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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 22:37 GMT
Who next in Argentina after Cavallo?
Daniel Marx with Domingo Cavallo
Marx eyes up Cavallo in happier days
A mass exodus from Argentina's economy ministry, culminating in the resignation of the minister Domingo Cavallo and President de la Rua on Thursday, has left few contenders to manage the country's finances.

As the crisis deepened since his appointment in March, Mr Cavallo surrounded himself at the ministry with friends and supporters after opponents quit or were sidelined.

It's difficult to tell what's going on at the moment but devaluation and default have taken a step closer, we're nearer the abyss without a doubt

Mike Noone
His successor will be faced with the tricky task of finding a policy which pleases both ordinary Argentines and international investors.

Budget cuts to service the country's crippling $132bn foreign debt have not pleased international lenders or the rioting citizens of Argentina.

The new economy minister has three options; replace the peso with the US dollar, devalue the peso or do nothing.

Most analysts agreed there is really only one choice.

"It's difficult to tell what's going on at the moment but devaluation and default have taken a step closer, we're nearer the abyss without a doubt," said Mike Noone, Latin America analyst at WestLB.

Kiguel's legacy

The most likely candidate appears to be the newly appointed chief economic advisor Miguel Kiguel, who is respected by the financial markets and has close ties to the opposition Peronist party.

His predecessor Daniel Marx, Mr Cavallo's deputy who resigned last Friday, is also reportedly waiting for a tap on the shoulder.

Mr Kiguel served as finance minister during the 1990s rule of Peronist president Carlos Menem, under former economy minister Roque Fernandez.

Together they were strident critics of Mr Cavallo's policies when he was last economy minister in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

But serving then as Argentina's top finance official, he presided over a ballooning budget deficit which turned Argentina into the biggest borrower among the emerging markets, the cause of the current crisis.

Mr Kiguel joins the government from his present job as head of mortgage bank Banco Hipotecario, has close ties to foreign banks and international lenders and is known to favour Argentina adopting the dollar as the country's sole currency.

Marxist tactics

Meanwhile Mr Marx, who had a rocky relationship with Mr Cavallo, has agreed to stay on as a government adviser until a $46bn foreign debt swap is completed early next year.

His resignation was seen by some members of government as a shrewd move to succeed Mr Cavallo.

Other high profile resignations included the secretary of economic policy, Federico Sturzenegger and Hector Rodriguez, the director of the tax office.

They were replaced on Monday by Carlos Sanchez as secretary of economic policy, Guillermo Mondino as the new finance secretary, who joined another Cavallo confidante tax minister Armando Caro Figueroa.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Americas
Argentina plunges into turmoil
14 Dec 01 | Business
Argentina meets debt deadline
13 Dec 01 | Americas
Argentina delays pension payments
10 Dec 01 | Business
Argentina in new bid to cut debts
09 Dec 01 | Business
Argentina fails to win IMF reprieve
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