Ex-Brazil bank chief Meirelles says no talk of joining Lula but door is open

Ex-Brazil bank chief Meirelles says no talk of joining Lula but door is open

Written by Marcela Ayres

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s former central bank chief, Henrique Meirelles, who served under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said on Monday he had not discussed joining the government if the leftist leader wins a third term in October’s election.

“There is nothing (on the table),” he told Reuters after endorsing Lula at an election event, stressing his strong ties with him.

Asked if he would eventually accept an invitation, he said he wouldn’t “waste time deciding on a hypothesis,” adding that in 2002 when Lula first won the presidency, the central bank’s management offer didn’t come until after the election.

Meirelles, who developed a track record at the central bank and ran for president in 2018, took part in Monday’s event with other former candidates who support Lula. Lula leads the right Jair Bolsonaro in the opinion polls.

Traders said the strong endorsement from Meirelles contributed to a strong day for Brazilian markets, with the currency gaining 1.8% and the benchmark stock index rising 2.3%.

“I gave a strong speech precisely because I am a man who believes in facts in my career and in my life. Both terms (Lula) have been very positive for the country,” he said, referring to success in controlling inflation, creating jobs, reducing poverty and building foreign exchange reserves.

Meirelles said he was invited to the campaign trail by Lula’s election deputy from the center and his former rival, Geraldo Alcumen, also named in the mix to manage the economic policy of the eventual Lula government.

Asked if the presence of Alcmin, a former governor of São Paulo, on the ticket with Lula had a role in mobilizing Meirelles’ support, the former central bank governor said it “helps”, but also emphasized his “excellent relations” with Lula.

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Meirelles, Brazil’s longest-serving central bank governor (2003-2010), is remembered for his role in managing the 2008 financial crisis and aggressively raising interest rates to fight inflation.

He also led the Ministry of Finance during former President Michel Temer’s 2016-2018 term, when he proposed two reforms considered critical to fiscal sustainability: the constitutional spending cap and the TLP rate for loans from the BNDES Development Bank, driving the cost of government credit. Closer to market prices. Both have already been criticized by some economists close to Lula.

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