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Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz


Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz was an Argentine policy maker and executive, best known as the Minister of Economy under de facto President Jorge Rafael Videla between 1976 and 1981, during the military dictatorship that called itself the National Reorganization Process.

Martinez de Hoz, the scion of one Argentina's oldest cattle ranching families, was born in the then-agrarian northern province of Salta. Pursuing higher studies at the University of Cambridge, he returned and in 1955, following the coup against the populist Pres. Juan Peron, he was appointed his province's Minister of the Economy. Though democracy returned to Argentina three years later, the armed forces continued to exercise vetting power over most policy and in 1963, Martinez de Hoz became one of a series of conservative Argentine Economy Ministers during Jose Maria Guido's brief presidency (an interlude marked by squabbles among the military brass and recession).

A year into all this, the billion-dollar trade deficit had turned around and business investment had soared by about 25%; but, consumer spending remained weak (the shock might have been worse but for high savings rates) and despite this, inflation revived. Martinez de Hoz responded in June, 1977, with deregulation of the financial markets, removing checks on banks and transferring responsibility for any bad loans to the state, which took charge of their debt as needed. Short-term financial speculation flourished and budget deficits (increasingly "off the books") skyrocketed. Frequent wage freeze decrees continued to depress living standards generally and income inequality increased.

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