Emilio Ontiveros: 'Master of economics, wise man of life'

With the death of Emilio Ontiveros, a lucid spectator and a leading actor in the Spanish economic scene of democracy disappears. From his business activity in International Financial Analysts and his active presence in the media, Ontiveros was a 'rare bird' that perfectly combined theory, praxis and an enviable capacity for disclosure. His vision of his life was a curious one, a mixture of skepticism and passion that made him a multifaceted character. He was a sophisticated product of the Spain that made the Transition, of a tolerant and open generation far removed from the tense climate of this time. Most of the portrayals of Emilio will focus on his protean action in the world of academia and in business; in his books, articles, technical reports. However, one should look towards what could be called the moral architecture of the character or, as the British like to say, 'the character'. From that vantage point it is easy to understand, or at least try to, the richness of Ontiveros's personality, the texture of his temper, his sensitivity and his position in life. Emilio was, in Marañón's terminology, of a liberal nature. Although his conception of economic policy was that of a moderate social democrat, he had incorporated into his conception of the economy the contributions made by other schools of dismal science and was far from any dogmatic position. He was always ready to submit his positions to the critique of reason and fact. He had a temperament allergic to any sectarianism helped in this attitude by a fine sense of humor and irony. He loved discussion and intellectual debate in the manner of an old British Lord. He preferred influence to power and, although he was an advisor to princes, he did not succumb to the temptation to collect for himself or, better, to wear the imperial purple. His was a closeness-distance towards power derived from a deep ethical and aesthetic sense. He was close to the world of Spanish socialism but did not spare him criticism when it was necessary, as is reflected in his public positions in his technical work and, also, in the media. He said what he thought and never said what he didn't think. One of the basic traits of his character was his extreme generosity. Both at the University and at AFI, he was always looking for and promoting talent. It was possible to go to him for advice and other more prosaic things. Two generations of young economists received his support and, many of them, have had enormous academic and professional success inside and outside of Spain. Emilio was a teacher in the classic sense of the term, a wise man of the economy and, of something more important, of life. He was incapable of holding grudges and never had a memory for grievances. His commitment to his ideas, his deep sense of justice and his personal independence shielded him from servility and acrimony. Few public figures in this cainite and envious Spain have had as little rejection of his success as he has. He never allowed politics to disturb his personal relationships and he never succumbed to the temptation of vendetta when he had platforms from which it would have been very easy for him to satisfy her. A good man, an old-fashioned gentleman. When time passes and you begin to age, you look back and remember events, images and people that have left a mark on your existence. Ontiveros is one of them for those of us who had the honor of meeting him and treating him. If Heaven exists, Emilio will be in the neighborhood reserved for economists, where with a glass of red wine in hand he will be involved in the thousand and one unresolved controversies of that gloomy and, at the same time, luminous science. Meanwhile, his friends can only wait, knowing that we will never fill the enormous volume left by his absence.

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