Israeli economist confirmed head of Brazil’s Central Bank

Marcy Oster

Ilan Goldfajn, an Israeli-born economist, was named Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil on May 17, 2016. (Photo/Marcus Moraes)

Ilan Goldfajn, an Israeli-born economist, was named Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil on May 17, 2016. (Photo/Marcus Moraes)

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Ilan Goldfajn, an Israeli-born economist with an acknowledged career in both the public and private sectors, was confirmed Tuesday as president of Brazil’s Central Bank.

Born in Haifa and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Goldfajn has served as chief economist at Itau, Brazil’s largest private bank, deputy to the bank governor of Brazil, an adviser to the World Bank and adviser to the International Monetary Fund.

Goldfajn, 50, is an active member of the Brazilian Jewish community. He was educated in Rio’s Liessin Jewish day school. In a May meeting held by the Brazil-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Goldfajn said that “Brazil has a lot to learn from Israel.”

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Last year, Goldfajn argued during an Israel-Brazil chamber event in Tel Aviv that the deep crisis affecting Brazil stems from a lack of fiscal responsibility and to emerge from the crisis Brazil will need to boost exports and raise taxes, cut government spending and raise the retirement age.

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An outspoken critic of the corruption and socio-economic gaps in Brazil, Goldfajn will face a series of monetary and economic challenges. Latin America’s largest nation is struggling with its worst recession in nearly a century, including the prolonged erosion of the Brazilian currency, the real, the steadily rising inflation and the pessimistic projections of a negative 3 percent growth in 2016.

He dedicated his brilliant career to his father’s advice on the importance of studying.

“I only stopped my formal studies at almost 30. This was key to my life in economics, which is also based on studies. Right after I graduated, I thought of working and my father showed me I could invest in me more,” he told Educate to Grow magazine in 2012.

Last week, Michel Temer was named Brazil’s interim president replacing the suspended Dilma Rousseff, who is facing impeachment over her alleged manipulation of the state budget. At the time, Temer had put forward Goldfajn’s name as the mostly like for the central bank, but finance minister Henrique Meirelles delayed the announcement of his economic team until Tuesday.

Fluent in Hebrew, English, Portuguese, and Spanish, Goldfajn has a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. In the mid-1990s he was a professor at Brandeis University, followed by a stint as an economist at the International Monetary Fund.

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