ARGENTINE UPDATE – Oct 28, 2015


BsAs — NYTimes Report on 36 Hours on the Town.. Video.. ENJOY

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1. ARGENTINA WENT TO THE POLLS ON SUNDAY. HERE ARE 7 INSIGHTS FROM THOSE ELECTIONS (The Washington Post)

2. ARGENTINA: NO. 3 FINISHER HINTS AT BACKING MACRI IN RUNOFF (The Washington Post)

3. CAN ARGENTINA’S NEXT PRESIDENT ESCAPE KIRCHNERISMO? (Bloomberg View)

4. AS ARGENTINA’S ELECTION GOES TO RUNOFF, ALL EYES TURN TO LOSER (Bloomberg News)

5. ARGENTINA SAYS INSURERS’ DOLLAR ASSETS CAN’T EXCEED LIABILITIES (Bloomberg News)

6. ARGENTINA SELLS LESS NOTES IN AUCTION EVEN AFTER RATE RISE (Bloomberg News)

7. ARGENTINA TIGHTENS DOLLAR RESTRICTIONS AS PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF LOOMS (Reuters News)

8. ARGENTINA PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER MACRI SEEKS COMMON GROUND WITH MASSA (Reuters News)

9. SPOTLIGHT: ARGENTINE CANDIDATES’ ECONOMIC PLANS (Business News Americas)

10. ARGENTINA DATA: OIL, GAS OUTPUT ROSE IN AUGUST YEAR ON YEAR: GOVERNMENT (Platts Commodity
News)

11. AN ARGENTINE CARTOONIST’S FORAY INTO THE NEW YORKER (The New York Times)

13. ARGENTINA AND THE CLOSING OF THE CYCLE (Open Democracy)

14. ARGENTINA’S RUNOFF TO BE DETERMINED BY A PENALTY SHOOT-OUT (Open Democracy)

15. A ‘GOLAZO’ IN ARGENTINA (American Thinker Blog)

16. ARGENTINA ELECTIONS COULD BENEFIT HOLDOUT HEDGE FUNDS (ValueWalk)

1. ARGENTINA WENT TO THE POLLS ON SUNDAY. HERE ARE 7 INSIGHTS FROM THOSE ELECTIONS (The Washington Post)
By Mark P. Jones
October 27, 2015

On Dec. 11, for the first time in 4,582 days, Argentines will awaken with a president who is not a Kirchner. Neither Néstor Kirchner (2003-07) nor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015) will be running the show in the Pink House (Argentina’s White House).

Elections were held Sunday for president, half of the Chamber of Deputies, one-third of the Senate, and thousands of provincial and municipal level posts, including 11 governors.

In the marquee presidential contest, six candidates who had been successful in the Aug. 9 primaries competed. The candidate of President Fernández’s Front for Victory (FPV) alliance was Province of Buenos Aires governor Daniel Scioli, while the candidate of the centrist We Can Change (WCC) alliance was City of Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri. The third principal contender was national deputy Sergio Massa of the United for a New Alternative (UNA) alliance.

Both Scioli and Massa belong to Argentina’s large Peronist movement, with Scioli aligned with the movement’s pro-Kirchner wing and Massa the leading figure in its anti-Kirchner wing. Three minor candidates also were on the ballot: Margarita Stolbizer (Progressives, center-left), Nicolás del Caño (Left Front, far-left), and Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (Federal Commitment, anti-Kirchner Peronist).

1. A Nov. 22 runoff will select the next president

In Argentina, a presidential candidate can obtain a first-round victory either by winning more than 45 percent of the valid vote or by winning between 40 and 45 percent and simultaneously besting the first runner-up by at least 10 percent.

Neither of those happened. Scioli, the pro-Kirchner candidate, was the plurality winner with 36.9 percent — but failed to reach that 40 percent threshold. Close behind was the opposition’s Macri, who garnered 34.3 percent. Massa finished third with 21.3 percent. The three remaining candidates were all in the low single digits.

2. The Peronist movement is alive and well — and won three-fifths of the presidential vote.

The election showed that Argentina’s large and diverse Peronist movement remains popular and vital. Three of the six presidential candidates were Peronists: Scioli, Massa and Rodríguez Saá. Together, they received 60 percent of the valid vote, on par with the 62 percent average won by Peronist presidential candidates in the three most recent (2003, 2007, 2011) elections.

3. Kirchner’s FPV won a majority in the Senate and a near-majority in the Chamber.

All 24 provinces voted for half of their seats in the Chamber of Deputies. One-third of the provinces voted for all three of their senators.

In the preliminary tally, the FPV and its allies won 61 of the 130 Chamber seats and 14 of the 24 Senate seats that were in play. Combine those with the seats occupied by the FPV or FPV allies among the 127 deputies and 48 senators who were not up for election this round, and the FPV and its allies will control three-fifths of the Senate seats and a little less than half of the Chamber.

