Argentina foibles (inflation, currency and potential anarcho-capitalist experiments)

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It's hard to tell exactly, but I think a lot of those "signs" are actually Argentine flags (the ones with blue and white anyways).
Two days ago we first posted a Youtube clip in which a Greek reporter asked Argentina's Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino a simple question: "what is inflation in Argentina" - a sensitive topic to a country with price and capital controls, and where inflation ranges between 0 and 20% depending on whether one uses official, or unofficial but based on reality, data. The result was a why we dubbed the clip "Thursday humor" as after several minutes of meandering gibberish, Lorenzino concluded by telling his aided that "he wants to leave", which in turn promptly became a twitter hashtag meme #mequieroir, in which the minister's response to a simple request for the truth was promptly lampooned around the world. However, that may have been just the beginning of Hernan's problems. As Bloomberg reports, citing Clarin, Argentina's president CFK, was also quite taken aback by the bumbling economist that she met with him subsequent to the interview going viral, and told him he has lost credibility and the most likely next step is his resignation.
A lot of U.S. dollars are tucked away somewhere in Argentina, most likely in stacks of $100 bills. Seven years ago, the U.S. Treasury, working with the Federal Reserve and the Secret Service, estimated that in the early 1990s Argentines held $20 billion in cash, a number that by 2006 had grown to “perhaps $50 billion or more.” That year there was a total of about $768 billion worth of dollar-denominated cash in the world, which means that someone in Argentina held at least one out of every 15 cash dollars.

How about now? The Fed is chary with its data releases. One table in a 2012 Fed paper on demand abroad for U.S. currency tells us that the annual net inflow of commercial shipments of bills denominated in dollars to Argentina and the former Soviet Union has increased since 2006 by 500 percent. In 2011, that growth rate stood at 48 percent, while total demand for U.S. currency, in America and abroad, has increased only about 10 percent. It’s unlikely that all of that growth came from the former Soviet Union alone; otherwise, why include Argentina at all? Demand for large dollar cash transfers to Argentina since 2006, then, has outstripped demand for dollar cash overall in the world.

So it seems safe to say that today Argentines hold probably well more than $50 billion, and well more than one in every 15 dollars. ...
Interesting way to defeat inflation...

"Curiously, even Cristina acknowledges that prices are way too high. But rather than rein in spending and stop the money printing, she’s digging her high heels in even further by launching a new clothing line.

This new brand– NYP (Nacional Y Popular) will be owned and run by the government, selling everything from jeans to shirts to shoes at prices below 100 pesos (less than $20 officially)."

Bad people are trying to sell excess wheat overseas instead of at the price controlled prices in Argentina:

"Argentina plans to apply a law that forces holders of wheat and flour suitable for bread making to sell stock on the domestic market in a bid to contain inflation."

"Argentina, the largest wheat producer in South America, has a domestic consumption of 6 million tons. The harvest in the 2012-2013 season was 9.8 million tons."

"Grocers agreed last month to freeze prices of 500 goods and ensure supply as part of the government’s efforts to stem inflation."

"While the national statistics agency said prices rose 10.3 percent in May from a year earlier, private economists estimated prices rose 23.4 percent in the same period."
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Thanks for the update Benjamen. What a mess.
I wonder whether the Argentine people are buying gold and silver as well...

I heard from media that Greeks, Japanese, Germans are hoarding gold.
I wonder whether the Argentine people are buying gold and silver as well...

I heard from media that Greeks, Japanese, Germans are hoarding gold.

The japanese have less than 1% of their assets in gold. So no.. Japan is not hording gold.
Japan is basically broke, and they appear to have a loyal population that keeps buying their own government debt despite the risk, so if that financial ship ever goes down, they are all going to go down together. If I were Japanese I would want to have some gold coins just in case Godzilla showed up in the harbor.

and Argentina is a mess
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Argentina devalued the peso the most in 12 years after the central bank scaled back its intervention in a bid to preserve international reserves that have fallen to a seven-year low.

