We take certain liberties with this title: we realize that since one is dealing with human individuals, particularly human individuals stuck in an insolvent, soon to re-default nation, stupidity can never peak per se, as the next day will without doubt bring some peak-er instance of even more profound idiocy. However, at this particular moment, this may be it.
Argentina is a country re-entering crisis territory it knows too well. The country has defaulted on its sovereign debt three times in the past 32 years and looks poised to do so again soon.
Its currency, the peso, devalued by more than 20% in January alone. Inflation is currently running at 25%. Argentina’s budget deficit is exploding, and, based on credit default swap rates, the market is placing an 85% chance of a sovereign default within the next five years.
Want to know what it’s like living through a currency collapse? Argentina is providing us with a real-time window.
While we are sure it is a very sad coincidence, on the day when Argentina decrees limits on the FX positions banks can hold and the Argentine Central Bank’s reserves accounting is questioned publically, a massive fire – killing 9 people – has destroyed a warehouse archiving banking system documents. As The Washington Post reports, the fire at the Iron Mountain warehouse (which purportedly had multiple protections against fire, including advanced systems that can detect and quench flames without damaging important documents) took hours to control and the sprawling building appeared to be ruined. The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear – though we suggest smelling Fernandez’ hands…
A few days ago, in the aftermath of Argentina’s shocking devaluation announcement, we showed the one most important chart for the future of that country’s economy: the correlation between the value of the Arg Peso and the amount of Central Bank foreign reserves, both crashing. And as we predicted when we, before anyone else, started our countdown of Argentina’s reserves, once the number hits zero it’s game over for the Latin American country. Or rather, game over again, considering the number of times in the past Argentina has defaulted. Unfortunately over the past week, things for the Central Bank have gone from bad to worse and were capped overnight with the following headline:
ARGENTINE CENTRAL BANK SAYS RESERVES FELL $170M TO 28.1B TODAY
To summarize: Argentina has now burned through $2 billion in less than two weeks, the fastest outflow since 2006, and a trend which if sustained (and we see no reason why it would change), means it has just over half a year left of reserves projecting a linear decline. However, since the lower the amount of reserves, the faster the withdrawals will come, it is safe to predict that the endgame for Argentina will come far sooner, just as its suddenly crashing bonds seem to have realized. Continue reading »
With Argentina’s black-market peso (blue dolar rate) trading over 12, it would appear that the market is rapidly realizing the Central Bank’s ammunition in its currency defense is likely to run out sooner rather than later. Perhaps it is time to get out that Soros’ British Pound playbook?
Argentina scrapped some of its currency controls a day after devaluing the peso as policy makers sought to stem a financial crisis and restore investor confidence by reversing measures that drove foreign reserves to a seven-year low.
Bonds fell and the cost to insure the South American nation’s debt against default soared to a three-month high as traders bet the move could backfire and lead to further dollar outflows. The peso dropped 1.5 percent to 8.0014 per dollar at 3:34 p.m. in Buenos Aires, extending its plunge this week to 15 percent, the worst selloff since a devaluation that followed the country’s record sovereign default in 2001.
The two worst terror attacks in Argentine history occurred in 1992 and 1994: the bombings of first Israel’s Embassy and then the AMIA Jewish Mutual building.
Two decades on, no one knows who was responsible forthese horrendous attacks that killed almost 200. Now, a former Israeli Ambassador’s explosive declarations shed new light on what were probably two Zionist-sponsored False Flag attacks.
Israel’s former ambassador to Argentina from 1993 to 2000, Itzhak Aviran revealed on 2nd January that Israeli agents had already sent most of the terrorists responsible for the 1994 attack against the AMIA building “to the other world”. The AMIA Mutual building also housed the powerful DAIA – Delegation of Israeli Associations in Argentina – pro-Israel lobby. In his own words:“those who perpetrated the terror attack against the AMIA building have been dispatched to the other world. We (Israel) did that!”.
1) Politicians believe there are no consequences for destroying our liberty…
Stimulus and response. That’s the easiest way of summing this up. When politicians steal, and there are no consequences, they’re going to keep stealing.
Cyprus proved this point handily. The government froze bank accounts for everyone in the country (of course, the big bosses got their money out in time). And yet, there was no violent revolution in the streets. People just accepted it.