The opposition party We Can Change and its allies won 47 seats in the Chamber and nine in the Senate. When added to the deputies and senators whose seats were not up for renewal this cycle, We Can Change and its allies will on December 10 control slightly more than one-third of the Chamber’s seats and about one-quarter of the Senate.

UNA and its allies gained 16 deputies and one senator. Come Dec. 10, the alliance’s members will occupy one out of 10 spots in the Chamber. If Macri wins on Nov. 22, the UNA delegation could be pivotal in determining whether the speaker of the Argentine Chamber will be a member of Macri’s We Can Change or of the FPV.

4. The province of Buenos Aires will have a governor who isn’t a Peronist.

Two out of every five Argentines live in the province of Buenos Aires. For the first time since the return to democracy in 1983, the Province of Buenos Aires elected a non-Peronist governor, We Can Change’s María Eugenia Vidal.

Voters really disapproved of Vidal’s FPV rival, Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández, viewed by many as authoritarian, corrupt and with alleged ties to drug traffickers. Anibal Fernández’s presence on the FPV ballot probably cut Scioli’s national share of the vote by a couple of points. Vidal won 39.5 percent to Anibal Fernández’s 35.2 percent, with UNA’s Felipe Solá in third, with 19.2 percent.

5. The second-place Macri might make an alliance with Massa to improve his chances of winning the presidency.

While UNA’s Macri has some very good reasons to celebrate his success in forcing the FPV’s Scioli into a runoff, he is still confronted by two facts.

First, Scioli is closer than Macri to the popular majority needed to triumph on Nov. 22.

Second, between now and Nov. 22, the Scioli campaign and its supporters will inundate Argentines with dire warnings about a Macri presidency. They will ask Argentines to recall the devastating economic, political and social crisis of 2001 that saw President Fernando de la Rúa (1999-2001) of the UCR (Radical Civic Union) resign.

The Scioli camp will then further remind voters that De la Rúa assumed office amid growing economic and fiscal problems, was the leader of a diverse and untested opposition alliance, lacked a congressional majority, faced a league of primarily Peronist governors, and was not a Peronist himself — all five of which would apply to a ‘President Macri’ as well.

And they will attempt to paint Macri as a neo-liberal who wants to return Argentina to the now relatively unpopular Washington Consensus-driven policies of the 1990s, particularly those policies associated with the privatization of state-owned companies, fiscal austerity and trade liberalization.

If We Can Change’s Macri were to ally with UNA’s Massa, it would help him in two related ways: in closing the vote gap between now and Nov. 22, and in partially ameliorating swing voters’ fears about all those potential problems. In Argentine lexicon, Massa would be the ‘Peronist leg’ offering needed strength and stability to a Macri presidency.

Without an explicit alliance and Massa’s endorsement, a majority of Massa supporters will probably back Scioli in the runoff. Some would do so for reasons of affinity or self-interested strategic behavior. Others would because they are risk averse and fear a potential repeat of 2001.

6. The world’s second-longest-serving federal executive was re-elected.

In the northern province of Formosa, Gildo Insfrán was re-elected to his sixth consecutive four-year term with 73.3 percent of the vote (with 98.3 percent of precincts reporting). Among all sub-national executives in the world’s federal democracies, Insfrán is the second longest consecutively serving state/provincial governor/premier, bested only by Lower Austria governor Erwin Pröll.

7. The Kirchners aren’t gone yet.

The Patagonian province of Santa Cruz is the Kirchner clan’s home. Before becoming president, Néstor Kirchner was Santa Cruz’s governor from 1991 to 2003 and Cristina Fernández represented Santa Cruz in both houses of congress.

Santa Cruz governor Daniel Peralta (2007-15) rebelled against President Fernández during this past term. To retake control of their turf, Cristina Fernández had her sister-in-law, Minister of Social Development Alicia Kirchner, run for governor.

The only problem was that Peralta insisted on running for re-election. If both Kirchner and Peralta ran, they would split the Peronist vote and potentially open the door (under the province’s existing simple plurality electoral formula) to a victory by the province’s most popular opposition figure, the UCR’s Eduardo Costa.

President Fernández’s solution was, with the assistance of her loyal supporters in the Santa Cruz legislature and Peralta’s acquiescence, to bring back the double-simultaneous vote (DSV), which was in vogue during the 1990s but had been eliminated for gubernatorial elections. Under the DSV, the votes of candidates running under the same banner are pooled together to determine the election’s winner.

