Friday, April 10, 2020

Martin Guzman, a disciple of Joseph Stiglitz at the bedside of Argentina

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Martin Guzman, February 12, in Buenos Aires. Juan Ignacio Roncoroni / EF / SIPA

Handshake, big smile, words of support … Classic, the photo reminds of another shot, but the protagonists have changed. Exit Christine Lagarde and Hernan Lacunza, former Argentine Minister of Economy. On the one hand, Kristalina Georgieva, new managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since the departure of the Frenchwoman, at the end of 2019. On the other, Martin Guzman, Minister of the Economy, appointed by the Argentine President, Alberto Fernandez , in power since December 10, 2019.

Like their predecessors, the two officials and their representatives are holding more meetings. At the Vatican in early February; in Riyadh, during the G20 with finance ministers and central bank governors on February 22 and 23; and in Washington, Monday, February 24. A privileged relationship with the IMF … and essential. Argentina wants to reschedule the reimbursement of $ 44 billion (40.6 billion euros) to the financial institution. The IMF has committed the largest loan in its history – $ 57 billion was planned, but Mr. Fernandez did not wish to receive the last installments – to help the country cope with the economic and social crisis which is overwhelming it since mid-2018, largely caused by the mismanagement of the liberal Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Argentina begins difficult debt renegotiation with IMF

The arrival of a new president, Peronist Alberto Fernandez, has reshuffled the relationship between Argentina and the IMF. The head of state made a bold choice by appointing Martin Guzman, 37, to carry out these delicate negotiations. During the weeks preceding his appointment, analysts had speculated on other names, evoking in particular that of Guillermo Nielsen, sexagenarian economist, former Secretary of State for Finance of Nestor Kirchner (1950-2010), president from 2003 to 2007 But, four days before his inauguration, Mr. Fernandez took everyone by surprise by appointing Martin Guzman, a young heterodox economist, disciple of the 2001 Nobel Prize, the American Joseph Stiglitz, completely unknown to the general public.

"The right person, at the right time, in the right place"

Originally from La Plata, a large city located fifty kilometers from Buenos Aires, in the north-east of the country, Martin Guzman obtained a master's degree in economics there, before leaving, in 2008, for the United States, to undertake a thesis at Brown University (Rhode Island). It was in the following years, in post-doctorate at Columbia University (New York), that he met, decisively, Joseph Stiglitz. The theories of the American economist, especially on the negative consequences of globalization, are particularly appreciated by Cristina Kirchner, the former Argentine president (2007-2015) and current vice-president of Alberto Fernandez. At Columbia, the two men are collaborating – already – on the issue of sovereign debt. In this context, Martin Guzman intervenes as an expert before the United States Congress on the subject of debt restructuring in Puerto Rico.

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