Can Free Markets Fix It All? These Times Are Over. Says Brazil President

Lula gets Don Quijote prize in Spain Talking in Spain, Brazilian President, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, noted that the days when emerging economies were dependent on the IMF (International Monetary Fund) IMF "are over" and so are over the days when Latin America had no voice in international affairs,

"The story that free markets fix it all is over," he added in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais.

The Brazilian president in Spain to be honored with the Don Quijote Prize for the promotion of Spanish language added that he was convinced that the current financial crisis would open the way for deep changes in global finances and world balances.

Lula said that Brazil is gradually becoming an emerging regional and global power and emphasized he was convinced that free trade "was the best antidote for the current crisis."

"From Spain I'm leaving for India to talk with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the Doha round on free trade, which is paralyzed basically because of a disagreement between the United States and India over agriculture," said the Brazilian leader.

"I'm going to tell my good friend Singh that there could be no better or more positive gesture to begin to overcome the current financial crisis than to conclude the Doha round," he underlined.

The Brazilian president insisted that the Doha round is not an economic problem, "it's political."

Before leaving for India and after having been honored in Toledo together with the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, Lula said that Brazil was ready to use foreign reserves and buy bank shares if necessary to defend its financial system.

He recalled Brazil has over US$ 230 billion in reserves it can draw on and is in a stronger position to fight the international financial crisis than any of the world's large economies.

"All of this is money we can use, in the event it was necessary; we are prepared to free up some resources in our reserves, so as long as they pay us with bonds, so that reserves are maintained."

Lula said resources would principally be for Brazilian banks that operate abroad. Asked if Brazil's government was prepared to buy bank shares, the president said it would depend on the situation.

"If there was a bank in a position that we considered that it was necessary, first we would get another bank to buy their portfolio, like Bank of Brazil already bought three. And it has the ability to buy more," said Lula da Silva.

"Second, if it was necessary the government would lend money to the central bank as a lender of last resort. What I think is that we should remain alert."

"Of all the big countries, BRICs and developed, that which faces the least risk is Brazil" he underlined.

Mercopress

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