In Santa Cruz, bitter rivals Alicia Kirchner and Daniel Peralta were the gubernatorial candidates of the Santa Cruzan Front for Victory (FPV-SC). Eduardo Costa and Osvaldo Pérez both ran for the anti-Kirchner Union to Live Better (UVM). While Costa (41.0 percent) won a higher percentage of the vote than either Kirchner (34.8 percent) or Peralta (16.8 percent), the combined FPV-SC vote (51.6 percent) was greater than that of the UVM (45.8 percent). Three left wing parties with solo candidates won 2.6 percent (all with 96.7 percent of precincts reporting).

Since Kirchner was the plurality winner within the FPV-SC, which in turn was the plurality winner among the alliances/parties, she becomes governor on Dec. 10.

Mark P. Jones is the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’s Political Science Fellow at Rice University.

2. ARGENTINA: NO. 3 FINISHER HINTS AT BACKING MACRI IN RUNOFF (The Washington Post)
October 27, 2015

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The third-place finisher in Argentina’s presidential election hinted Tuesday that he will support opposition candidate Mauricio Macri in the runoff vote.

Sergio Massa got 21 percent of the votes in Sunday’s election, turning him into a key player in the Nov. 22 runoff. Macri got 34 percent, while governing party candidate Daniel Scioli garnered 37 percent of the vote.

Both Macri and Scioli are courting Argentines who voted for Massa. On Tuesday, Massa said that “people voted against continuity.” That suggested he was closer to the changes being promised by Macri.

Massa said he would release his position Wednesday through a policy proposal manifesto, though it was uncertain if he planned to go a step further and make an endorsement.

It was also not clear how many supporters Massa might sway now that he is out of the race.

Many of his backers are, like Massa and Scioli, adherents of Peronism, a divided movement aligned with the working class founded by the late three-time president Juan Peron.

Macri shook up Sunday’s vote with surprisingly strong numbers. Polls had projected that Scioli would win the election by around 10 points.

Scioli, the governor of the Buenos Aires province, had been viewed as an easy front-runner thanks to the support of President Cristina Fernandez.

Since the tight vote Sunday, Scioli has intensified his warnings to Argentines that Macri would undo popular state programs.

Still, many in the country of 41 million have grown frustrated with high inflation, strict currency controls and allegations of corruption within Fernandez’s inner circle.

Macri, the Buenos Aires mayor, has branded himself as the overhaul candidate who will put Argentina’s economy back on track by lifting currency controls and attracting foreign investment. He also says he will reach a deal with creditors in the U.S. whose long-running court fight with the government has made it difficult for Argentina to borrow on international credit markets.

3. CAN ARGENTINA’S NEXT PRESIDENT ESCAPE KIRCHNERISMO? (Bloomberg View)
By Mac Margolis
October 27, 2015

The results of Argentina’s presidential election were still rolling in Sunday night when opposition candidate Mauricio Macri raised his hands through a cloud of confetti. “What happened today shows that the politics of this country have already changed,” said the Buenos Aires mayor, whose strong second-place finish surprised pollsters and pundits, and was a sharp rebuke to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. “Kirchnerismo,” he said, referring to the outgoing leader’s erratic brand of rule, “is history.”

Not quite yet. Macri must still win a Nov. 22 runoff against Fernandez’s chosen successor, governor of Buenos Aires province Daniel Scioli. Still, the fact that Macri earned enough of the vote to force a runoff — and that Fernandez’s Victory Front alliance lost both its congressional majority and the key race for Buenos Aires governor — suggests that after 12 years under one of the hemisphere’s most caustic political dynasties, Argentines are anxious for something new.

Whether they’ll get it is another question. What’s important is not the name of Argentina’s next president, but whether Fernandez’s exit will mean the end of Kirchnerismo — a vertiginous blend of ultra-nationalism, economic dirigisme and populist promises flung from the balcony, with which not even Scioli wishes to be fully associated.

On the Kirchner family’s watch, Argentina went from a recovering emerging market to an international pariah. After taking office in 2003, Nestor Kirchner set the tone, blasting big business and stiffing creditors. When Fernandez took over in 2007, instead of conciliating, she doubled down on her husband’s quarrels, adding big agriculture to the foes.

Shaken, but unbowed, by Nestor’s death in 2010, Fernandez clashed with farmers again, nationalized foreign companies, bullied critical journalists and invoked a contentious law to push for the break-up of media group Grupo Clarin. When the country’s fortunes plunged, she turned on enemies, at home and abroad. Honors to “debt vultures,” holdout creditors who refused to swallow severe write-downs on their loans, have tied Argentina up in international courts for the last decade.

Aggressive social spending may have helped offset Kirchnerismo’s abrasiveness. With a lift from the global commodities bonanza, Argentina’s economy grew an average of almost 8 percent a year between 2003 and 2012. Fernandez poured that windfall into lavish consumer subsidies and wage increases, in a spending drive that continued even as the economy began to tank in 2014.

