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Argentina: End of the road for central bank independence?

A semblance of calm has been restored to Argentina’s central bank following the resignation of its head, Martin Redrado, and the appointment of his replacement, Mercedes Marcó del Pont.

The drama surrounding Redrado – from his refusal to allow the government to claim $6.6 billion of the bank’s reserves, to president Cristina Kirchner’s decision to fire him, to his refusal to go and his reinstatement, to his eventual departure – has gripped the nation for the past three months.

Now, though, attention is turning to the new governor. In her first press conference, Marcó del Pont, who most recently ran state-owned Banco de la Nación, said that she was committed to maintaining Redrado’s policy of a managed floating exchange rate. Significantly, however, she declined to address the reserves issue specifically.

Analysts have given her appointment a lukewarm reception. "Many of her economic ideas are intertwined with political views and her political background is linked to the desarrollista [developmentalist] movement," say Guillermo Mondino and Sebastian Vargas, analysts at Barclays Capital. "In Argentina, this movement has been associated with import-substitution ideas – closed economy, an active role for the public sector in the corporate space in inducing economic activity and, more importantly, a conception of inflation as an outcome of the production process and of a struggle for the distribution of income.

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