The Economist, 10/20/2012
ON OCTOBER 10th Brazil’s Central Bank cut its policy interest rate for the tenth time in just over a year, to 7.25%. The move surprised analysts, since rates were already historically low and inflation above the centre of the monetary-policy committee’s 2.5-6.5% target. Neither economic growth, likely to finish the year at an anaemic 1.5%, nor the currency, which tends to rise with rates as return-seeking foreign investors pile in, are supposed to play a part in its deliberations. But most analysts now believe that its decisions are taken with an eye to boosting growth and weakening the currency, and that unless inflation threatens to break the 6.5% barrier, rates will stay low for some time.
For now, subdued global demand means that inflation is unlikely to slip its leash. But in the longer term the government will have to rein in public spending and push through difficult reforms if it wants Brazil to grow faster than 3-4% a year without fuelling inflation. Recent moves to cut payroll taxes, limit public-sector pay rises, reduce energy costs and improve a woeful transport infrastructure should help to raise this distinctly modest economic speed limit. They have also convinced many that the president, Dilma Rousseff, will do whatever it takes to save the bank from having to hike again.