LIBERALISMO PARA LAS IZQUIERDAS

3 febrero, 2016

ARGENTINA SALVAJIZADA

CHARLA 474ª DEL CURSILLO DE ECONOMÍA CRIOLLA – 20-9-02

LIBERALISMO PARA LAS IZQUIERDAS

A medida que avanza la desintegración social argentina – proceso al cual llamo el “salvajismo” desde que Duhalde destruyó a nuestra moneda el peso convertible a dólar, sin que la sociedad reaccione frente a dicha SALVAJADA – noto que estamos entrando en una “meseta”, ya que el Gobierno se las ha ingeniado, a través de los medios de prensa, no sólo para durar nueve meses, sino también para que posiblemente hoy se esté discutiendo cómo puede prolongarse este proceso político dictatorial disfrazado (a los ojos de la gran mayoría) como una Democracia Formal.

¿HABRÁ ELECCIONES EN MARZO?

Hoy he tenido la sensación de que el Gobierno se ha sacado oficialmente la máscara, cuando leo declaraciones del señor Atanasof, que es el Administrador General del País, según la Constitución, por ser el Jefe del Gabinete de Ministros, que jamás…

Ver la entrada original 2.563 palabras más

Fabricaciones Militares publicitaba Kirchnerismo

3 febrero, 2016

http://www.infobae.com/2016/02/02/1787335-como-era-el-centro-propaganda-kirchnerista-que-funcionaba-fabricaciones-militares

ARGENTINE UPDATE – Feb 1, 2016

2 febrero, 2016

1. TWISTING INQUIRY INTO BUENOS AIRES BOMBING TAKES NEW TURN (The New York Times)

2. ARGENTINA TO RESUME TALKS WITH ‘HOLDOUTS’ (Financial Times (FT.Com))

3. ARGENTINA SEALS $5 BLN BANK LOAN AS HEADS INTO HOLDOUT TALKS (Reuters News)

4. ARGENTINA RAISES POWER TARIFFS IN DRIVE TO SLASH SUBSIDIES (Reuters News)

5. DIAZ REUS ANNOUNCES MEMBERS OF ARGENTINA SOVEREIGN DEBT CLASSES ASKED TO SUBMIT INFORMATION FOR U.S. CLASS ACTIONS (Business Wire)

6. ARGENTINA RISK: RISK OVERVIEW (Economist Intelligence Unit – Risk Briefing)

7. ARGENTINA RISK: ALERT – RISK SCENARIO WATCHLIST (Economist Intelligence Unit – Risk Briefing)

1. TWISTING INQUIRY INTO BUENOS AIRES BOMBING TAKES NEW TURN (The New York Times)
By Jonathan Gilbert
Feb. 1, 2016

BUENOS AIRES — For more than two decades, an investigation into the suicide bombing of a Jewish center here in 1994 that killed 85 people has faced setbacks and controversy. It caused an intractable rift between Argentina and Iran. A former president has been put on trial, accused of orchestrating a cover-up. And a prosecutor involved in the case died last year in murky circumstances.

But now, Argentina’s new government is pledging to finally get to the bottom of a case that cost the country about $3.5 million last year alone, and that took on a life of its own, swallowing up many who touched it.

President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December, has revamped the government department assigned to the bombing investigation and has vowed to introduce legislation that would allow for the trial of suspects in absentia.

The question is whether those efforts, which face considerable legal hurdles and political opposition, will translate into lasting results in the long-running case.

The president wants to “re-establish the commitment of the Argentine state” to solving the attack, said Mario Cimadevilla, who has been appointed to head the investigative department

The unit was created in 2000 to lend support from the executive branch to prosecutors leading the inquiry, for instance by collating evidence from government agencies. In recent years, it had largely been sidelined.

Mr. Cimadevilla has new powers that include the ability to propose legislation and furnish information to investigators working on the death last year of Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor overseeing the case, which may shed new light on the bombing. In 2006, Mr. Nisman blamed the bombing on the Iranian government.