The peso has plunged 12.7 percent over the last two days to 7.8825 per dollar at 3:45 p.m. in Buenos Aires, after falling to as low as 8.2435, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The decline in the peso marks a policy turn for Argentina, which had been selling dollars in the market to manage the foreign-exchange rate since abandoning a one-to-one peg with the U.S. dollar in 2002.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who said May 6 that the government wouldn’t devalue the peso, is struggling to hold onto dollar reserves which have fallen 31 percent to $29.4 billion amid annual inflation of more than 28 percent. Reserves are the government’s only source to pay foreign creditors. Since changing her economy minister, cabinet chief and the head of the central bank on Nov. 18, the peso has fallen 25 percent, the most in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“They’re running out of cash and they’re sitting in the corner at the moment,” Phillip Blackwood, who oversees $3.5 billion in emerging market assets as a managing partner at EM Quest Capital LLP, said in a phone interview from London. “There’s a feeling in the market that they’re not going to intervene any more.”

The tumble in the currency is the biggest since March 2002, the year the government abandoned a one-to-one peg with the U.S. dollar following a record $95 billion default.

Argentina is to relax its strict foreign exchange controls, a day after the peso suffered its steepest daily decline in 12 years.

Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said the country would reduce the tax rate on dollar purchases and allow the purchase of dollars for savings accounts.

The measures would take effect from Monday, he said.
Mr Capitanich said the government would reduce the tax rate on dollar purchases to 20% from the current 35%.

He said: "This decision reflects the government's belief that in the context of a floating exchange rate, the price of the currency - that is, the dollar - has reached an acceptable level for the objectives of economic policy."

BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker said: "Argentina seems to be moving towards a more flexible exchange rate system, which could mean further weakness for the peso.

"That would help the country's competitiveness, but the danger is that it could aggravate what is already a serous inflation problem."
When I look around at all of these "emerging" markets and the turmoil they are in, it becomes quite apparent that this whole "recovery" has been an artificial construct which is in rapid devolution as the world returns to its true equilibrium state.
Other shopkeepers chose not to wait to see the results of last week’s 15 percent depreciation, raising prices as much as 30 percent on appliances, electronics, wine and other goods that aren’t regulated by the government, while supermarkets seemed to abide by food-price accords reached earlier this month. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner left for Cuba over the weekend, days before the start of a regional summit, leaving top aides to try to contain price increases as investors raised bets on further declines in the peso.

“The first reaction has been a paralyzation of almost all the markets for goods and services tied to the official exchange rate,” Domingo Cavallo, who as economy minister in 1991 linked the peso to the dollar at one-to-one, said in a telephone interview from Cordoba, Argentina. “No one wants to sell merchandise at a price if they don’t know what the rate will be tomorrow.”

In his daily press briefing today, Capitanich said Argentine individuals who earn a monthly wage of 7,200 pesos ($900) or more will be allowed to buy dollars again starting today to build dollar savings. There will be a limit on these purchases of $2,000 per month, and they will be taxed at 20 percent unless kept in deposit for at least a year, according to a resolution on today’s official gazette.

Argentines had already been coping with annual inflation estimated at about 28 percent, the highest in Latin America after Venezuela, and currency controls that restricted access to dollars at the official exchange rate.

Via translation from Lanacion, please consider Credit Is More Expensive.
Following the peso devaluation and sharp hike in interest rates by the central bank, interest rates on loans increased as much as 11 percentage points.

For a personal loan, private banks now charging at least 44% per year. Factoring in fees and other administrative expenses (up to 11 percentage points), the total financial cost exceeds 65% annually.

Public banks have with nominal rates for personal loans in pesos that range from 32% to 44%, with a total financial cost up to 55% annually.

This seems to demonstrate what a huge risk it is to borrow big and hope that, with inflation, the loan becomes easy to repay.

Dan Ammerman (somehow I get a regular email ) reckons its a better way to go as you do not get taxed on the 'increase' in $ value of the property.

When interest rates go sky high, the default rate explodes and the poor old banks end up owning everything.

Ok I got away with it and was just about able to weather the 15% interest times but many were forced to walk away.

Argentina seems to be reaching LONG to screw itself. What, for about a week now there has been bad news from there nearly every day. Yet they keep voting these SOBs (well in her case that would be a DOB...) in, who are even worse than ours are.


I just got back from Costa Rica. I talked with EIGHT natives there (taxi drivers, shopkeepers, etc.) who told me business and the economy are BAD. I have been there about six times, and that is the first time I have heard that. Four of them told me that they blamed their Socialist president... A bit fewer tourists, but we saw plenty, all things considered.

