Brazil’s Central Bank holds interest rates at 6.5%

Brazil’s central bank held fire on interest rates despite lackluster growth in Latin America’s biggest economy and uncertainty over President Jair Bolsonaro’s ability to push through a much-needed pension reform.

In a unanimous decision, last May 8th the bank kept the key Selic rate, its main instrument for controlling inflation, at the historic low of 6.5%. That is unchanged since March 2018.

The bank expects the rate to stay at that level for the rest of the year, but flagged a possible rise to 7.5% in 2020, according to a statement released after its meeting.

The government’s proposed overhaul of Brazil’s unsustainable pension system, which Bolsonaro has warned would bankrupt the country if the changes are not adopted, is seen as crucial to the president’s chances of making good on his other promised economic reforms.

A parliamentary committee is currently scrutinising the bill which analysts fear could be diluted after it sparked heated debate in the Congress.

Brazil’s commodities-driven economy, which is still struggling to recover from a record 2015-2016 recession, is expected to expand by 1.49% this year, according to a recent central bank survey of economists.

That would be only slightly faster than the 1.1% growth recorded in 2017 and 2018.

Original Story: The Business Times | AFP 
Photo: Site Banco Central do Brasil
Edition: Prime Yield