(Adds expected timing of Senate vote in 5th paragraph)
By Jamie McGeever and Marcela Ayres
BRASILIA, April 9 (Reuters) - Brazil’s central bank president Roberto Campos Neto on Thursday said he is not in favor of money printing to steer the economy through the current crisis, as advocated this week by one of his predecessors, and former finance minister, Henrique Meirelles.
Campos Neto said that just because inflation is currently very low it is still a “dangerous” idea to print money, backing up his view that he would prefer any bond-buying by the central bank not to increase the monetary base.
“I am not in favor of the idea of the central bank printing money,” he said in a live event on online portal UOL. “Our view is that (money printing) is not the best way out (of the crisis).”
Meirelles told BBC News Brasil this week that the central bank could buy government bonds with newly-created money - the traditional interpretation of ‘quantitative easing’, or QE - and not run the risk of fueling inflation because the economy is so weak.
The Senate is expected to vote as early as Monday on a constitutional amendment giving the central bank emergency, crisis-fighting powers to buy a range of private and public assets, including government bonds.
But Campos Neto said this week that the purchase of longer-dated bonds to bring down longer-term interest rates would ideally be offset by the sale of short-term bonds.
Earlier on Thursday, in a presentation to senators posted on the central bank’s website, he said the value of private sector financial assets potentially available for purchase could total almost 1 trillion reais ($197 billion).
These include debentures and mortgage loans that it could potentially buy to help ensure financial markets have sufficient liquidity, function smoothly, and provide credit where it is needed.
The 972.9 billion reais list of assets, however, will not include equities or investment funds.
Campos Neto noted that the scramble for liquidity in times of crisis affects the cost of borrowing for even the strongest companies, telling UOL later in the day that the central bank might have to end up buying equity stakes in large companies as well as their debt.
“Central banks in emerging countries may need to act as the ‘buyer of last resort’ - several are taking steps in this direction,” he said in his presentation.
The central bank’s measures to provide liquidity to markets and improve the flow of credit throughout the economy come to 1.2 trillion reais, or 16.7% of gross domestic product.
$1 = 5.06 reais Reporting by Jamie McGeever and Marcela Ayres Editing by Diane Craft and Alistair Bell