Whichever candidate takes office on Dec. 10 will have to deal with an economy tumbling into recession, 25 percent inflation, a spiking public deficit and hard currency reserves down to a nine-year low. Almost 29 percent of Argentines lived in poverty last year, up from 25 percent in 2011, according to a study by the Catholic University of Argentina.

It’s therefore no surprise that all the top contenders in Sunday’s election took care to distance themselves to varying degrees from Kirchnerismo’s profligacy. That includes Scioli, who signaled that he would rein in spending and sit down with the litigious bond holders.

The country could use some parsimony. Unsustainable spending and bottomless subsidies became the norm under the Kirchners: An estimated 12 million consumers pay just 35 pesos a month for electricity — the price of a double espresso with milk — said Scioli’s top economic adviser, Miguel Bein.

People also didn’t truly know how badly the economy was faring, given that fudging statistics was a regular practice. Macri spent much of his campaign focusing on how to rescue the national statistics bureau, Indec, where inaccurate inflation and growth data earned the Fernandez government a rebuke by the International Monetary Fund.

Still, getting Argentines to accept that the days of generous social spending may need to be numbered won’t be easy. A recent poll found that although half of Argentines disapproved of Fernandez’s government, 35 percent favored “change with continuity” and another 27 percent wanted more of the same.

Such is the challenge facing Argentina’s next leader, caught between economic emergency and populist temptation. Macri may be the best bet the country has had in years to change the Kirchnerist script. But first he must convince voters that he will end the costly stalemate with creditors, and that promising Argentines benefits the country can’t afford is no way to return to solvency and growth — it’s just talk from a balcony.

4. AS ARGENTINA’S ELECTION GOES TO RUNOFF, ALL EYES TURN TO LOSER (Bloomberg News)
By Charlie Devereux
October 27, 2015

* Sergio Massa, a conservative Peronist, may play king maker
* Can he deliver? Analysts are studying his voters for clues

After Argentina’s presidential election stunned the nation by turning an expected shoo-in into a neck-and-neck contest, the two front-runners are preparing for a bruising four-week campaign. But the candidate attracting most of the attention right now is the one who was eliminated: Sergio Massa.

Massa drew 21 percent of the vote, or 5 million people, and they now have the chance to pick the next president. The question is whom Massa will favor and whether he will — or can — bring his voters with him.

“He can be the arbiter and that gives him a lot of scope for negotiation,” said Lorena Moscovich, a professor in political science at the University of San Andres in Buenos Aires.

Massa is a charismatic 43-year-old lawmaker and former mayor who has made tough-on-crime policies a signature issue. On Wednesday he plans to unveil a policy paper aimed at influencing the Nov. 22 run-off. And while most analysts suspect he will remain studiously uncommitted at least for a while, he’s given some signs of his inclination.

Fernandez’s ‘Employee’
“People don’t want continuity,” he said Tuesday, an unmistakable jab at Daniel Scioli, the top vote-getter who is allied with outgoing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He has also accused Scioli of being Fernandez’s “employee.” Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri has wasted no time and said he’s in talks with Massa.

What he can offer Massa is unclear, perhaps a leading role in Congress. Moscovich argues that Massa may or may not make a deal with Macri but is unlikely to make an alliance with Scioli. A Macri victory would probably suit Massa since it would position him as the de facto leader of Peronism, the shifting political ideology named after former President Juan Domingo Peron, that has ruled Argentina for decades.

Conversely, aligning himself too closely with Macri would make it difficult for him to later break away and lead the opposition, she said.

Scioli has made his own attempts to woo Massa, saying that, as Peronists, they share priorities and the “typical Massa voter is much further from Macri than from us.”

Market-Friendly
Macri is the more market-friendly, conservative candidate who promises a set of economic shifts that worry the lower classes who rely on government subsidies.

It is far from clear how much influence Massa has over his own followers.

“He’s very influential, but you have to bear in mind that votes in Argentina don’t belong to the candidates, they belong to the voters,” said Sergio Berensztein, president of a political consulting firm that bears his name.

This is particularly true of Massa, Berensztein said. A relatively new force in Argentine politics, he was the youngest ever cabinet chief under Fernandez, before breaking with her and forming his own dissident Peronist movement.

Sense of Allegiance
Given that his political alliance is only a few years old, his voters are less likely to have a strong sense of allegiance to him and will be less influenced by whom he chooses to back, Berensztein said.

Scioli and Macri may therefore profit more from studying the profile of Massa’s voters. They can be divided into two categories, according to Ernesto Calvo, a professor in government and politics at the University of Maryland.

The first are conservative Peronists opposed to Fernandez’s blend of left-leaning Peronism but aren’t necessarily repulsed by Scioli himself. The second category is comprised of middle-class voters likely either to abstain or vote for Macri.

