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ECONOMY | 10-02-2019 09:42

After economic crisis, Macri gov't officials rebound at elite universities

Three former high-ranking officials of the Macri government are among the latest to score big academic roles.

It goes without saying that having formed part of the economic team that oversaw Argentina's worst crisis since 2001 is not the best bullet point for a résumé or CV.

But some former Macri government officials, who said goodbye to roles at the Treasury Ministry or Central Bank following the run on the currency in 2018, have been able to rebound in the academic world, where a few have even managed to score "promotions".

The most recent case was of Demian Reidel, former vice-governor of the Central Bank under ex governor Federico Stuzenegger. Last week, he was named researcher at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Sebastian Galiani, former number two to Nicolás Dujovne at the Treasury Ministry, returned to a similar post, as investigator and professor at the University of Maryland, where he recently presented a paper on populist propaganda which includes references to the controversial former Kirchner-era programme on public television 6-7-8.

Luciano Cohen, a former Economic Planning under secretary, announced recently his move to the Torcuato Di Tella University, in Buenos Aires, as a professor.

MOVING ON

Galiani suggested to this journalist that the frustration about the Macri government's handling of the economy boiled down to poor communication.

"President Macri will not only be the first non-Peronist president to finish his mandate, but the only one to continue into another. And it will be the first time a president fixes the Argentine economy. The problem is the debate in the media, which is based on the idea that what this government received from the previous one could be fixed quickly", he said.

In Maryland, Galiani has a life-long position as a professor in the economics department. He gives classes on economic development, among others. But his main role is as an investigator. In his paper on populist propaganda he studied the "dirty campaign carried out by the (Daniel) Scioli team in the 2015 run-off vote" against then-candidate Mauricio Macri.

In 2017, he left his family in the United States to take up the role alongside Dujovne. But his stay would not last long. A few month later, in April 2018, he announced he would quit, just as the financial crisis was warming up. He finally left in August.

For his part, Reidel was welcomed to the Central Bank as a perceived rising star of finance. With previous studies in the field of sciences (he studied psychics at the Balseiro Institute), Reidel had triumphed in Wall Street in the hedge fund business. When he returned to Argentina, he was charged with the role of orchestrating the country's rollback of currency controls, one of Macri's key campaign promises. He left in June last year, as Sturzenegger himself was on his way out.

In the meantime, Reidel has flirted with the media and even gave a TED talk to "pull apart" Argentina's reliance on cash. Now at Harvard, he has scored himself a prized role: as a senior investigator of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government in the John F. Kennedy School. He is the only Argentine in a team led by former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

Far from that level of glamour, Cohen abandoned the public sector in June last year, in the midst of the crisis, to return to the consultancy firm Elypsis. This academic year, he will leave the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) to take up a role at Torcuato Di Tella University, one of the universities with the most number of alumni in government roles.

This article was originally published in full in Spanish on Perfil.com

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Manuel Nieto

Manuel Nieto

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