Looking for Dollars

Argentina famously employs 'dollar-sniffing' dogs at its borders to keep its citizens from getting their savings out of the hands of the domestic kleptocracy to a safe haven. After years of soaring inflation, the black market rate of the peso has fallen to about half the official rate. As a result, rumors of an imminent devaluation are growing more pronounced of late.

In a new gambit to get hold of more foreign exchange, Argentina's government is offering people who bring undeclared dollars home an amnesty. This is almost like saying: 'please bring the stuff back for us to steal'. It probably won't work.

 

In fact, given the strenuous denials by the government, which insists that there will never – honest injun! – be a devaluation of the peso, it is almost certain that it will be devalued, based on the 'never believe anything until it's been officially denied' principle. In typical government fashion, fingers are wagged in the direction of 'those who want to profit from a devaluation', i.e., it's all the fault of evil speculators.

Meanwhile, president Fernandez-Kirchner has become tainted by a growing scandal over a close friend of her family who apparently shipped dollars out of Argentina by the plane load. As a result, her government is threatened by new political competition from the left (just what Argentina urgently needs: more socialism!).

Here are excerpts from a recent article describing the situation:

 

 

“Argentina's government announced new measures on Tuesday intended to suck up undeclared dollars in response to growing pressure to abruptly devalue the nation's currency.

Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino said the new tax-free bonds and certificates of deposit will pull into the banking system the foreign currencies that Argentines have hidden under mattresses and spirited out to illegal tax havens. Both measures are being sent to congress for approval, presumably because enabling people to declare cash without paying criminal penalties requires the force of law.

Argentines will need to deposit these undeclared dollars at the Central Bank, which will issue CDs for the entire amounts, Central Bank President Mercedes Marco del Pont said. The bonds will pay 4 percent interest through 2017, Lorenzino said.

The money will be used to finance energy and home construction projects, generating jobs and stimulating the economy. Both sectors have stalled, in part because speculation about future inflation and a possible devaluation has made long-term investments in Argentina too risky.

[…]

A closely watched sign of the country's economic future is the illegal currency market, where Argentines are increasingly desperate to ditch their pesos as inflation climbs above 25 percent a year. Amid fears of a potential currency shock, they're now trading nearly 10 pesos for each dollar — close to half the official value of 5.2.

This "blue dollar" trading remains marginal compared to the overall economy, but it's a free market, stubbornly beyond the government's control, and as such, it's increasingly being looked at by Argentines trying to protect their pocketbooks. The central bank periodically releases dollars to rein it in, but that's risky as well, now that Argentina's reserves have dropped by more than 20 percent, to $39.75 billion.

[…]

Fernandez waved away the trouble in a speech at the Casa Rosada government house Monday night. "Those who want to make money at the cost of a devaluation that the people will have to pay for will have to wait for another government," she declared.

 

(emphasis added)

It should be noted that the energy sector has also 'stalled' because the government nationalized YPF Repsol, staffing it with its cronies.

Meanwhile, the growing scandal around businessman Lazaro Baez is proving very uncomfortable for Fernandez-Kirchner. While her popularity dwindles, the prosecutor of the case is receiving death threats:

 

"They're raising this idea again because an election period is approaching," she added. "Every time there's an election, on side there's the economy and on the other, the scandals. It's typical of every election."

That brief reference to scandals was her first comment yet about allegations that Baez had used his access to the presidential couple to make huge profits that he laundered by having aides fly the cash out of the country in mysterious trips on private planes. The allegations, made by former Baez associates in televised interviews with investigative journalist Jorge Lanata, have made for sensational television in Argentina, and a judge agreed to open a formal investigation of Baez and his associates.

Lanata struck closer still to the president on Sunday night, interviewing Kirchner's former secretary, Miriam Quiroga, who described bags full of cash in the Casa Rosada. She said they were delivered to the southern province of Santa Cruz, where Baez based his business empire and the Kirchners have several homes. Quiroga also alleged that the Kirchners had vaults built to hold the cash.

Judge Julian Ercolini subpoenaed Quiroga to testify in the widening criminal investigation by prosecutor Guillermo Marijuan, and Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbo ordered additional police protection for the prosecutor, who reported receiving at least two threats that his young daughters will be killed if he doesn't drop the probe.”

 

(emphasis added)

Meanwhile, former Kirchner ally, union leader Hugo Moyano, has become a big critic of the president and has founded a new leftist party to challenge her. Argentina's unions are quite powerful – they have regularly demanded and received huge wage increases that indirectly confirm that the country's inflation rate is far higher than officially reported.