Calculating the likely votes of Massa followers is therefore complex; they may end up splitting evenly, especially if Scioli turns toward the center over the next weeks of campaigning, according to Calvo. Scioli will likely tread a fine line between retaining the core of voters who support Fernandez and fishing for the Peronists who went with Massa.

Search for Insight
The thirst to understand Massa voters is sufficiently intense that an experiment conducted two weeks ago on Massa supporters is gaining the attention of columnists and political analysts grasping at any straw of insight. In that study, carried out by a Dutch company, 24 Massa backers were shown images of the three candidates followed by video clips while their brain activity was measured.

Marc Rothuizen of Neurensics, said that the Massa voters showed strong emotional attachment to Macri’s message of change.

Scioli is making overtures to Massa voters by warning that a Macri presidency would plunge Argentina into a chaos of currency devaluation and debt crisis such as the one that engulfed the country in 2001.
But he’ll also have to appeal to pro-change conservatives without alienating Fernandez’s followers, said Berensztein. What seems clear is that if he only promises continuity, he’ll lose, he said.

5. ARGENTINA SAYS INSURERS’ DOLLAR ASSETS CAN’T EXCEED LIABILITIES (Bloomberg News)
By Daniel Cancel
October 27, 2015

* Rule change follows new regulations on pension-fund assets
* New regulation could prompt sale of some dollar assets

Argentina’s insurance regulator changed the rules governing the amount of foreign currency holdings the companies can keep, which could prompt the firms to sell assets to meet a year-end deadline.

Insurance companies must adjust their foreign-currency security holdings to match the amount of foreign-currency contracts they have with clients, according to a resolution published Tuesday in the official gazette. The regulator said that both dollar assets and dollar-denominated assets payable in pesos are considered as foreign currency.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government, which leaves office on Dec. 10 after a Nov. 22 run-off election between the ruling party’s Daniel Scioli and the opposition’s Mauricio Macri, has in the past ordered insurance companies to repatriate foreign holdings and forced them to fill a certain portion of investment portfolios with bonds of companies deemed to be productive or dedicated to infrastructure projects. Multi-national firms in Argentina include ACE Ltd., Allianz SE and Zurich Insurance Group AG, according to the regulator’s website.

With the second-round election approaching, the government, which closely controls the official rate of the peso, is keen to keep parallel exchange rates from weakening further. The measure could also increase the number of dollar-denominated assets circulating in the local market and allow government entities to acquire them as central bank reserves sink toward a nine-year low.

Firms must reach 50 percent compliance with the rules by Nov. 3, 75 percent compliance by Nov. 30 and be in full compliance by Dec. 31.

Last month, the securities regulator ordered mutual funds to change the way they value foreign-currency holdings, sparking a rout in dollar-denominated bonds traded in the local market as firms rushed to sell rather than have to book a loss. The measure temporarily strengthened the exchange rate in a financial transactions market known as the blue-chip swap and prompted funds to stop taking on new client money for a brief period.

6. ARGENTINA SELLS LESS NOTES IN AUCTION EVEN AFTER RATE RISE (Bloomberg News)
By Carolina Millan
October 27, 2015

* 3 percentage-point increase represents biggest in 18 months
* Move seeks to tame dollar demand following first-round vote

Argentina’s central bank sold 11.3 billion pesos in weekly notes, 5 percent less than at the previous weekly auction, even after raising interest rates by 3 percentage points Tuesday as the government tries to tame dollar demand ahead of a presidential election runoff.
The central bank on Tuesday raised interest rates by the most in more than 18 months, lifting rates on its fixed-rate notes at its weekly debt auction to 28.93 percent and 29.35 percent, for 91 and 119-day securities, respectively. The bank had first set the weekly guidance late Monday with rates unchanged.

The move comes as the country’s foreign-currency reserves are near a nine-year low and the nation struggles to maintain an overvalued exchange rate. Due to restrictions on purchasing dollars at the official rate, Argentines buy greenbacks on the street for as much as 15.81 pesos per dollar compared to the official spot rate of 9.53. The last time the monetary authority took such a bold move to raise rates was February 2014 on the heels of a 20 percent devaluation when the guidance jumped 9 percentage points.

“This is trying to combat the rise of the dollar by making rates more attractive,” said Leonardo Chialva, a partner at Delphos Investment in Buenos Aires.

The central bank announced later Tuesday that banks must pass on the increase in rates to savers. The bank ordered financial institutions to pay a minimum of 26.3 percent on 30- to 44-day deposits, rising to as much as 29.1 percent for deposits of more than 180 days.

“Peso savings are growing steadily, showing the trust of those who save money in our national currency instead of options in foreign currency,” central bank President Alejandro Vanoli said in a statement.