I also talked with a few ex-pats there. They're not rockin'-and-rollin' either. But I did learn that they have my old friends the Black Widow spiders there (that's a long and nasty story...) as well as the famous "Fer de Lance" poisonous snake that I had previously thought was an Amazonian-only thing... The Fer de Lance is really bad, apparently you only have minutes to get to a hospital or you DIE!

And a guy I know sells capital equipment (pumps and machinery for chemical plants and similar) to LatAm. He told me the other day that almost every country is down in LatAm, the only exceptions being Peru and Colombia. Even Mighty Chile is just about even, not up nor down.


So, it's not just Argentina, but all kinds of places are not happy: Turkey, Brazil, India, Russia, Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain, France (?) and it looks like CHINA too.

Gold and CA$H. Simple!
Argentina's attempt to work around SCOTUS decision in favor of the 'holdouts' was rejected (under anti-evasion orders) last night leaving Argentina no alternative but to threaten to default on its debt. The government called it "impossible" to pay bond service due on June 30, because payment to holders of restructured bonds could not be made unless the 'holdouts' were paid $1.33 billion at the same time (and Argentina's economy minister argues could be up to $15 bn) which the distressed country clearly does not have. ... it seems increasingly likely that an even of default looms for Argentina.

I have now heard from one guy and read in another piece that Bitcoin is becoming popular in Argentina due to capital controls. Apparently there is a big premium to BTC price there vs. here.

Take enough, you could take that trip to Buenos Aires for free...
Argentina can't afford to pay the hold-outs without raiding pensions to do so. They have the other small problem of the other debt holders that accepted huge haircuts as well. If the hold-outs get paid dollar for dollar, there will be a rush on their treasury by everyone else that will then feel ripped off. The lawsuits will be epic in scale.

It's just like Obama ripping off the Delphi workers and leaving them without a pe4nsion or any other benefits while he made the unions at GM whole. What a crock of shit.
I'm not finding any reports in media, but I'm hearing through the grapevine of relatives that they are currently "enjoying" a bank holiday down there. No one has access to their accounts. I'll post more if I'm able to confirm this via any media.

Edit: This must be it:
Bank workers’ union La Bancaria confirmed yesterday banks will not be open to the public today and tomorrow due to a strike over wage negotiations. It will be an atypical week, as the strike follows yesterday’s national holiday.

There were concerns yesterday that no banks for the first three days of the week meant a rising risk of long queues and a possible lack of cash at some ATM machines. The strike’s organizers said the protest will be uninterrupted, suggesting cash machines will not be restocked.
* bump *

Just a few weeks after Argentina became ground zero for the coming Emerging Market crisis, when its currency suddenly collapsed at the end of April amid soaring inflation, exploding capital outflows and a central bank that was far behind the curve (as in "13% of rate hikes in a week" behind)...

... the IMF has officially bailed out the country - again - this time with a $50 billion, 36-month stand-by loan, and coming in about $10 billion more than rumored earlier in the week, it was the largest ever bailout loan in IMF history, meant to help restore investor confidence in a nation that, between its soaring external debt and current account deficit, prompted JPMorgan to suggest that along with Turkey, Argentina is in effect, doomed.


I had not really heard much about Argentina in my news radar for a good long time. Maybe I should have been paying more attention...
So while the Fed pulls $ from the rest of the world, the IMF has no problem bailing out those suffering from the consequences with more $ ?

Theres a lot of speculation regarding how $ shortages are effecting emerging market economies and yet I read earlier that the actual amount the Fed had 'quantitavely tightened' was a very small number .........
suggesting that it is not possible to tighten and $ printing is actually the only option ?
Argentina has hiked interest rates to 60% as it takes dramatic steps to restore confidence in its plunging currency,in the latest sign of turmoil among emerging market economies this year.

The Argentine central bank raised the cost of borrowing by 15 percentage points on Thursday in an attempt to shore up the peso, which has plummeted in value. The central bank said it would keep rates unchanged at 60% until at least December.

The peso dropped amid intense trading on foreign exchanges, falling by more than 10%, despite the bank’s rate move, in the most severe drop for the currency since it was floated in 2015. $1 (77p) is now worth about more than 39 pesos, having been worth about 18 pesos at the start of the year.

