Kirchner Tightens His Grip In Argentina

Argentina's business community fears that President N?stor Kirchner will increase his interference in the economy after appointing Felisa Miceli as Economy Minister. She is seen as politically weaker than her predecessor Roberto Lavagna, who resigned on Nov. 28 after policy disputes with Kirchner. A self-described "nationalist economist" who has headed state-owned Banco de la Naci?n since 2003, Miceli, 51, is expected to keep Kirchner's tight rein on tariffs charged by utility companies and back his tough line on business. As inflation has soared to 9.8% this year, Kirchner has accused utility and food companies of profiting at the expense of Argentina's poor.

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