 

Conclusion:

Argentina was once the 5th richest country on earth in terms of per capita GDP. It is richly endowed with natural resources, but things have been going wrong for quite some time now. Looking at Mrs. Fernandez-Kirchner's opposition, that seems unlikely to change. Under Fernandez-Kirchner's rule, with the able assistance of her Yale-educated central bank chief Mercedes dela Pont (who once opined that her money printing was not to blame for soaring prices in Argentina), the peso has been in free-fall anyway, so 'those waiting for devaluation' probably won't have very long to wait (timing-wise, the day after the coming election can be tentatively penciled in for the next big lurch lower).

 


 

Argentine Peso

The Argentine Peso vs. the US dollar over the past decade, official rate – via XE.com, click to enlarge.

 


 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Trade War Game On!
      Interesting Times Arrive “Things sure are getting exciting again, ain’t they?”  The remark was made by a colleague on Tuesday morning, as we stepped off the elevator to grab a cup of coffee.   Ancient Chinese curse alert... [PT]   “One moment markets are gorging on financial slop like fat pigs in mud.  The next they’re collectively vomiting on themselves. I’ll tell you one thing.  President Trump’s trade war with China won’t end well.  I mean, come...
  • The Dollar Cancer and the Gold Cure
      The Long Run is Here The dollar is failing. Millions of people can see at least some of the major signs, such as the collapse of interest rates, record high number of people not counted in the workforce, and debt rising from already-unpayable levels at an accelerating rate.   Total US credit market debt has hit a new high of $68.6 trillion at the end of 2017. That's up from $22.3 trillion a mere 20 years ago. It's a fairly good bet this isn't sustainable....
  • US Stock Market: Happy Days Are Here Again? Not so Fast...
      A “Typical” Correction? A Narrative Fail May Be in Store Obviously, assorted crash analogs have by now gone out of the window – we already noted that the market was late if it was to continue to mimic them, as the decline would have had to accelerate in the last week of March to remain in compliance with the “official time table”. Of course crashes are always very low probability events – but there are occasions when they have a higher probability than otherwise, and we will...
  • Rise of the Japanese Androids
      Good Intentions One of the unspoken delights in life is the rich satisfaction that comes with bearing witness to the spectacular failure of an offensive and unjust system. This week served up a lavish plate of delicious appetizers with both a style and refinement that’s ordinarily reserved for a competitive speed eating contest. What a remarkable time to be alive.   It seemed a good idea at first... [PT]   Many thrilling stories of doom and gloom were published...
  • Claudio Grass on Cryptocurrencies and Gold – An X22 Report Interview
       The Global Community is Unhappy With the Monetary System, Change is Coming Our friend Claudio Grass of Precious Metal Advisory Switzerland was recently interviewed by the X22 Report on cryptocurrencies and gold. He offers interesting perspectives on cryptocurrencies, bringing them into context with Hayek's idea of the denationalization of money. The connection is that they have originated in the market and exist in a framework of free competition, with users determining which of them...
  • No Revolution Just Yet - Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Irredeemably Yours... Yuan Stops Rallying at the Wrong Moment The so-called petro-yuan was to revolutionize the world of irredeemable fiat paper currencies. Well, since its launch on March 26 — it has gone down. It was to be an enabler for oil companies who were desperate to sell oil for gold, but could not do so until the yuan oil contract.   After becoming progressively stronger over the past year, it looks as thought the 6.25 level in USDCNY is providing support for the...
  • The “Turn of the Month Effect” Exists in 11 of 11 Countries
      A Well Known Seasonal Phenomenon in the US Market – Is There More to It? I already discussed the “turn-of-the-month effect” in a previous issues of Seasonal Insights, see e.g. this report from earlier this year. The term describes the fact that price gains in the stock market tend to cluster around the turn of the month. By contrast, the rest of the time around the middle of the month is typically less profitable for investors.   Due to continual monetary inflation in the...
  • Flight of the Bricks - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      The Lighthouse Moves Picture, if you will, a brick slowly falling off a cliff. The brick is printed with green ink, and engraved on it are the words “Federal Reserve Note” (FRN). A camera is mounted to the brick. The camera shows lots of things moving up. The cliff face is whizzing upwards at a blur. A black painted brick labeled “oil” is going up pretty fast, but not so fast as the cliff face. It is up 26% in a year. A special brick, a government data brick of sorts, labeled...
  • Getting High on Bubbles
      Turn on, Tune in, Drop out Back in the drug-soaked, if not halcyon, days known at the sexual and drug revolution—the 1960’s—many people were on a quest for the “perfect trip”, and the “perfect hit of acid” (the drug lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD).   Dr. Albert Hoffman and his famous bicycle ride through Basel after he ingested a few drops of LSD-25 by mistake. The photograph in the middle was taken at the Woodstock festival and inter alia serves as a...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

Top10BestPro
j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com

Diary of a Rogue Economist