Paul Greer of the City fund manager Fidelity said countries across emerging markets were being targeted by investors due to their economic problems, including high levels of debt and imports. “There are no easy answers for Argentina to its current woes,” he said.
Having approached the International Monetary Fund for emergency support amid an unfolding economic crisis, Argentina asked the Washington-based lender of last resort earlier this week to accelerate the release of the money to bolster its finances.

Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, has said a lack of trust from the markets had forced him to ask for help as the peso weakens and inflation runs at 30%.

The country has asked to borrow $50bn from the IMF to restore confidence in its finances amid high levels of government debt in dollars, which have become more expensive to pay off as the dollar strengthens. While the move was designed to soothe investor concerns, the effect has been the opposite in the financial markets, triggering concerns about the country’s ability to pay its debts.

Despite the massive increase for interest rates to 60% – by comparison the cost of borrowing is as low as 0.75% in the UK – economists said Argentina may still require further government action to bring the crisis under control.

Edward Glossop of the research consultancy Capital Economics said Buenos Aires would need to give more details about how it planned to meet the targets for tax and spending set by the IMF. Latin America’s third biggest economy is forecast to shrink this year, while borrowing has become harder for firms in the country amid higher interest rates.

“Maintaining investor confidence from here will require help from the government, which has been largely unconvincing over the past few weeks,” Glossop said.
In a televised address earlier this week, President Mauricio Macri declared an economic emergency and announced a dramatic new set of austerity measures in a desperate bid to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to speed up the release of its previously agreed $50bn bailout loan - the largest in the IMF's history.

"What we have to face is a basic problem," Macri said, "which is that we cannot spend more than we have. This is not just another crisis. It has to be the last."

If Argentina's tumultuous economic history is anything to go by, however, this time is unlikely to be any different. In fact, Macri's keen embrace of the standard IMF recipe of far-reaching austerity only risks repeating the mistakes of the past - deepening the economic recession and leading to renewed social unrest, making further political turmoil all but inevitable.
Argentina's new central bank chief is considering raising reserve requirements and tightening how banks account for reserves to restrict money supply under a revised IMF deal signed this week with the aim of lowering inflation, local media reported on Friday.

Central bank Governor Guido Sandleris, appointed on Tuesday after his predecessor unexpectedly resigned, met with bank executives on Thursday to discuss raising reserve requirements but there is no date set for any announcement, newspapers Cronista and BAE reported, citing sources present in the meetings.

Sandleris announced on Wednesday that the central bank would target zero growth in the monetary base until June 2019 as part of the $57 billion financing deal with the International Monetary Fund, in addition to other measures to help stabilize consumer prices.

The central bank is also discussing a reduction in the amount of short-term debt, known as Lebac, allowed to replace hard cash in bank reserves, the reports said.

With interest rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve this year sucking dollars from emerging markets, Argentina has found itself at the center of a storm, as a drought unexpectedly tipped its economy into recession.

The peso has lost more than 50 percent of its value against the dollar this year as foreign investors fled amid concerns the government might be unable to service its debt next year.

Sandleris became central bank governor after his predecessor, Luis Caputo, resigned unexpectedly the day before the announcement of the revised financing agreement with IMF, the largest in the fund's history.

I imagine that it is not just coincidence that the former central bank governor quit the day before they reached a deal with the IMF. Argentina is deep in the (debt) shit.
The Argentine government under President Mauricio Macri will publish a decree that effectively prohibits private sector firings, Ambito Financiero reported Nov. 8.

Argentina is seeking a new currency swap deal with China that would add another 60 billion yuan (US$8.7 billion) to its reserves, as the Latin American nation tries to boost confidence in the peso amid an economic crisis in the region.
Since the IMF intervened, Argentina’s economy, heavily reliant on foreign, particularly dollar-denominated, funding is showing signs of improvement. The country’s current accounts are looking healthier and its central bank, the Banco Central de la Republica Argentina, seems to have a handle on its macroeconomic situation.

In late October, the IMF approved a loan expansion to $56.3 billion from $50 billion before, and said Argentina had passed its first economic performance review.

With the peso exchange rate still sitting at the lower range of the trading band that was agreed with the IMF, “we expect BCRA to buy dollar up to $150 million per day to avoid it dropping substantially below the band,” the analysts said.

The trading band was established to stem the peso’s aggressive selloff.

Oct. 26:
... So far, the Latin American country has drawn $20.4 billion. ...