Poland nationalized pensions. Argentina imposed severe capital controls. The French are taxing everything under the sun. The US government was caught red-handed spying on… everyone.
One month after Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty and just a few days after 50 U.S. senators said they will not ratify the agreement, a curious “high level panel” on Argentina’s national program for the voluntary surrender of firearms is scheduled this Thursday in a U.N. conference room in New York, Examiner learned today.
Apparently hosted by Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval, permanent representative of Argentina to the U.N., according to the invitation obtained by this column, the gathering was described as a “side event” scheduled during the daily lunch break, from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m.
Last year, according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, Argentina authorities destroyed nearly 11,000 firearms that had been voluntarily turned in. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, now recovering from serious surgery, spoke last month at the U.N.
Two years ago, the UK dismantled their national ID scheme and shredded their National Identity Registry in response to great public outcry over the privacy-invasive program. Unfortunately privacy protections have been less rosy elsewhere. In Argentina, the national ID fight was lost some time ago. A law enacted during the military dictatorship forced all individuals to obtain a government-mandated ID. Now, they are in the process of enhancing its mandatory National Registry of Persons (RENAPER) with biometric data such as fingerprints and digitized faces. The government plans to repurpose this database in order to facilitate “easyaccess” to law enforcement by merging this data into a new, security-focused integrated system. This raises the specter of mass surveillance, as Argentinean law enforcement will have access to mass repositories of citizen information and be able to leverage existing facial recognition and fingerprint matching technologies in order to identify any citizen anywhere.
- From the EFF’s must read article: Biometrics in Argentina: Mass Surveillance as a State Policy
The above passage was written in early 2012, but I had never taken the time to look into Argentina’s burgeoning and extremely creepy biometric database until now. It takes on increased importance to Americans now that Apple has rolled out its iPhone 5NsA.
Don’t worry though, Apple is a private company and they’d never work with the NSA or anything…
The video below is the promotional video of the Biometric ID Database in Argentina, and is an epic example of state propaganda.
Because the Argentine government has such a storied history of doing the right thing…In Liberty,
“They have taken the bridge and the second hall. We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes, drums… drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow lurks in the dark. We can not get out… they are coming.” - Gandalf (reading)
Another of history’s many lessons is that governments under pressure become thieves. And today’s governments are under a lot of pressure.
Before we look at the coming wave of asset confiscations, let’s stroll through some notable episodes of the past, just to make the point that government theft of private wealth is actually pretty common. Continue reading »
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 8 2013 (IPS) – Disillusioned with an economy that promotes individualism and ruthless consumption, thousands of people in Argentina are giving things away in street markets, organising car pools with strangers or offering free accommodation to travellers from abroad.
These are early trends in this South American country, but they are expanding, based on Web 2.0 platforms. Users share a concern for the environment and a rejection of consumerism. But they also have a desire to strengthen a sense of community and trust.
“We need much less than we consume. The basis of our street markets is detachment, the need to free ourselves from the concept of private ownership,” said Ariel Rodríguez, the creator of La Gratiferia (The Free Market) which operates under the slogan: “Bring what you want (or nothing), take what you want (or nothing).”
Back in April, we saw that merely asking the local economy minister what Argentina’s rate of inflation is, was enough to prematurely terminate any interview and result in a mocking, viral twitter meme. Since then, things for Argentina haven’t exactly worked out too well: a recent Appeals court ruling found in favor of Elliott and the holdout bondholders, resulting in a downgrade of the country to CCC+, and leaving it with the possibility of having to fund billions in deferred obligations. “The lawsuit could result in the interruption of payments on bonds currently under New York jurisdiction, or it could prompt Argentina to undertake a debt exchange that we could view as distressed,” S&P said in the statement. “There is at least a one-in-three chance of either occurring within the coming 12 months.”
Of course, to many the fact that Argentina has still not redefaulted is even more surprising. The reason for that is that despite president Fernandez ongoing rose-colored glasses PR campaign, the domestic economy has been deteriorating at an accelerating pace with runaway inflation destroying local purchasing power for years. As a result of the ongoing authoritarian crackdown on not only individual liberties, but economic data, it has gotten to the point that the government is criminally prosecuting anyone who dares to publish independent inflation data.
