FiNETIK – Asia and Latin America – Market News Network

Asia and Latin America News Network focusing on Financial Markets, Energy, Environment, Commodity and Risk, Trading and Data Management

Brazil mysterious interest rate cuts & proposed Euro Rescue package… cause to worry?

Who sets interest rates in Brazil: Is it Central Bank President Alexandre Tombini or the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff? That question hung over financial markets after the Central Bank of Brazil cut the benchmark Selic interest rate by half a point, to 12 percent, on Aug. 31. The move was unexpected: The bank’s rate-setting committee had ratcheted up the Selic at its five previous meetings to combat inflation and had not signaled a change in its stance. Yet Rousseff in an Aug. 30 radio broadcast had said rates should begin to fall as the government curbs spending.

(Interestingly a week later Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister, suddenly proposed a “Bric” rescue package for the eurozone this week, he caught not only other world leaders by surprise but also many of his fellow countrymen.

Even as officials from other members of the so-called Bric grouping – Russia, India and China – said it was the first they heard of the idea, many ordinary Brazilians expressed shock at the notion of bailing out the world’s richest trading bloc. FT 16.09.2011)

The abruptness of the shift in monetary policy left money managers such as Guilherme Figueiredo, director of M. Safra, a São Paulo investment firm, with the impression that Tombini had caved in to political pressure. “This is the worst possible decision our central bank could have made at such a moment,” Figueiredo says. “The loss of credibility is going to be large.” Rousseff’s press office declined to comment when asked about the rate decision.

New data indicate that Tombini may have acted prematurely. On Sept. 6, Brazil’s statistics agency said inflation accelerated to an annualized 7.23 percent in August—its fastest pace since 2005 and well above the 6.5 percent upper end of the target range set by monetary authorities for the full year. In an Aug. 31 statement the central bank defended the rate cut, saying it will help shield the economy from the effects of a “substantial deterioration” in the world growth outlook.

It’s true that Brazil shows signs of cooling. The central bank’s economic activity index shrank in June for the first time since 2008, and business confidence in the second quarter slid to its lowest level since 2009. Economists expect growth to slow to 3.7 percent this year, from 7.5 percent in 2010.

Finance Minister Guido Mantega has pledged that the government won’t resort to fiscal stimulus to spur the economy. Whether Rousseff, who took office on Jan. 1, can discipline the spending habits of the multiparty ruling coalition remains an open question, however. Congress rebelled against her first attempts at frugality by proposing bigger salaries for police officers and an increase in health-care spending. Cutting rates in these circumstances “is really risky, with inflation building and wages set to rise,” says Elson Teles, chief economist at Maxima Asset Management in Rio de Janeiro. The central bank is “weighing such subjective things like whether there’s going to be another global recession. What if it doesn’t happen?”

The bottom line: Brazil’s central bank may have bowed to government pressure for a rate cut, endangering its goal of containing inflation.

Source: Bloomberg, 08. 09.2011is a reporter for Bloomberg News.  Ragir   Bristow is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Advertisements

Filed under: Brazil, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , ,

Brazil to increase primary surplus and make room for interest rates cut – prepares for global slowdown

Brazil plans to further contain government spending this year to prepare the country for a global slowdown and make room for a cut in interest rates, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on Monday.

The government raised its target for the 2011 budget surplus before interest payments to 91 billion Real (57 billion dollars) from 81.7 billion Real, Mantega told reporters in Brasilia.

Brazil joins countries from Mexico to Turkey in signalling that rate cuts may be on the horizon as global growth sputters and a debt crisis in Europe worsens.

“It makes it viable in the medium- or long-term to cut interest rates,” Mantega said. “As you reduce or stop increasing public spending, you open space for a reduction in interest rates when the central bank thinks it is possible.”

The central bank’s board of directors, led by President Alexandre Tombini, begins its August policy meeting Tuesday, with inflation above 7% for the first time since 2005. Traders are wagering that policy makers will cut rates a quarter-point this week, and between 0.75 and 1 percentage point by year-end, as the economy shows signs of cooling and the global recovery falters.

Mantega said he sees no immediate need for monetary stimulus and added that inflation is a permanent concern for President Dilma Rousseff’s government.

Mexico policy makers kept the benchmark rate at a record low 4.5% for the 21st consecutive meeting on Aug. 26 and said they would consider adjusting it if the national or global economic outlook worsens. The Turkish central bank also left its benchmark rate unchanged on Aug. 23 and Governor Erdem Basci said the institution may have to loosen monetary policy. Peru and Chile also held rates this month.

Brazil’s budget surplus (before interest payments) widened in July to a record for the month pushing the year-to-date total to almost 80% of the 2011 target.

The so-called primary surplus, which includes federal and local governments as well as state companies, last month rose to 13.8 billion Real from 13.4 billion Real in June. The government earlier this year cut 50.7 billion Real from its 2011 budget.

Brazil’s economic activity shrank in June for the first time since December, 2008. Industrial production fell 1.6% in June the second-biggest drop in output since 2008, and business confidence in the second quarter fell to its lowest level since 2009.

Source: Merco Press-South Atlantic News Agency, 30.08.2011

Filed under: Brazil, Events, Mexico, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , , , ,