Delfim Neto, Antônio (1928–)

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Delfim Neto, Antônio (1928–)

Antônio Delfim Neto (b. 1 May 1928), Brazilian minister of finance (1967–1974) and planning (1979–1985). Economist, professor, and legislator, Delfim Neto oversaw Brazil's substantial economic policy apparatus for two extended periods during the military regime of 1964–1985. Known as a pragmatist, he was professor of economics at the University of São Paulo (1952–1965), secretary of finance of the state of São Paulo (1966–1967), ambassador to France (1975–1978), minister of agriculture (1979), and federal deputy (1987–). From 1967 to 1974, Delfim Neto presided over the Economic Miracle, a period when Brazil experienced an average annual growth rate in excess of 10 percent. Building on economic stabilization and institutional reform (1964–1967) and with the backing of a strong military government, his policies stimulated the economy, in the presence of wage and price controls, through lower interest rates, loosening of credit, export promotion, expansion of public investment in transportation and energy, and strengthening of public administration. The period witnessed rapid expansion of production, while provoking criticism over the increasingly unequal distribution of income and controversy over manipulation of the price indexes in 1973 to mask rising rates of inflation.

Delfim Neto began his second period in power promising to avoid a recession while combating inflation. In spite of active management, inflation surged in 1980, and output fell markedly in 1981. After a slight improvement in 1982, a key election year in the redemocratization process, chronic problems in Brazil's balance of payments worsened into a debt crisis. The years 1983–1984 witnessed harsh stabilization and export-promotion programs that caused a major internal recession while generating a sizable trade surplus that mitigated the debt crisis and created the external preconditions for the Cruzado Plan of 1986. The plan was an attempt to fight inertial inflation by freezing prices; ending wage indexation; and generally deindexing the economy, including long-term contracts. Although it was unsuccessful, experience with the plan contributed to subsequent plans. Delfim Neto was elected to the nation's constituent assembly in 1986 and retained his seat for five four-year terms, until losing it in the 2006 elections. He continues to write articles regularly for the national press, including the column "Sextante" in the journal Carta Capital.

See alsoBrazil: Since 1889; Brazil, Economic Miracle (1968–1974); Campos, Roberto (de Oliveira); Economic Development; Simonsen, Mário Henrique.


Israel Beloch and Alzira Alves De Abreu, eds., Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983, vol. 2 (1984).

Leôncio Martins Rodrigues, Quem é quem na constituinte: Uma análise sócio-política dos partidos e deputados (1987).

Werner Baer, The Brazilian Economy: Growth and Development, 3d ed. (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Setti, Ricardo A. A história secreta do plano cruzado. São Paulo: Editora Canarinho, 2001.

Winograd, Carlos D. Learning from Failed Stabilisation: High Inflation and the Cruzado Plan in Brazil. London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 1995.

                                   Russell E. Smith