False anti-Iranian accusations persist. They’re longstanding. Claims about alleged nuclear bomb development don’t wash. Nor do well publicized terror attack charges.
The Islamic Republic’s maliciously vilified. False accusations follow earlier ones. A disturbing pattern repeats. Iran’s sovereignty is challenged. Its independence is threatened.
Washington wants pro-Western stooges everywhere. It wants rival states eliminated. It wants unchallenged global dominance. Everything’s fair game to achieve it. Duplicitous misinformation proliferates.
BARCELONA — Sustainable entrepreneurship — a buzzword in an increasingly eco-conscious business world — is often described as a balance between profit and environmental impact.
It’s a subject that Douglas Tompkins seems to have thought a lot about. He founded Esprit and The North Face, two of America’s most iconic clothing and fashion brands, only to quit the business world to become a staunch conservationalist, environmentalist and critic.
“Remove ‘sustainable’ from your dictionary, there is no sustainable business. Only biological sustainability counts,” he told a room full of business students at the IESE business school Doing Great and Doing Good conference on responsible business. (Disclosure: I moderated a panel at the same conference).
“Economic activity has impact and we are just now doing a better job of measuring what those impacts are,” said Mr. Tompkins in an interview.
A strict conservationalist, he rejects the idea that big business can reform itself and thinks the answer lies outside what he calls the “techno-industrial culture.” He thinks measuring biodiversity is a yardstick for how society is doing.
“Healthy biodiversity is at the base of everything,” he said, with species extinction being the ultimate catastrophe. “We’ll be living on a sand heap with a Norwegian rat and a few cockroaches at the end.”
Despite having co-founded ESPRIT, the multinational clothing giant, and The North Face, the maker of outdoor equipment, in the 1960s and having earned millions of the sale of the former, Mr. Tompkins is critical of business’s paradigms.
“We have an economy that’s based on growth without limits,” he said. “How is that possible?”
“To grow and grow and grow without limits is out of the question,” he said.
Even the companies that he is famous for launching do not escape his disapproval.
On December 1, 2001, Argentina’s economy was in trouble. Unemployment was high, debt was high, and recession had taken hold. But life was somewhat ‘normal’.
Basic services still functioned. And no one had to really worry about… food. Or water. Then it all changed. Literally within a day.
On December 2nd, our bankrupt government imposed measures that essentially froze everyone’s bank accounts. You can just imagine– one day having access to your funds, and the next day being completely cut off.
Within a matter of days, people were out in the streets doing battle with the police. The government soon defaulted on its debt, and the currency went into freefall.
I was doing some post-graduate work in Boston at the time. As a foreigner in the US, I wasn’t really able to work… so I was living on a tight budget from my savings.
Yet, overnight, I went from being able to pay my rent and living expenses to being completely cut off from my funds. I had nothing.
But when I spoke to my family back in Argentina, I realized that they had it even worse.
Everything became scarce. The electricity went out all the time. Even food on the grocery store shelves ran low. You would eat what you had available at home.
“It is like a textbook case in government gone mad.
They have stolen the retirement accounts, devalued the currency, and put capital controls in place. There are trade controls so that people can’t import necessities into the country, but instead, have to manufacture them locally, with the government giving monopolies to their friends. They have price controls, which force the local supermarkets to not raise their prices. This will ultimately lead to shortages. And there are already shortages of certain items. They didn’t like an opposition newspaper, so they nationalized the newsprint manufacturing industry. In fact, just about every single thing that you could do to screw up a country, they have done. It is comical to see the extremes they have gone to. For example, in Argentina, if you publish an inflation statistic that differs from of the official government numbers, you could be hit with a $100,000 fine. I had never heard of this anywhere else – except maybe in communist Russia. They are really completely out of control and the country is spinning off into la-la-land.”
Nick Giambruno: Joining me now is David Galland, the managing director of Casey Research. His internationalization story, which involved moving his life and his family from the US to Argentina, was recently featured in Internationalize Your Assets, a free online video from Casey Research. He is perfectly suited to help us better understand some of the important lessons in internationalization that Argentina offers. Welcome, David.
