Thursday, March 10, 2016

BloombergBusiness: "Wall Street Is in Charge in Argentina (Again)"

You can't make this stuff up. Well, you can, but you don't have to. The business press has suffered the chronic quality problems of the mainstream press more generally. But they are still worth reading. Especially when they come up with a gem like this, whose headline could have been from some leftie website: Carolina Millan, Wall Street Is in Charge in Argentina (Again) BloombergBusiness 03/08/2016.

Millan is reporting on the Mauricio Macri government, which has presented itself so far as a shameless neoliberal, One Percenter government:

Wall Street is back in favor in the new Argentina, and in a big way. Since winning office in November, President Mauricio Macri, a former businessman himself, has loaded his administration up with traders, financiers, entrepreneurs, economists and corporate executives.

It’s not the kind of move that a leader would consider right now in, say, the U.S. or Spain or Greece, places where the anti-banker sentiment has reached a fevered pitch in the past few years. But in Argentina -- where a decade of government intervention in the economy, peppered with a strong ideological bent, has fueled runaway inflation and stagnant growth -- the population seems more open to the idea. Macri wants to undo those policies as quickly as possible and he wants professionals well schooled in the laws of free markets to do it.
That characterization of the previous decade under the kirchnerista governments of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández is frivolous. But it's standard "shock doctrine" to accuse previous governments of causing a disaster, to justify the neoliberal measures that will produced real disasters.

In the accompanying video, Diego Ferro of vulture-fund firm Graylock Capital refers to Macri's assumption of power this past December as "regime change." He also says that "people are looking at Brazil as a regime change type situation," referring to neoliberal efforts to oust the left-leaning government of Dilma Vana da Silva Rousseff.

The editors did let a surprising turn of phrase make into print (or into the pixels): "At the very least, the hirings are helping Macri win the confidence game, a crucial step to reinserting the country in international capital markets over a decade after it defaulted on $95 billion of bonds and disappeared from investors’ radar screens." (my emphasis)

"Confidence game" is the right name for it, for sure!

Millan disses Axel Kicilof, though, my second-favorite Finance Minister after Greece's Yanis Varoufakis:

Siobhan Morden, the head of Latin America fixed-income strategy at Nomura Securities, called it the best economic team in the region.

That’s not likely something that any bond analyst would have said of the staff assembled by Macri’s predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Her last economy minister, Axel Kicillof, a former youth movement leader [and respected economist, which Millan's article manages to not mention], was famous for railing against international investors, saying once that Spain’s Repsol SA was “looting” the country and another time that the defaulted bonds held by the hedge funds were as worthless as pieces of cardboard. [Why, polite finance ministers just don't talk that way!]

“It’s certainly a shift from the Kirchner era,” Morden said.

At the head of the new group is Prat-Gay. A 50-year-old Buenos Aires native, he signed on with JPMorgan back in 1994, about the same time that [Finance Secretary Luis] Caputo joined the bank. (Bausili would begin there a few years later as would Vladimir Werning, the economist who now serves as chief of staff in the Finance Ministry.) By 1999, Prat-Gay had worked his way up to the top job in the firm’s currency research group in London, a position he’d leave shortly after the default to take the reins at the Argentine central bank -- where he earned the title of central banker of the year from EuroMoney magazine in 2004. A couple years after he returned to Argentina, so did Caputo, who took over control of Deutsche Bank’s operations in the country.
In the last paragraph, Millan mentions, "At last count, annual inflation was running at about 30 percent." She doesn't explain that the current inflation is the result of Macri's shock-doctrine devaluation immediately after taking office.

No comments: