Getting to grips with the Argentinian economy: the hard work of the team


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Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernández has selected a transitional team of economic advisers tasked with solving the country’s serious economic problems as it stands on the brink of its ninth sovereign debt default.

When a new Peronist administration takes power on December 10, it will have to act quickly to negotiate a new agreement with the IMF and regain investor confidence in the face of fears of a return of state interventionism in the development of economic policies. .

A close adviser has confirmed that Mr Fernández’s finance minister and a new central bank governor will likely be chosen from among the four economists (profiled below) tasked with tackling what could be the new government’s biggest challenge.

Daniel Kerner, analyst at Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy firm, argued that Fernández’s advisers “highlight a clear heterodox strategy that will complicate relations with the IMF, debt negotiations and the overall design a stabilization plan ”.

Indeed, Mr Fernández’s fierce criticism of the austerity measures implemented by President Mauricio Macri and a clear preference for higher public spending have raised fears that he may find it difficult to strike a deal with the government. IMF, prerequisite for an agreement with private creditors.

Some analysts fear that Argentina’s public debt is unsustainable, which means that a steep “discount” on the value of the bonds of private creditors will be inevitable.

At the same time, Mr Fernández will be limited by a likely power struggle within his own diverse coalition, with looming doubts about the extent to which his vice president and former boss, ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, will influence economic policy.

The best team

Matias Kulfas

Matías Kulfas, 47, is an economist with heterodox tendencies who is a core member of Mr. Fernández’s think tank known as the Callao Group. It was founded last year and made up of a new generation of Peronist politicians, most of them with experience in public service but not at the highest levels of power.

His 2016 book, The Three Kirchnerisms, criticizes the second half of the 2007-2015 presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but identifies the anti-industrial policies of Argentina’s last military dictatorship in 1976-83 as the main reason for the inexorable economic decline of the country during the last half-year. century.

Mr Kulfas is a strong supporter of a socio-economic pact aimed at reducing high levels of inflation, while supporting a recovery in real wages that have been eroded. He also promotes import substitution by developing industrial “clusters” that would add value to Argentina’s natural resources, and spoke out against the need to reform the Argentine labor market.

Mr Kulfas served as managing director of the central bank during Ms Fernández’s second term as president, after serving as director of the State Bank of the Argentine Nation, the largest in the country’s banking sector. Previously, he was undersecretary for small and medium-sized enterprises under the chairmanship of Néstor Kirchner.

Cecilia Todesca

Cecilia Todesca economist Argentina youtube grab

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Cecilia Todesca is another central member of the Callao group and worked alongside Mr Kulfas as chief of staff at the central bank during Ms Fernández’s second term as president.

A trained economist who also studied public administration at Columbia University in New York City, she also criticized the end of the Kirchner period. In particular, she opposed the excessive regulations put in place by Ms. Fernández, particularly on currency, preferring instead “measures to manage capital flows” as recommended by the IMF.

At the same time, it rejects the outgoing government’s disproportionate reliance on interest rates to control inflation. In a recent interview, she stressed that investments in Argentina are too low, while the country “desperately” needs to export more.

She is the adopted daughter of the Peronist head of the Argentine statistical agency, appointed by Mr. Macri. His biological father was killed in 1975 while fighting for the Montoneros, a left-wing urban guerrilla group.

Guillermo Nielsen

Guillermo Nielsen, who is part of Alberto Fernandez's economic team, is reportedly on his way to meet with the IMF delegation on August 26, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  (Photo by Carol Smiljan / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Guillermo Nielsen, 68, was Argentina’s finance secretary from 2002 to 2005, mainly under the government of Néstor Kirchner when Mr. Fernández was chief of staff, in the aftermath of the 2001 sovereign debt default. L One of the most orthodox economists on Mr. Fernández’s team, he played a leading role in the negotiations with the IMF that followed what was the biggest flaw in history at the time.

He strongly supports the development of the vast shale resources of Vaca Muerta in Argentina as a vital source of foreign exchange that can help fill the dollar shortage in Argentina. He told the Financial Times earlier this year: “Vaca Muerta is going to be a priority. Argentina must become, and can become, an oil and gas exporting country.

After leaving the Kirchner government, Mr. Nielsen was briefly Minister of Finance for the City of Buenos Aires – most recently running for mayor in 2015 – and Argentine Ambassador to Germany from 2008 to 2010.

Miguel ngel Pesce

Argentine Finance Minister Amado Boudou (right) and Argentine Central Bank Vice-Governor Miguel Angel Pesce arrive at the Élysée Palace for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on February 18, 2011 in Paris, as part of the Two-day meetings with the G20 Finance ministers and central bank governors, their first under French presidency, focused on securing common criteria for measuring global economic imbalances.  AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit to read LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP via Getty Images)

© AFP via Getty Images

Miguel Ángel Pesce, 57, has had a long but low-key career in the public sector. He was briefly governor of Argentina’s central bank in 2010 when the incumbent fell out with President Cristina Fernández.

A professor of economics at the University of Buenos Aires, he was vice-president of the monetary authority from 2004 to 2015 under four different governors, making him the longest-serving member of the central bank’s board in the volatile history of the country. Since then he has been president of the Tierra del Fuego Bank, living in the southern city of Ushuaia.

Mr. Pesce is an old friend of Mr. Fernández, who dates back to his time as the financial secretary of the city of Buenos Aires, when the elected president was a Peronist legislator of the city. When Mr. Fernández then became chief of staff to Néstor Kirchner in 2003, he appointed Mr. Pesce to various positions in the public sector before sending him to the central bank.

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