The measure follows an upset in presidential elections on Sunday where the opposition fared much better than expected and forced a second round on Nov. 22. To tame dollar demand, the government’s options include raising rates or cutting dollars sold to individuals for savings, which would be unpopular and could hurt the ruling party’s electoral chances, according to Puente strategist Alejo Costa.

“There’s a feeling that it’s not going to be enough,” Costa said. “The rate would have to be way higher to contain the difference in the exchange rates now. This measure is a drop in the sea.”

7. ARGENTINA TIGHTENS DOLLAR RESTRICTIONS AS PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF LOOMS (Reuters News)
By Jorge Otaola
27 October 2015

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Argentina on Tuesday halved the daily amount of dollars companies can transfer abroad without authorization, currency traders said, while the country’s insurance regulator put new limits on the amount of hard currency assets insurers can hold.

The moves appeared to stem from the opposition’s success in forcing Sunday’s presidential election to a run-off vote, which could add to pressure on the central bank to shore up the peso currency as net foreign reserves run precariously low.

A central bank spokesman said he was not aware of the new curb on dollar transfers. But four currency market traders said the central bank had called commercial banks with a verbal directive to slash the daily limit on dollars that a single company can transfer outside Argentina to $75,000 without previous authorization.

“It’s a new move that intensifies state controls on the currency. It will have an impact, in particular on importers,” said one of the traders, declining to named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

It was not clear how long the measure would remain in place.

Argentina’s dollar crunch has its roots in a legal battle with U.S. creditors over unpaid debt stemming back to its 2002 default on $100 billion dollars that left the country all but locked out of global debt markets.

Outgoing President Cristina Fernandez’s government has increasingly had to rely on its reserves to prop up the peso currency, pay for energy imports and meet debt obligations.

In 2011 she imposed capital controls and her leftist government has incrementally turned the screws as reserves run lower.

Argentina’s gross foreign reserves stand at $27.1 billion but economists estimate that net reserves amount to about half that.

In a resolution published in the government gazette, meanwhile, Argentina’s insurance regulator ordered insurers to adjust their foreign currency security holdings to equal the value of foreign currency contracts they hold.

Insurance companies tend to hold dollar-denominated or dollar-linked bonds. By forcing the adjustment, the regulator is requiring them to sell at least some of those bonds and hold pesos instead, putting the dollars back into the system.

Last month, in a similar move, Argentina’s market watchdog ordered mutual funds to value their holdings of dollar-denominated bonds at the inflated official exchange rate, rather than against the so-called “blue-chip” swap rate.

That led to a sell-off in securities, temporarily helping to stabilize the black market rate.

Currency traders on Tuesday quoted the black market rate at 15.800 per dollar compared with the official rate of 9.530.

8. ARGENTINA PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER MACRI SEEKS COMMON GROUND WITH MASSA (Reuters News)
By Nicolas Misculin
27 October 2015

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Mauricio Macri, Argentina’s opposition challenger in next month’s presidential run-off vote, said on Tuesday he wanted to find common ground with defeated candidate Sergio Massa and that talks had begun between the two camps.

Massa placed third in Sunday’s first round vote with 21.3 percent of support, and both Macri and ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli will need to court the 43-year-old lawmaker and his voters to win the Nov. 22 second round.

Massa is drawing up a policy blueprint to be discussed with either of his rivals still in the presidential race. On Monday, a Massa camp insider told Reuters that while Massa would not explicitly endorse Macri, the document would be a “wink” in his direction.

Asked if messages were being sent between the two campaign teams, the pro-business Macri told local TV channel Telefe: “Yes, we’re talking. There’s a willingness to agree on policies, a willingness to find common ground.”

Outgoing President Cristina Fernandez’s eight years in power have been deeply divisive. The fiery leftist is loved by the lower-class for expanding social welfare programs and protecting Argentine industry but reviled by others for suffocating the economy.

Scioli, a moderate within the broad Peronist movement that dominates Argentine politics, campaigned on a platform of “gradual change” to Fernandez’s model of leftist populism. Macri promises to quickly dismantle her trade and currency controls.

In the run-up to Sunday, centrist Massa said Scioli stood for a continuation of policies that had stunted economic growth, fueled inflation and drained central bank reserves. But he also said Macri could drive the economy into a new crisis by imposing pro-market policies too quickly.

Since the ballot, Scioli has launched a wave of attacks on Macri, branding his policy platform a throwback to neoliberal policies of the 1990s in the run-up to a devastating 2001-2002 depression.

On Tuesday, as he and Macri scrambled for middle-ground voters, Scioli said he was open to hearing Massa’s proposals.

“I will listen to ideas that are good for Argentina, whoever they come from,” Scioli told TV channel TN.

Massa served as Fernandez’ cabinet chief during her first term in office but broke away from the ruling party in 2013. He has accused Scioli of letting Fernandez dictate his campaign, playing on the fears that Scioli would be a Fernandez puppet.

