Tuesday, October 13, 2015


But not this one.  Jose Angel Gurria Trevino has been around for a long time.  From humble beginnings in the office of public credit in Mexico's Treasury department, he rose steadily in the ranks in the last third of the 20th century in important positions culminating with his appointment to the office of Minister of Finance.  During that period he managed to get paid three pensions at once but that unfortunate accounting oversight is a tale for a different time.

El Jeffe Intergalticos del Credico Publico as his colleagues used to call him (behind his back), is known to and by anyone who ever had anything to do with sovereign debt for the past 40 years.  He is very smart, a brilliant linguist (Spanish, English, French, Italian and God knows what else), charming as can be and an all-around fun guy to be with...or at least he used to be.  It's been awhile since those days for me.

Angel is probably at his last post as the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (although he would LOVE to be the head of the IMF but that's not going to happen) which provides him with an enormous budget to spend and a podium at which to speak for all occasions, at which disciplines Angel is superb. He's was always good for an interview and if you happened to be an attractive lady reporter, you could get a really good interview.  I'm told in this he hasn't changed a bit.

Anyway, the Angel gave a beaut of an interview to the Daily Telegraph the other day in Lima, Peru, the site of this year's fall IMF get-together (By the by, did you know it never rains in Lima?  Never).  I'm going to quote from the Telegraph a couple of Angel's comments from that interview.

Countries that say: I'll spend my way out of this third slump.  I say: no you won't because you've already done that and you ran out of space.  Now countries are trying to reduce the deficit and debt because that's a sign of vulnerability and the rating agencies are breathing down their neck...

We don't have room to inflate ourselves out of this one.  So we go back to the same issue: it's structural, structural, structural.

Germany modified it's labor laws 12 years ago, and it's reaping the benefits brilliantly and gallantly because of much better performance during the crisis.  Spain did it three years ago and they are reaping the benefits now.  Italy did it last month, and it will take a couple of years.

There was a lot more on various topics all quite interesting,  Angel in this case was speaking to the emerging markets and using the EU as an example but he was also expounding upon a learned belief that the old ways ain't gonna work no more and the very hard choices in fiscal, governmental and societal changes are going to have to be faced if there is to be any way out of this mess. Heard that any place else before?

Now before one thinks I'm getting a bit gushy over my old friend, the OECD is in the business of providing sovereigns with economic advice and structural adjustment and is working with Greece at this very moment.  Angel, who always had a firm grasp of who and what was important, would love to do more of this, ensuring his place among the financial leaders of out time.  Altruism may be the one English word he never learned.  But good on him.  It got it right this time, and I hope people were listening.  Better yet, I hope people start doing if that means hiring the old bugger, well, why not.

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