Roberto Alemann

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Roberto Alemann
Minister of Economy of Argentina
In office
December 22, 1981 – June 30, 1982
President Leopoldo Galtieri
Preceded by Lorenzo Sigaut
Succeeded by José María Dagnino Pastore
Minister of the Economy
In office
April 26, 1961 – January 12, 1962
President Arturo Frondizi
Preceded by Álvaro Alsogaray
Succeeded by Carlos Coll Benegas
Personal details
Born (1922-12-22) December 22, 1922 (age 92)
Buenos Aires
Nationality Argentine
Alma mater University of Buenos Aires
Occupation Publisher and academic

Roberto Alemann (born December 22, 1922) is an Argentine lawyer, economist, publisher, and academic.[1]

Career[edit]

Alemann was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1922. His family, prominent German Argentines of Swiss extraction, had established the nation's premier German language daily, Argentinisches Tageblatt, in 1874. He graduated from the Buenos Aires National College in 1941, and from the University of Buenos Aires with a Law Degree in 1947. Alemann studied Economics at the University of Bern in 1947–48, and received a Doctorate in Social Sciences in 1952.[1] Opposed to the populist policies of President Juan Perón, he joined senior policy adviser Raúl Prebisch's team following the 1955 coup against Perón, and took part in negotiations leading to the first loans granted to the Argentine government by the Paris Club of multilateral creditors.

Alemann co-founded the Argentine Association of Political Economy in 1957. The group prioritized dealing with structural inflation over the monetarist approach favored by more conservative policy-makers, such as Economy Minister Álvaro Alsogaray, who was appointed to the post in 1959 without President Arturo Frondizi's support.[2] Frondizi, a proponent of developmentalism, opposed Alsogaray's austerity program, which brought down inflation, though at the cost of a severe recession in 1959. Alsogaray was replaced in April 1961 by Roberto Alemann. Alemann's structuralist approach complemented unofficial Frondizi point man Rogelio Frigerio's policies well, as both focused on correcting the adverse effects of financing increasingly costly machinery imports with raw material exports of declining value (a terms of trade problem common to developing countries), though conservative and military pressure resulted in his removal in January 1962.[3][4]

Following his ouster, Alemann returned to the private sector as a lobbyist for Swiss banking giant UBS, and was also, from 1964 to 1973, Professor of Economic Policy at his alma mater (authoring a textbook in 1970).[1] The right-wing economist appointed by a National Reorganization Process dictatorship installed in 1976, José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, implemented a sweeping program of financial deregulation and free trade which by 1981 collapsed under the weight of a US$37 billion foreign debt – most of it the result of a wave of private currency speculation and government military spending.[3][5] Alemann's brother, Juan Alemann, served as Treasury Secretary during the dictatorship, and was nearly killed by a bomb placed in his residence in 1979 by a Montoneros guerilla operative.[6]

Named Economy Minister by a new dictator, General Leopoldo Galtieri, in December 1981, Alemann departed from his expansionist policies of twenty years earlier and introduced his own austerity program: cuts in public sector spending, accelerated devaluation of the peso (which had already lost 75% of its value during 1981), and a mandatory wage freeze (amid 10% monthly inflation).[3][7] He also attempted to repair relations with the International Monetary Fund by proposing the privatization of an array of State enterprises, and elicited signals of support from the Reagan administration, but also triggered protest from labor unions, culminating in a massive, March 30, 1982, rally against Alemann by the General Confederation of Labour (Argentina) (CGT), then South America's largest trade union.[7]

Ultimately, Gatieri's invasion of the Falkland Islands, on April 2, derailed Alemann's rapproachment with U.S. and European creditors, and following Galtieri's defeat and subsequent resignation in June, Alemann was replaced; the economy, which had fallen 6% in 1981, fell by as much again in 1982 to its lowest level in a decade.[7] He retired from public service, devoting his time to the Tageblatt as managing editor,[8] and contributing occasional op ed columns in the centrist Clarín. Continuing to lecture on economic policy matters, the octogenarian was assaulted by opponents at least twice after 2002, though he suffered only minor injuries.[9]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Sistemas Económicos (1953), Buenos Aires: Arayú
  • Hacia una política de inversiones (1960), Buenos Aires: Selección Contable
  • Curso de Política Económica Argentina (1970–81), Buenos Aires: EUDEBA
  • Breve historia de la política económica argentina (1989), Buenos Aires: Claridad
  • Recordando a Kennedy (1996), Buenos Aires: Sudamericana

References[edit]