“The people want change,” Massa told Radio Mitre on Tuesday. “If Scioli doesn’t start taking his own decisions then it’s better he is not president.”

9. SPOTLIGHT: ARGENTINE CANDIDATES’ ECONOMIC PLANS (Business News Americas)
27 October 2015

After Sunday’s big surprise in the Argentine presidential election, when the challenging center-right candidate Mauricio Macri finished only two percentage points behind pro-government favorite Daniel Scioli, triggering a runoff on November 22, a closer look at each candidate’s economic plan is in order.

The two candidates’ plans mostly coincide in their diagnosis of the situation but differ in their proposed solutions. Both candidates agree on proposals for taxes but disagree on how to tackle inflation and on dealing with the bond holdout funds, according to local media outlet Cronista.

So what do they propose?

DANIEL SCIOLI

Exchange rate: Scioli’s plan rules out accelerating the devaluation of the peso.

Foreign reserves: In order to boost rapidly dwindling foreign reserves, Silvina Batakis, who would be finance minister in a Scioli government, thinks it is fundamental to free up capital outflows, and the idea is to issue US$10bn in US-denominated bonds to allow firms to repatriate earnings.

Holdout funds: Instead of negotiating with the holdout funds, Scioli proposes gaining time by issuing debt with multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and in the meantime provide legal authorization for the repatriation of funds held abroad by Argentines – estimated at US$5bn-8bn – in order to boost reserves.

Inflation: This is not a priority for Scioli who aims for a reduction only in the longer term. The central aspect of the plan is to recover economic activity levels.

Taxes: He proposes eliminating taxes on agro exports with the exception of soy and to increase the tax-exempt amount on income for people earning between 25,000 (US$2,600) and 30,000 pesos a month.

Subsidies: Scioli proposes financing the end of agro taxes by reducing badly allocated subsidies, but maintaining those for oil producing provinces.

MAURICIO MACRI

Exchange rate: Macri wants to end foreign exchange restrictions from day one, although his economic team concedes that is impossible without some previous measures. He proposes the devaluation of the peso to take the US dollar closer to 14 pesos, which would be the market value, rather than the official 9.6 pesos.

Holdout funds: He wants to regain access to international debt markets, and Macri’s plan includes an arrangement with the holdout funds with a 30% discount over the debt to be paid with a long-term bond issuance but without a cash disbursement. Access to capital markets would allow Argentina to raise cheaper debt: at a rate of 6%. This solution would cost US$19bn.

Inflation: This would be reduced in a sequential way. “The first step is to clarify the real rate of inflation. Then the president of the central bank and ministers would agree on a way to reduce it to two digits within three years,” said Hernán Lacunza, a member of Macri’s economic team, according to Cronista.

Taxes: Like Scioli, Macri proposes eliminating taxes on agro exports with the exception of soy and to increase the tax-exempt amount on income tax for those earning between 25,000 and 30,000 pesos a month.

Subsidies: Macri proposes gradually eliminating oil subsidies while maintaining subsidies for 2mn lower-income families.

10. ARGENTINA DATA: OIL, GAS OUTPUT ROSE IN AUGUST YEAR ON YEAR: GOVERNMENT (Platts Commodity News)
By Charles Newbery
27 October 2015

Buenos Aires (Platts)–27Oct2015/1036 am EDT/1436 GMT Argentine oil production rose 0.1% in August compared with the year-earlier period, and gas output increased 4.4% over the same period, according to national Energy Secretariat data released Tuesday.

Crude production averaged 529,159 b/d in August, up 0.1% compared with 528,883 b/d in August 2014 and 0.6% lower than 532,187 b/d in July, the department said in a data report that did not specify reasons for the changes.

State-run YPF, which produces nearly 43% of the nation’s crude, led the year-on-year increase by boosting production 1.2% to 224,895 b/d in August compared with 222,269 b/d in the year-earlier month, the report showed.

YPF is helping to offset a national decline since a record 847,000 b/d in 1998 by ramping up the development of maturing fields with enhanced recovery techniques and by developing huge resources in the Vaca Muerta shale play. It is producing an average of 52,000 b/d of oil equivalent from Vaca Muerta, according to the company’s latest numbers released this month. YPF has set a target of increasing crude production by 5% this year compared with 2014, after ramping it up 5.3% in 2014 on the year.

Other leading producers are BP-controlled Pan American Energy, Argentina’s Pluspetrol, China’s Sinopec, Brazil’s Petrobras, Chevron and Argentina’s Tecpetrol.

