The man who is helping President Calderon steer Latin America's second-largest economy.
BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
Agustin Carstens, Mexico's Finance Minister, is a busy man these days. Last week he spent the first part trying to calm markets that revised inflation figures were nothing to worry about. The second half of the week he spent assisting his boss, President Felipe Calderon, tackle the aftermath of the floods that hit Tabasco state and caused more than $500 million in damages to local agriculture.
On Thursday, for example, he went straight from working on emergency relief for Tabasco to an Inter-American Dialogue dinner with corporate executives in Miami. He only arrived slightly delayed thanks to a private jet (and a little VIP treatment at Miami International Airport, otherwise known as a bottleneck for most executives). Despite the emergency, President Calderon insisted Carstens make the trip, he told the group. He then proceeded to give what attendees said was a brilliant overview of the Mexican economy. He also answered all questions in a frank style.
It's exactly that combination of brilliant analysis and low-key presentation which has earned Carstens widespread praise from foreign investors and international economists. "He's a brilliant economist that mixes very well the theoretical or conceptual framework and the practical aspect of macro economics," says Claudio Loser, a visiting senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue and the former head of the Western Hemisphere department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Despite his current power and impressive background, Carstens also surprises many with his down-to-earth humble ways. "He is...