Interview with Brazilian Economist Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr.

How Slow Reforms at the IMF Led to the Creation of the BRICS Bank

The UN Brief interviewed Brazilian economist Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr., to speak about his time as Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund and as the Vice President at the New Development Bank, launched by five emerging economies, the BRICS. We touched upon the architecture of international finance for development, its shortcomings and its promises. We also spoke about Brazil’s systemic and structural racism, the Brazilian stray dog complex, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Brazil Celso Amorim, Brazilian playwright and author Nelson Rodrigues, and the current reputation of Brazil abroad according to Brazilian journalist Jamil Chade.

Share The UN Brief

If you want the backstory of these two institutions, the IMF resistance to change, what is it like when Brazil becomes a lender, and how the New Development Bank saw the light of the day, and its many present challenges to stay on course, watch to the end. 

Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. taught and was a researcher at the prestigious Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil, he is the son of the late Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Nogueira Batista, and is a skilled negotiator on his own, that speaks eloquently and “tells it as it is” when it comes to the role and place of Brazil in the global scene. 

He is not a fan of the EU/Mercosur agreement and rejoiced on the difficulties Brazil has been facing in joining the OECD, given Bolsonaro’s poor track record on protecting the environment and his disregard for the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest — allowing increased illegal logging activities. Joining the OECD would constrain Brazil’s development policy options, so Bolsonaro's destructive environmental policies had an unintended “positive” effect.

Nogueira Batista Jr. published a book with an intriguing title: “Brazil Does Not Fit on Anyones’s Backyard”. In Portuguese for now. But he will be publishing a book in English to touch upon the some of the same points this coming September. He currently holds a chair at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and is a regular contributor to the Brazilian weekly political news magazine Carta Capital.

We also spoke about the weaknesses of the New Development Bank, where he is adamant that it cannot progress if political appointees do not have the required technical skills. Brazil’s current government — in his opinion — is largely confused, incompetent, and not capable of showing true leadership, and that has harmed the New Development Bank. 

If you speak Portuguese and want to follow what is happening in Brazil you should sign up for his updates, he does short videos commenting on the issues of the day here.

You can also listen to our interviews via SoundCloud.

Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr.

Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. was born in Rio de Janeiro, in 1955. He was executive director for Brazil and other countries at the IMF, in Washington, DC, between 2007 and 2015, and vice president of the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS in Shanghai, from 2015 to 2017.  

Previously, he was special secretary for economic affairs at the Ministry of Planning, in 1985-86, during the administration of João Sayad, and advisor on foreign debt matters to the Minister of Finance, Dilson Funaro, in 1986-87. 

He headed the Center for Monetary Studies and International Economics at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation of Rio de Janeiro from 1986 to 1989. He was a visiting researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo in 1996-98 and again in 2002-04. 

He is the author of the books Myth and Reality in the Brazilian Foreign Debt (1983, Paz e Terra), From the International Crisis to the Brazilian Moratorium (1988, Paz e Terra), The Economy as it is… (3. ed. 2002, Boitempo) and O Brazil and the International Economy: Recovery and Defense of National Autonomy (2005, Elsevier).  

In September 2019, published by Casa da Palavra/LeYa, “Brazil Doesn't Fit in Anyone's Backyard: Backstage of the Life of a Brazilian Economist at the IMF and BRICS and Other Texts on Nationalism and Our “Mutt Complex". 

Share The UN Brief

Discover more contemporary thinkers on international economic policy:

Kevin Gallagher on the Global Finance Architecture Reform