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Highly commended: Pedro Malan, Finance minister, Brazil

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Determination and coordination: those were the words one banker used to characterize Brazil's finance minister. Pedro Malan's policies have continued to improve his country's fiscal outlook and his reactions to the crises of the past year have been timely and attuned to the actions of the central bank.

During the Asian-crisis induced market panic in October, the central bank raised interest rates and the finance minister then rapidly made spending cuts to compensate for this. The combination staved off devaluation. Brazil was the first South American country to react to the crisis. On October 29 the central bank doubled interest rates. On November 10 Malan's fiscal package was introduced. The timely reaction and the united approach assured investors. "The president announced a push forward with structural reforms not just of the central banker, not just the executive federal government. It was the response of the country," explains Malan. "The worst scenario is to act like a passive victim with a wait-and-see attitude. Countries have been paralyzed by that before."

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