Carlos Langoni, who resigned late Thursday as president of Brazil's central bank, said yesterday that the financially distressed nation gave up far too much to its bankers and the International Monetary Fund to get loan money flowing again.
Langoni's resignation shocked the international banking community, although bankers said that he had been at odds with Planning Minister Antonio Delfim Netto for some months and that the policy rift had widened in recent weeks.
Some bankers agree with Langoni's contention that Brazil needs easier terms from its bankers and more time from the IMF to get its economic house in order. The IMF is insisting that Brazil take strong action to reduce inflation and government spending--steps that would worsen Brazil's recession, already in its third year.
They also worry that Langoni's departure, which leaves Delfim in firm control of Brazil's economic policymaking apparatus, will increase the already widespread opposition to the IMF in Brazil. There already have been strikes in Brazil and, as unemployment and poverty increase in coming months, the political and social turmoil is expected to worsen.
Affonso Celso Pastore, an economics professor at Sao Paolo University and a friend of Delfim, was named to succeed Langoni in the top economic policy post.
William R. Rhodes, the Citibank senior vice president who is in charge of the bank committee negotiating with Brazil, said Pastore "is well known to the international banking community as a highly respected public finance professional."
Rhodes, who took over the bank committee after the previous agreement between Brazil and its lenders broke down, said he anticipates no slowing or interruption in the negotiations. Besides dealing with the IMF, Brazil must restructure billions of dollars of bank debts that come due this year and next and come up with another $10 billion or so in new money from its bank lenders and other governments such as the United States. Most of the $10 billion is expected to come from the banks.
Brazil, with $90 billion in foreign debts now, could not meet the initial program it agreed to last February, and both the IMF and the banks cut off lending until a new agreement could be reached.
After a tense summer of negotiations, the IMF and Brazil have reached a new agreement on steps Brazil must take to qualify for a resumption of lending. Langoni's opposition to some of the measures demanded by the IMF helped to delay the agreement that sources say will be signed within a week or 10 days. It is this agreement that sparked Langoni's resignation.
Langoni said at a press conference yesterday in Brasilia that the performance targets demanded by the IMF are "unrealistic and difficult to achieve." He criticized the government's willingness to agree to cut the inflation rate from the current 150 percent to 55 percent through 1985.
"We cannot live with an inflation of 150 percent, but it would have been more realistic to aim for 70 percent to 80 percent," Langoni said. He also balked at the requirement that Brazil severely slash its government spending to reduce its borrowing needs.
"When I saw the terms of the letter of intent and they did not meet my point of view, I could not sign it. There was no alternative but to resign," Langoni said.
One New York banker said that Langoni's resignation "lends an additional element of uncertainty" to the already precarious and uncertain negotiations that are supposed to give Brazil enough money to permit it to get its economic house in order.
Another banker, sympathetic to Langoni's belief that Brazil cannot reduce its borrowing needs and its inflation rate as fast as the IMF wants it to, said that Delfim was too willing to agree to the terms sought by the IMF. "It sounds strange for a banker to be saying this, but Langoni is right," the banker said.