Friends or foes? Brazil, the IMF and the World Bank, 1961-1967

Carlo Edoardo Altamura*, Claudia Kedar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Between June 1959 and March 1964, the democratic governments of Brazilian presidents Juscelino Kubitschek (January 1956-January 1961), Janio Quadros (January-August 1961), Ranieri Mazzilli (August-September 1961) and João 'Jango' Goulart (September 1961-April 1964) received no support from the World Bank (WB), which refused to fund even a single new project during this period. During this same period, and, more specifically, between July 1958 and January 1965, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the WB's twin institution, granted financial assistance to Brazil only twice: a controversial and highly conditional Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) signed in May 1961; and a non-conditional and automatically approved Compensatory Financial Facility (CFF), granted in May 1963 to compensate Brazil for the decrease in coffee prices on the international market. This attitude towards Brazil changed significantly following the military coup of March 1964. Money flowed into the country and by 1970 Brazil had become the largest receiver of WB funds and a chronic borrower from the IMF, signing two SBAs in 1965, and one per year between 1966 and 1972. We use recently disclosed material from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank archives to analyse the relationship of these two institutions with Brazil and to foster the debate on their political neutrality, arguing that the difference in the IMF's and especially the WB's relations with the military regime reflected, more than anything else, the existence of an ideological affinity between the parties with regards to the 'right' economic policy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)205-236
Number of pages32
JournalFinancial History Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Association for Banking and Financial History.


  • Brazil
  • International Monetary Fund
  • World Bank
  • authoritarianism
  • debt


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