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Argentina Imposes Currency Controls

Argentina Imposes Currency Controls

Late on Friday, when we noted that according to Argentina’s next president, Alberto Fernandez, the country’s upcoming bond default, its 9th since declaring Independence, was the IMF’s fault as much as that of outgoing president Mauricio Macri, we pointed out that Buenos Aires has a more pressing problem: running out of money.

Specifically, we noted that “the central bank has spent close to $1.5 billion to meet rising demand for dollars since mid-August, or about 10% of its net foreign-currency reserves. Worse, according to calculations by First Geneva Capital Partners, Argentina will drain its net foreign currency reserves within the month if it continues spending dollars at the current rate.” “So”, we concluded, “Buenos Aires has a choice: watch as its currency becomes the next Bolivar, or run out of dollars in days.” 

Two days later Buenos Aires, still not quite sure which path to pursue, did the only thing it could do to avoid a full-blown financial collapse: impose capital controls, which “oddly enough” appears to be a now standard development almost every time the IMF comes in to “rescue” an insolvent nation. Incidentally, without those generous (and record) IMF loans, Argentina would have run out of reserves by now.

As Reuters reports, citing a decree published in an official bulletin on Sunday, the Argentine government authorized the central bank to restrict currency purchases. The decree includes major exporters, which will need permission from the central bank to access the FX market to purchase foreign currency and make transfers abroad. The central bank will also set a deadline for exporters to repatriate foreign currency.

Things went from terrible to even worse last week, when Argentina defaulted on creditors to local short-term debt on Wednesday, at which point Argentina also said it will ask holders of $50 billion of longer-term debt to accept a “voluntary reprofiling.” It also plans to renegotiate payments on nearly $50 billion it has borrowed from the International Monetary Fund.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Aug 13 – Argentina, Legarde and Europe

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Aug 13 – Argentina, Legarde and Europe


“I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, gonna join me a rock and roll band.…” 

Global Credibility Under Pressure – We’ve been Tangoed!

This morning’s headlines are screaming how Argentina and President Mauricio Macri have precipitated yet another crisis upon the stressed geopolitical battlefront…  Relax. We are more than used to dealing with Argentina defaults… But, its far more complex than that.  The latest Argentina Dance Macabre is all about Global Credibility.  It’s another Massive Fail! 

What does it say about the credibility of Global Institutions and Policy when Argentina’s whole market collapsed following a primary for an election in December?  Ex-IMF president, and soon to be head of the ECB, Christine Lagarde personally staked her support for President Mauricio Macri’s pro-market government when she steamrollered through the IMF’s biggest ever bailout of $56 billion for Argentina last year. 

It now looks an extremely poor call on Lagarde’s part.  Macri won a mere 32% of the vote, while former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won 47%.  Don’t Cry for Me Argentina indeed…  Domestic Argentine Politics have left the IMF looking stupid.

There are three major issues to consider here: 

First there is the absolute predictability of what’s just happened in Argentina: 

In return for the 2018 Bailout, the IMF demanded its usual pound of flesh policies: Austerity, Austerity and Austerity, spiced with inflation-targeted monetary policy, fiscal tightening, currency controls, and the keys to the Peso printing presses.  Give Lagarde some credit – she did give lip service to the people with a smattering of minor austerity mitigants in terms of gender equality and social provision.  But, essentially the IMF’s answer to yet another predictable Argentinian crisis was more of the same programme.  You know the definition of madness… 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Lesson Of Argentina: You Can’t Stabilize A Bankrupt Economy

The Lesson Of Argentina: You Can’t Stabilize A Bankrupt Economy

So the U.S. puts Republicans (the party of small government) in charge, and gets… trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see AND a revival of socialism among Democrats.

Scary as this may seem, the real (and even scarier) lesson is that it’s all inevitable: Beyond a certain level of indebtedness, even pro-business, sound money, small government leaders are powerless to stop the march to insolvency and currency crisis. 

The latest example is Argentina, which a few years ago elected a free-market president, only to see its debt explode and its currency crash. From Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

Argentine President’s Prospects Dim With Those of His Country’s Economy

Argentina’s assets took a beating Thursday amid President Mauricio Macri’s continuing struggle to tame rising prices and revive a shrinking economy, raising prospects that his left-wing predecessor could make a comeback in this year’s presidential election.

The peso lost more than 5% of its value against the dollar in early trading Thursday, before regaining some ground in the afternoon. Argentina is now the world’s second-riskiest borrower after crisis-hit Venezuela as indicated by credit default swaps, which are derivatives that pay holders when a borrower defaults on a debt payment.

Mr. Macri, who was elected in 2015 on promises to undo the interventionist policies of President Cristina Kirchner, announced new price controls last week to try to get Argentina’s inflation under control. Mr. Macri has failed during his administration to contain inflation, which has risen to a 12-month pace of almost 55% in March from 25% at the start of 2018.

Argentina inflation Argentina bankrupt

The move sparked criticism that the president was abandoning market-friendly policies for short-term electoral considerations as Argentines grow increasingly impatient with rising prices. It also underscored the possibility that Mr. Macri could lose October’s election, even if he faces the polarizing Mrs.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Argentine President Admits “More Poverty” To Come, Announces Price Controls, Higher Taxes, Smaller Govt

Having been told by The IMF that he must stop using their bailout funds to prop up his currency (which has been utterly futile), Argentine President Mauricio Macri addressed the troubled nation this morning to announce his plans to satisfy Christine Lagarde’s demands in order to receive the next tranche of bailout cash sooner.

Things have not worked out so well since The IMF “bailed them out”…

In his address, there was good news, bad news, and ugly news.

“Everyone has to make sacrifices,” Macri implored of his nation’s citizens – who have lost 50% of their wealth year-to-date due to the collapse of the peso, which he also attributes to being “exaggerated by Turkey and Brazil weakness.”

Having blamed “mostly external factors” for the collapse of the economy (not bingeing on too much dollar-denominated debt in order to manufacture a smoke-and-mirrors-based boom), Macri notes that investors “have started doubting” Argentina’s ability to function.

The Good News

Macri has promised to dramatically shrink the size of the government, eliminating several ministries entirely, adding that Argentina must “set a goal not to spend more than we have.”

The Bad News

In an effort to close its budget gap, Macri will raise taxes on its one positive economic attribute – its exporters.

The Ugly News

Amid the hyperinflationary regime shift that is occurring, Macri will resort to price controls of some essential foods. When has that ever ended well.

All of which, as Bloomberg notes, is intended to signal a shift in the government’s strategy as it heads into talks on Tuesday with the International Monetary Fund to speed up the disbursement of cash from a $50 billion credit line.

Macri is now caught between the ‘rock’ of pleasing investors by cutting spending, and the ‘hard place’ of ensuring that the belt-tightening of austerity doesn’t cause social upheaval ahead of next year’s election.

These measures, Macri warned “will lead to more poverty.”

For now, the peso is stable (modestly weaker)…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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