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By Flavia Bohone and Silvio Cascione
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Brazil’s central bank chief, Alexandre Tombini, tapped a vocal critic to sit on the bank’s board on Thursday, the latest effort by President Dilma Rousseff’s government to win back skeptics in the financial markets.
Tombini nominated Tony Volpon, the head of emerging market research in the Americas for Nomura Securities International, as director of international affairs.
Volpon has criticized the central bank’s currency interventions, called out Rousseff for profligate spending and argued against Brazil’s use of capital controls. He warned as recently as October that a newly reelected Rousseff’s honeymoon with markets could be “short and ultimately frustrating.”
Brazil’s central bank is working to burnish its inflation-fighting credentials since an ill-fated effort to cut interest rates, starting in 2011, which fanned inflation without delivering the economic rebound promised by the government.
“There is little doubt that the policy experiment of 2011-2012 failed,” Volpon wrote to clients a year ago.
“Unfortunately, the government engineered a massive loosening of fiscal policy and imposed capital controls in a bid to weaken (the currency) ... Could anyone really be surprised that all that happened was higher inflation?”
Anchoring inflation expectations will be key for the central bank as it faces a series of price shocks this year from rising energy prices to concerns about power and water rationing.
Volpon would be the first central bank director to come from a private-sector finance job since Aldo Luiz Mendes joined the board in 2009, following a stint as chief financial officer of state-run Banco do Brasil SA.
Volpon’s nomination drew immediate comparisons to Rousseff’s surprise pick for finance minister in her second term. Joaquim Levy stepped down as head of asset management at Banco Bradesco SA to join the government last month.
“He is clearly a more hawkish voice for the board ... It brings someone from the market, from the private-sector like Levy,” said Bruno Rovai, an economist with Barclays in New York.
“But with so much bad news, I don’t think this good news is going to bring much cheer to the market or take the premium out of the interest rate curve.”
Volpon was one of two new directors Tombini suggested to Rousseff, the central bank said in a statement on its website. He also nominated one of his own advisors, Otavio Ribeiro Damaso, to become director of regulation.
Both nominations must be formally approved by Rousseff and Brazil’s senate. (Additional reporting by Brad Haynes. Editing by Andre Grenon)