David Galland: Nice to be here.
Nick: First, why don’t you give us a little background about the Argentine people and how they have learned to deal with their government and recurring financial crises? Continue reading »
I have a neat little app on my smartphone that I like to look at when I’m feeling bored. It won’t change anything in my life, but it makes me think as I see the numbers clocking up, and then suddenly stopping for a few seconds. It’s the app that tells me the how much the National Debt of each country stands at in real-time. As I sit down at my computer screen the USA National Debt amounts to $17 041 241 xxx xxx. Forgive the x’s…they’re not kisses…I tried to get the last six digits, but, there’s no point, they’re moving too fast! Speedie Gonzalez has got into that app! It works out to $54 087 per person. That’s the same value as 3 408 248 816 XXX Big Mac Meals.
Inflation is hot property today, hyperinflation is even hotter! We think we are modern, contemporary, smart and ready to deal with anything. We’ve got that seen-it-all-before, been-there-done-it attitude. But, we are not a patch on what some countries have been through in the worst cases of hyperinflation in history. Here’s the top 10 list of worst cases in history. We’ll start with the worst first…let’s think positive! Continue reading »
The issue of inflation is complex everywhere. Official rates are disputed. People can’t reconcile them with what they see at the store. There are different formulas and data sets, resulting in different rates, and everyone picks and chooses what suits their needs. But nowhere is the issue as “complex,” infested with lies, and shrouded in obscurity as in Argentina.
With the shadow (or blue) market for Argentina Pesos already devalued by an incredible 50%, it is little surprise that the population is bidding for any store of value. Demand for luxury cars is soaring (BMW sales up 30% in the last 20 months) and Bitcoin activity is often discussed as the population transfer increasingly worthless Pesos into a fungible “currency” or domestic CPI protection; but it is USD that are the most-cherished item (despite a ban on buying USD) as hyperinflation hedges. But as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, a lot of US Dollar bills are tucked away somewhere in Argentina (in stacks of $100 bills since the number in circulation has risen from 58% of the total to 62% since 2008). One table is a 2012 Fed paper on demand abroad for US currency shows net inflows to Russia and Argentina has increased by 500% since 2006 (compared to US demand up around 10%). In fact, demand for large dollar transfers to Argentina since 2006 has outstripped demand for dollar cash overall in the world. It is safe to surmise from the data (that is relatively well guarded by the government) that over $50bn is being hoarded in Argentina (or well over one in every fifteen dollars). It is little wonder that the government is furiously digging at the country’s undeclared (stashed under the mattress) wealth. Continue reading »
While Argentina’s recent extraordinary attempts at central planning have been widely documented, ranging from freezing supermarket prices in a (failed) attempt to control inflation, to banning advertising in a (failed) attempt to weaken the private media, so far nothing has worked at stabilizing the economy and preventing the collapse in the domestic currency (if leading to such humorous viral videos as #mequieroir). Ironically, this is both good and bad news. It is good news because as we showed two days ago, even the ludicrous speed rise in the Nikkei has been a snail’s pace compared to that other unknown “Nation 1.” We can now reveal that while Japan is Nation 2, Nation 1 is that inflationary basket case Argentina, and specifically its Merval stock index. Continue reading »
The Cyprus 2013, like any other event, can be thought in political and economic terms.
Political analysis: Two dimensions
Politically, I can see two dimensions. The first dimension belongs to the geopolitical history of the region, with the addition of the recently discovered natural gas reserves. The historical relevance goes as far back as 1853, the year the Crimean War began. The Crimean War took place in the adjacent Black Sea, but the political interest was the same: To avoid the expansion of Russia into the Mediterranean. The relevance of this episode was the break-up of the balance of power established after the Napoleonic Wars, with the Congress of Vienna, in 1815. From then on, a whole new series of unexpected events would lead to a weaker France, a stronger Prussia, new alliances and a final resolution sixty years later: World War I. It is within this same framework that I see Cyprus 2013 as a very relevant political event: Should Russia eventually obtain a bailout of Cyprus (as I write, this does not seem likely) against a pledge on the natural gas reserves or a naval base, a new balance of power will have been drafted in the region, with Israel as the biggest loser.