Brazil: Harvard Professor and Central Bank Chief Leave Lula’s Administration

Lula and Mangabeira Unger Brazil's presidential advisor Roberto Mangabeira Unger and the chief of the Brazilian Central Bank (BC), Henrique Meirelles, will be leaving the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's administration in the coming months. Unger, who was US president Obama's professor, is returning to his post in Harvard University. Meirelles intends to run for governor of Goiás state, in the Brazilian Midwest.

Both have played crucial roles in Lula's government. The Brazilian president confirmed this Monday, June 29, that Mangabeira Unger will resume his teaching career at Harvard University.

Press reports in recent days indicated that Mangabeira Unger was likely to resign his post advising President Lula da Silva on long-term economic planning. Under Harvard University rules, Mangabeira Unger was eligible for a leave-of-absence of no more than two years. The two-year period lapses in August.

Since 2007, Mangabeira Unger has been advising Lula on issues such as long-term energy and food security, foreign trade and investment. A Brazilian citizen, author and sometimes political activist, Mangabeira Unger is a tenured professor at Harvard Law School.

Meantime the Brazilian financial magazine Valor Econômico reported in its latest edition that Brazilian Central Bank President Henrique Meirelles will leave his post in March to run for governor of the farm state of Goiás. Allegedly Lula has already authorized Meirelles's departure for March, the newspaper reported, citing a close adviser presidential source.

Meirelles assumed the central bank presidency in January 2003, after more than a decade serving in key posts at BankBoston and enjoying a high degree of prestige among both domestic and international financial market participants.

Meirelles was appointed to the central bank post by Lula and is the only central bank president to serve under his administration. As a respected international banker, Meirelles played a crucial role in alleviating market fears that the Lula administration would take a populist outlook in economic policy.

Under Meirelles' orthodox tenure, Brazil's central bank has gradually cut the benchmark Selic interest rate to its lowest level ever, 9.25%, while inflation remains under control. When Meirelles assumed the post, the Selic rate was 25%.

In the meantime, inflation, which reached 9.3% in 2003, last year ended at 5.9% and is expected to dip below 5% this year.

Mercopress

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