Martínez de Hoz, José Alfredo (1925–)

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Martínez de Hoz, José Alfredo (1925–)

José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz (born August 13, 1925) served as Argentina's minister of economy from 1976 to 1981, during the Argentine military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla. He promoted the extensive transformation of the economy under a so-called liberal economic program, with highly negative consequences.

Martínez de Hoz was an attorney by profession and served as minister of economy for the province of Salta during the military dictatorship of 1955, and, in 1962, as secretary of agriculture during the interim administration of José María Guido (1962–1963). He served on the board of directors of several multinational companies and business associations and was president of Acindar Industria Argentina de Aceros (ACIN).

When the armed forces installed a new dictatorship in 1976, the military junta appointed Martínez de Hoz minister of the economy. His objective was to stabilize the economy, which was in deep crisis, and to end the model of state intervention and a semi-closed economy that had been in effect since the 1940s. The initial adjustment measures were ineffective, bringing real wages down by 40 percent. Martínez de Hoz promoted a rapid liberalization of financial markets as well as an unequal opening of the economy, but did not oppose the continual rise in public subsidies for certain large companies, military spending, and state company spending. This imbalance led to increasing public and private foreign debt.

The persistence of inflation spurred Martínez de Hoz to experiment with a system of scheduled devaluation known as la tablita that accumulated a phenomenal exchange delay and greatly encouraged financial speculation. Many small and medium-sized national companies went bankrupt, whereas a small group of large companies grew strong on the benefits of state subsidies. In 1981 Martínez de Hoz resigned his position, along with President Videla, leaving the economy on the edge of a massive crisis that struck almost immediately afterwards. Private foreign debt was taken over by the state and Argentina's democratically elected government inherited a practically shattered state.

Martínez de Hoz was tried for his participation in state terrorism during the dictatorship and for defrauding the state, but was pardoned in 1990 by President Carlos Saúl Menem.

See alsoArgentina: The Twentieth Century; Dirty War; Neoliberalism; Videla, Jorge Rafael.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cavarozzi, Marcelo. Autoritarismo y democracia, 1955–1996: La transición del estado al mercado en la Argentina. Buenos Aires: Ariel, 1997.

Gerchunoff, Pablo, and Lucas Llach. El ciclo de la ilusión y el desencanto: Un siglo de políticas económicas argentinas. Buenos Aires: Ariel, 1998.

Novaro, Marcos, and Vicente Palermo. La dictadura militar. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2003.

                                    Vicente Palermo

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