Simonsen, Mário Henrique (1935–1997)

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Simonsen, Mário Henrique (1935–1997)

Mário Henrique Simonsen (b. 19 February 1935; d. 9 February 1997), Brazilian minister of finance (1974–1979) and of planning (1979). Economist, professor, public official, and business administrator, Simonsen served as Brazil's principal economic minister following the high-growth period known as the Economic Miracle (1968–1974). Relatively orthodox in his economic thinking, Simonsen joined the faculty of the Instituto Brasileiro de Economia of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro in 1961, acted as director of the Graduate School of Economics (1965–1974), and became vice president of the institute (1979). In the mid-1960s, as a staff member in the planning ministry led by Roberto Campos, he designed the wage policy formula and participated in the creation of the housing finance system. In addition to his term as minister, he served as the president of the Brazilian Literacy Movement Foundation (Fundação Movimento Brasileiro de Alfabetização—MOBRAL) from 1970 to 1974 and as director of Citicorp (since 1979) and of other companies.

As minister of finance, Simonsen organized Brazil's response to the increase in world oil prices in 1973 and the adjustment to its spectacular growth in manufacturing capacity during the Economic Miracle. His program, reflected in the Second National Development Plan (Il Plano Nacional de Desenvolvimento), attempted to reduce dependence on external energy and other imports through large public investment projects in basic industry and infrastructure, including transportation and communications. Brazilian private and state companies as well as foreign firms participated in the program, which was financed in part with petrodollars. At the same time, to control inflation and to deal with recurring problems in Brazil's balance of payments and foreign reserves, Simonsen often resorted to restrictive macroeconomic policies in spite of their recessionary impact, although growth during the period was still substantial. In 1979, he resigned as planning minister in the new president's cabinet, owing to public resistance to the prospect of even harsher macroeconomic policies in response to rising inflation; he was replaced by Antônio Delfim Neto.

See alsoBrazil, Economic Miracle (1968–1974); Economic Development.


Israel Beloch and Alzira Alves De Abreu, eds., Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983, vol. 4 (1984).

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

Additional Bibliography

Aspe Armello, Pedro, and Rudiger Dornbusch. Financial Policies and the World Capital Market: The Problem of Latin American Countries. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Bruno, Michael. Inflation Stabilization: The Experience of Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Mexico. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988.

Dornbusch, Rudiger, and Marío Henrique Simonsen. Inflation, Debt, and Indexation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983.

                                  Russell E. Smith