Goldfein had previously served as chief economist at Itau, Brazil’s largest private bank, deputy to the bank governor of Brazil, an advisor to the World Bank and advisor to the International Monetary Fund. Goldfein earned his PhD in economics from MIT. He is considered one of the leading and most well-regarded economists in Brazil, has worked as a senior lecturer at top universities and has published many articles. In addition to Portuguese, he speaks Hebrew, English and Spanish. He has family in Israel and visits often.
Goldfein’s appointment was announced at a difficult time for the country's economy, as the Brazilian Real continues to lose its value and in light of predictions claiming that the country’s economic growth is slowing down. Goldfein put the blame for the current situation on the government’s fiscal misconduct, saying that “We are currently carrying out a very important investigation that deals with corruption. Its trail of money flows from the private sector to public companies, from Petrobras (a state- owned oil company also involved in the scandal) to politicians. For the first time we have billionaires sitting in jail. We have politicians in jail. People ask, ‘Why is everything happening all at once?’
With an intensive investigation the kind of which we have never seen, the worst recession in our history and
the recent suspension, is it all just a bad coincidence? Obviously, it is not. What happened was that the middle class, which had thought it was going to get rich and whose aspirations were going to come true, must now face the decimation of its prosperous dreams.”
Ilan Goldfein estimated that in order to successfully get out of the current crisis, the Brazilian government will have to take unpopular measures, such as raising taxes, budget cuts and raising the age of retirement, which currently stands at an average of 50–55 years, up to 65. “The problem is that instead of facing reality, Brazil has entered a phase of denial and I hope to challenge this,” he said.