| BRASILIA, March 7
BRASILIA, March 7 Standard & Poor's sovereign
ratings director Lisa Schineller will meet high-ranking
Brazilian government officials next week to evaluate the
country's macroeconomic policies, government sources told
Reuters on Friday.
The meetings, which include visits with Finance Minister
Guido Mantega and central bank chief Alexandre Tombini, come as
Brazil works to allay concerns among S&P and other ratings
agencies that its public finances have taken a turn for the
worse in recent years.
S&P last year placed a negative outlook on its rating for
Brazil, raising fears among investors, local business people and
Brazilian officials that it and other ratings agencies could
downgrade the country's ratings.
Schineller will meet with representatives of the private
sector on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the sources said,
before speaking with Mantega and Tombini Thursday and Friday.
Both officials are expected to stress the government's
commitment to fiscal discipline and inflation targets.
Schineller is also expected to meet with representatives of
the Treasury, the Planning Ministry and the national development
The meetings are expected to play a crucial role in whether
S&P decides to lower Brazil's rating. A S&P spokesman said the
firm wouldn't "comment on speculation about our analyst's
meeting," adding that its ratings are subject to "ongoing
A rating downgrade this year could further erode investor
confidence in Brazil's macroeconomic policies and raise debt
costs, making it tougher for President Dilma Rousseff to promote
economic growth. That, in turn, could complicate Rousseff's bid
for re-election in October.
Brazil is currently rated by S&P at BBB, the second-lowest
investment-grade level. When it lowered its outlook to negative
last June, S&P warned there was a one-in-three chance it would
cut Brazil's rating over the next two years due to rising
public debt and an erosion in macroeconomic stability.
In an attempt to regain market confidence and dodge a
downgrade, Brazil last month promised to deliver a primary
budget surplus of 1.9 percent of gross domestic product this
Such a target, which measures government budget savings
before the payment of interest on public debt, was considered
"realistic" by many investors, as well as competing rating
agencies Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service.
Investors and ratings agencies stressed, however, that they
would closely monitor whether Rousseff will be able to meet that
target, especially considering growing spending pressures during
the election year.