tombini as central bank chief and named Nelson Barbosa as planning minister.

Brazil, the world's seventh-largest economy, has struggled under Rousseff, who narrowly won re-election last month for a new four-year term despite presiding over a recession in the first half of the year.

Levy takes over the finance ministry from Guido Mantega, in the post for eight years.

He served as treasury secretary under Rousseff's predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former union leader who saw him as underscoring his own market credentials.

Lula, who remains widely popular for presiding over strong growth during his eight-year administration, was instrumental in Rousseff's choice of a new treasury team as she mulled a range of candidates over recent days, according to Brazilian media reports.

Rousseff is deeply unpopular with the financial world, not least owing to heavy government intervention in economic policy.

Moreover, her reshuffle comes as her government is mired in a huge corruption scandal at state-owned oil giant Petrobras that has already led to the arrests of a clutch of top businessmen amid claims that dozens of politicians, chiefly Rousseff allies, received massive kickbacks on contracts.

But she has won plaudits with her choice of the University of Chicago-trained economist who has also worked with the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

Nicknamed "Scissorhands" for his steely budgetary management, Levy was described by Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo as "addicted to work, frank almost to the point of rudeness" and "as stubborn as Dilma."

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