Meanwhile, gas production rose 4.4% to 119.9 million cu m/d in August, compared with 114.8 million cu m/d in the year-earlier period, and was up 2.2% compared with 117.3 million cu m/d in July, the secretariat said. Of the output in August, YPF produced an average of 35.9 million cu m/d, or a 30% share. Argentina petroleum Oil production (b/d)

11. AN ARGENTINE CARTOONIST’S FORAY INTO THE NEW YORKER (The New York Times)
By Jonathan Wolfe
28 October 2015

The Argentine cartoonist Ricardo Siri, better known by his middle name, Liniers, was flipping through some of his work, which was projected on a screen for a small but rapt audience at the Society of Illustrators in New York a few days ago. When he landed on a comic strip that begins in black and white but explodes into color after a man gets a kiss from a passing woman, sighs erupted from the crowd.

”A lot of my strips make women, mainly, go ‘awww’ ” Liniers said. ”That’s my superpower.”

Over the last few years, Liniers, a big name in cartooning in Latin America, has been attracting fans in the United States — a rarity for a foreign cartoonist. He has drawn three covers for The New Yorker since last year — the most recent one, a spoof on hipsters, depicts a young woman using her partner’s beard as a scarf — and has had two books published in the United States during the past month: ”Written and Drawn by Henrietta” (Toon Books), a children’s book released in English and Spanish; and ”Macanudo #3” (Enchanted Lion), a compilation of his comic strip ”Macanudo,” which has run for 13 years in the newspaper La Nación. (Macanudo is a vintage Argentine word that roughly means ”cool” or ”everything’s fine.”)

”When I started the comic everything was horrible,” Liniers, 41, said in a recent interview at his publisher’s office in SoHo at the start of an East Coast book tour. ”The towers fell here,” he said, ”and in Argentina there was a huge economic tailspin and we had five presidents in a week. So I wanted to create something optimistic as an act of resistance, like a positive revolution.”

In ”Macanudo,” plotlines usually do not extend past the punch line, if one exists at all, and the characters and type of humor can change daily. Penguins, gnomes and an olive named Oliverio are only a handful of the creatures that float in and out of ”Macanudo.”

”I like to surprise,” Liniers said. ”When readers open up the paper, I don’t want them to know what to expect.”

Graphically, the strip’s style was influenced by Art Spiegelman’s ”Maus” and Matt Groening’s ”Life in Hell.” (Liniers himself appears in ”Macanudo” as a white rabbit with features borrowed from art both Mr. Spiegelman and Mr. Groening.) The strip’s humor, Liniers says, was influenced by ”The Far Side,” ”Calvin and Hobbes” and Argentine comics.

He comes out of the vibrant tradition of cartooning in Argentina, where comic art boomed in humor magazines after World War II and is still popular today. The most famous comic strip in Argentina, ”Mafalda” by Joaquín Salvador Lavado, can still be found in kiosks across Latin America (and Europe) more than 40 years after the strip ended.

Though popular, ”Macanudo” is somewhat unusual; its gonzo humor and intent can be elusive. ”At first the papers didn’t want it,” said Angie Erhart Del Campo, Liniers’s wife and the co-founder of La Editorial Común, which publishes his books and those by other graphic artists in Argentina. ”It’s not a comic strip like ‘Peanuts’ or ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ that has all regular characters. A lot of older people still don’t get it. Friends of Ricardo’s parents will come up to me and say, ‘I know he’s famous, but I still don’t get them.’ ”

Part of the first generation that came of age in post-dictatorship Argentina, Liniers grew up in Buenos Aires, where he was sent to an English-language school by his father, a lawyer and an Anglophile. As a young man, Liniers traveled to North America and read American literature and comics in English.

Argentine comics tend to offer biting social commentary or jabs at the political establishment. Juan Sasturain, a writer, humorist and co-host of the television show ”Plop!: Caete de Risa,” about Argentine humor, said that comics have always been a diversion. But since the 1970s, he added, the comics page ”has spoken about the same things as the front page.”

And yet, ”Macanudo” bucks this trend too.

”Liniers,” said Mr. Sasturain, who has collaborated on a book with him, ”has gone way beyond the Argentine tradition. He has adopted graphic culture and he likes contemporary culture, and he’s created a huge world where not even politics or strict sociological points exist.”

Françoise Mouly, art editor at The New Yorker and the founder of Toon Books, first came across Liniers’s work in Paris around six years ago. Ms. Mouly said she thought children’s books would be a natural extension of his frequently intimate style, and she has commissioned two from Liniers for Toon Books: ”The Big Wet Balloon” (2013) and now ”Written and Drawn by Henrietta.” As for ”Macanudo,” Ms. Mouly said it was a coup for a foreign cartoonist to be published in the United States, where ”almost nothing ever gets in” because there is already so much comic art available.

Liniers understands; after more than a decade of cartooning, he is finally publishing books in the United States, fulfilling his dream of working alongside the North American cartoonists he adores.</
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