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Weekend roundup: Brito tragedy, Yellen and soybean

The owner of the Macro bank died Friday on a helicopter accident

By | [email protected] | November 24, 2020 12:04am

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-News over the weekend was dominated by the tragic death of businessman Jorge Brito in a helicopter accident in Cabra Corral, Salta Province. Brito was a massively influential banker in Argentina, owner of the largest private national bank (Macro), with interests in finance, politics, energy, real estate and agribusiness. His death came after his Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil got tangled with a zip line used by tourists who visit the Juramento River, in an accident that also took the life of his (co)pilot, Santiago Beaudean.

President Alberto Fernández and close friend and ally Sergio Massa were among the many paying their respects to Brito on the day of the news, despite the recent confrontation with the head of state over the one-time special wealth-tax, which had Brito as one of its most vociferous opponents, predicting it would launch an “unprecedented fiscal rebellion“. For Massa, Brito was a central supporter, and an exception during the 2015 presidential campaign in which most among Argentina’s business elite put their weight behind eventual winner Mauricio Macri, with Brito backing Massa’s ultimately third-placed bid instead.

Brito will be replaced at the helm of Banco Macro by Ezequiel Carballo, who was already in charge of running most of the bank’s day-to-day operations.

-With Donald Trump seemingly waving the white flag in his efforts to challenge Joe Biden’s presidential victory in court, all the focus in the United States is now on who will occupy the key positions in the new administration. The Treasury, reports yesterday said, will go to former US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán was quick to join mentor Joseph Stiglitz in congratulating her for the news.

According to La Nación, Yellen’s designation was welcomed in Argentina’s Casa Rosada, as they see her as relatively more dovish and sensitive of the country’s problems than potential alternatives closer to Wall Street. Infobae had another interesting tidbit on the nomination: Stiglitz’s nobel price came after research co-authored with George Akerlof, Yellen’s husband, which is probably why Argentina felt so confident in congratulating Yellen before the news was made official, given Stiglitz significant behind-the-scenes role in Guzmán’s latest international negotiations.

-The latest estimates from Rosario’s Board of Trade expect that, despite a slowdown in production, Argentina’s agricultural harvest for 2021 will yield record results when measured in US dollars. The total value of the harvest will surge to USD 24.3 billion, 43 percent above the poor figures seen in 2019/2020, and beating the record of 2013/2014 by a couple of billion, as soybean prices continue to rise in Chicago’s future markets, adding oxygen to the tight economic situation that the country faces.