So worst case, ~$36B / .15B = 240 payments - roughly enough for 1/3 of a year. ~$9B from China would add another 60 possible payments - still less than a year of cash burn. It doesn't appear that Argentina is experiencing a worst case right now as the peso is overvalued according to the marketwatch article, but if the Fed keeps raising rates, that will put the pressure back on.
Argentina assets tanked after a populist opposition candidate routed President Mauricio Macri in a shock primary election result.

The currency tumbled 15% to a record-low 53 per dollar, while the nation’s offshore notes collapsed, with the country’s 100-year bonds down almost 27% in New York to 54.66 cents on the dollar. Bond risk measured by five-year credit default swaps surged 808 basis points. An exchange-traded fund of Argentina stocks tumbled 22% in New York.

Opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, won by a much wider-than-expected margin over Macri, spooking investors who were already trimming exposure to Argentine assets as the Oct. 27 presidential election nears.


Seems like they are taking a step backwards.
The IMF delegates, who arrived in Argentina on Saturday and immediately began meetings with policy makers, face a tricky choice with unwelcome echoes from two decades ago: risk making the turmoil even worse by withholding a $5.3 billion installment due next month -– or cough it up, even though the program’s future looks highly uncertain.

Oh hey, I remember that can! I kicked it down the road a ways some time ago...
At midnight Saturday, after months of histrionics, the clock ran out on Argentina.

It had failed to put up the $500 million it owed foreign bondholders and, in so doing, had fallen into default for the ninth time in its history. It's a staggering number, putting the South American country in an elite league of serial defaulters that includes the likes of Ecuador, Uruguay and Turkey.

Well, it's not terribly surprising, is it? I wonder if this is going to trigger any CDS payouts.
new financial distancing rules apply ..........

There was talk of letting the 3rd world debtor states off and zeroing their debt cos they cannot pay the loans back or even service them.

Would this trigger CDS payouts ? Well the ISDA is now a more robust organisation ( since Leahman) apparently, so no worries and the amount outstanding is small beer for the printers

Perhaps Tedros could get a job there once the WHO has dumped him.
Contagion is impossible but all money must be put in a place of safety (-;
Argentina will present an amended bond restructuring offer to U.S. regulators on Thursday or Friday, a source at the economy ministry told Reuters on Monday, as the government pushes forward with restructuring about $65 billion in sovereign debt.
Argentina is facing a grim economic picture after defaulting on its sovereign bonds last month.

Gross domestic product is seen shrinking 9.5% in 2020, according to a poll of analysts by the central bank released on Friday, versus an estimated 7% decline in the bank's previous monthly survey, as activity gets walloped by a nationwide lockdown that started March 20 to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Striking a bond restructuring deal is key for the country to avoid years of legal battles with creditors and a potential shutout from global capital markets, as happened after a major default by the crisis-prone country in 2001.

$65B is about the size of the Fed's weekly balance sheet expansion these days. Crazy times...
Argentina said on Tuesday it had reached a deal with three creditor groups to restructure $65 billion in sovereign debt, potentially helping it climb out of a damaging default and revive the recession-hit economy.

Open the champagne! Problem solved! lololololo.
I reckon what we are seeing with all the money printing, is an awareness that the current fiat money system is broken and its all going to get wiped in a reset, so print to infinity while you can ........

Will it last beyond the election ?
If so, lets give everyone who votes 'correctly' a $million (-;

Will Argentina Ditch the Peso for the Dollar?​

June 8, 2023 at 6:00 AM EDT

The Argentine peso has had a tumultuous life. In the 1980s it was temporarily dethroned by a new currency called the austral. An arranged marriage with the dollar in 1991 produced some years of bliss but ended in a ruinous divorce. More recently, the peso has suffered the humiliation of being tagged the worst-performing currency in emerging markets.

Now an Argentine economist running for president is proposing to put the currency out of its misery once and for all. Javier Milei, who’s also a congressman, says that to quash triple-digit inflation, the nation should formally adopt the dollar. “The peso melts like ice in the Sahara Desert,” Milei likes to say, alluding to the currency’s rapid depreciation: It’s lost half of its value against the dollar just in the past year.

If Milei wins the presidency in October and follows through on his pledge, Argentina will become the largest economy to dollarize. Its gross domestic product is about five times that of Ecuador’s, which is the biggest among the seven sovereign nations that have embraced the greenback, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Read the rest:
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