Brazil’s New Finance Minister Faces a Big Test After Friday’s Rout

Raymond Colitt, Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg Business, 12/20/2015

Nelson Barbosa could, of course, turn out to be the man who fixes Brazil’s finances, tames soaring inflation and revives the sinking economy, but investors sure aren’t betting on it.

As word spread across Sao Paulo trading floors Friday that Barbosa would be the country’s next finance minister, replacing the beleaguered Joaquim Levy, markets plunged. By day’s end, the currency was down 2.6 percent, stocks 3 percent. (Markets were little changed early Monday, with the currency swinging between positive and negative territories.)

That harsh reception is the exact opposite of the broad rally that greeted Levy when he took the post a year earlier. Levy, though, was the market’s golden boy, with his University of Chicago-training, asset-manager experience and reputation as a fierce budget cutter. Barbosa, while generally respected by analysts for his technocratic skills, isn’t seen as being quite as tight-fisted on spending, a perception he only reinforced when suggesting Friday that he was amenable to granting subsidies to some industries.

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