Elected Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva relieved markets when he officially announced the nomination of Deputy Henrique Meirelles, belonging to outgoing president Fernando Cardoso party and a former extremely successful CEO of Bank Boston, as the country's next president of the Central Bank.
On his return from meeting president Bush in White House and president Vicente Fox in Mexico City, Mr. Lula also confirmed Antonio Palocci, his head of campaign and transition team, as Finance Minister and the Workers Party, PT, president and former Trotskyite guerrilla José Dirceu as chief cabinet minister. Mr. Mereilles, 57, the most voted Deputy from the state of Goias, was elected in last October's election after having abandoned his job as FleetBoston Global Bank and Bank Boston CEO, the first foreigner to hold the highest post in one of United States leading financial institutions. In spite of his international career Mr. Meirelles has kept in touch with Brazilian politics and while CEO of BankBoston in Sao Paulo was a leading member of a project financed by businessmen, banks and trade unions to help homeless children of the street. His acquaintance with Mr. Lula comes from that time. When Mr. Meirelles decided to abandon banking for politics, several parties invited him to join but was finally convinced by President Cardoso. After the election he participated in a multi party delegation visiting bankers and Wall Street investors in New York. Mr. Meirelles is a civil engineer from Sao Paulo University and holds a Master degree in Business Administration from the Federal University of Rio do Janeiro. He began working for Bank Boston in 1974 and in the early eighties obtained a Master in Finance from Harvard University. For twelve years he was CEO of the Brazilian branch until 1996 when he was named to preside over the whole financial consortium. And in 1999 Mr. Meirelles became CEO of FleetBoston Global Bank, when Bank Boston absorbed the Fleet Financial Group. The naming of Mr. Meirelles in the Central Bank and Mr. Palocci as Finance Minister of the administration that takes office next January was praised by outgoing Brazilian officials and considered positive by Brazilian bond holders and Wall Street. Brazil's foreign debt stands at over 260 billion US dollars and there were mounting concerns that a government by the former metal workers union leader could revert to his not so distant preaching of rejecting the country's heavy financial commitments. The naming of Mr. Dirceu, a former extreme left violent militant, as Chief cabinet minister was interpreted as a strong message inside the Workers Party, whose radical wing protested the naming of Mr. Meirelles.
KÃÃ‚Â¶hler in Chile IMF Managing Director Horst KÃÃ‚Â¶hler during a two days visit to Chile praised the soundness of the Chilean economy and anticipated a technical mission will be arriving next January to help homologate the country's fiscal accounts making them compatible with international procedure. "The task of this mission will be to establish precisely the way to classify the country's debt", said Mr. KÃÃ‚Â¶hler adding that the original request came from Chilean president Ricardo Lagos himself. The Chilean press reported that Wall Street analysts have complained about the apparent lack of transparency in Chile's public accounts that could lead to misinterpretation and damage the country's strong international image. Mr. KÃÃ‚Â¶heler pointed out that nevertheless Chile's macroeconomic policies are stable and sound, and have enabled the country to grow in spite of regional turbulence. "Chile must be satisfied with the 2% growth recorded", plus the other international achievements such as the free trade agreements with the European Union and the most recent with the United States. "Latinamerican countries could learn from the Chilean example", underlined the IMF Managing Director. Regarding Argentina Mr. KÃÃ‚Â¶hler said he was "optimistic, but realistic", however he declined to reveal the coming steps in the ongoing discussions with president Duhalde administration. Mr. KÃÃ‚Â¶hler repeated in Chile his confidence in elected president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva social and economic programmes. "We feel Mr. Lula will overcome his country's difficulties since he has been quiet clear in his commitment to sound and healthy fiscal and monetary policies. We will do our best to support him", emphasized Mr. KÃÃ‚Â¶hler.