Mr. Cimadevilla’s first task has been drafting a bill to try defendants in absentia, which the government expects to send to Congress when it reconvenes in March. If approved, it would allow suspects abroad who refuse to cooperate with the bombing investigation to be tried in Argentina’s courts.

“We don’t want trials to be halted because the defendant isn’t there,” Mr. Cimadevilla said. “That is denying justice.”

Mr. Macri’s opponents have accused him of trying to score political points by seeking to close the case with the swift convictions of eight former officials in Iran whom Mr. Nisman suspected of masterminding the bombing.

Sergio Burstein, whose estranged wife died in the attack, said the government was acting prematurely by drafting the bill when the prosecutors who replaced Mr. Nisman seem far from concluding their investigation and are still trying to glean evidence from a trial involving a former president, Carlos Saúl Menem. Mr. Menem is accused of conspiring to conceal a possible Syrian connection to the bombing.

Alejandro Rúa, a lawyer for Active Memory, a group of victims’ relatives, said Mr. Macri’s administration wanted a verdict. “We don’t want a verdict,” Mr. Rúa said. “We want the truth, and to get to it you have to investigate.”

Others say Mr. Macri’s efforts are designed to endear him to Jewish leaders with whom his party is perceived as having close ties.

The chief Jewish umbrella organization here, known by its acronym, DAIA, supports the idea of a trial in absentia. It presented a similar bill in 2014, and Mr. Cimadevilla said the government’s proposal would draw on that document.

“There needs to be a close to the case; if not, the dead are never going to rest in peace,” Ariel Cohen Sabban, the president of DAIA, said at a recent gathering in a plaza here to commemorate a year since Mr. Nisman’s death.

Mr. Macri does not have a majority in Congress, so he will need to negotiate with lawmakers from other blocs to pass the legislation. He could get some cross-party support, but it is unclear how much political capital he will want to invest in the bill when he is also trying to push through other important measures, said Juan Cruz Díaz, a director at the Cefeidas Group, a political risk analysis firm.

Mr. Nisman, the lead prosecutor on the investigation from 2005 until his mysterious death a year ago from a gunshot to the head, accused the former Iranian officials of authorizing the bombing of the Jewish center and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement, of executing it.

Other unproven theories point to Syrian involvement or a so-called local connection, which once involved a former chief of Argentina’s intelligence agency and a group of police officers. These suspects were among 22 people acquitted in 2004, but the ex-intelligence chief, Hugo Alfredo Anzorreguy, is back in court together with Mr. Menem. (At least one fact has been established: Carlos Alberto Telleldín, an Argentine car salesman, was the last known registered owner of the Renault van that was loaded with explosives and driven into the Jewish center headquarters.)

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed a contentious bilateral pact with Iran in 2013 so a jointly appointed commission could interrogate the Iranian suspects in Tehran. It was unclear how any subsequent trial would have proceeded.

Mrs. Kirchner said the agreement was the only way of enticing Iran to collaborate in the investigation. But Jewish leaders here, some victims’ relatives and the political opposition criticized the arrangement, saying it would be too easy for the Iranians to absolve themselves of a crime committed in Argentina if the investigation was shifted to their own country.

The pact was approved by lawmakers, but it was declared unconstitutional in 2014 by a two-judge panel that ruled it was an overreach of the executive branch into a judicial investigation. The new government recently dropped an appeal by Mrs. Kirchner’s administration of that ruling.

Even if passed, a bill allowing trials in absentia would — like the pact with Iran — face challenges in the courts, experts say. Trials in absentia are not explicitly addressed in Argentina’s Constitution, but they would violate its provisions for due process, said Raúl Gustavo Ferreyra, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Buenos Aires.

However, when the two-judge panel ruled against the pact with Iran, one of them highlighted how the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights once approved the extradition of a defendant from Costa Rica after he was convicted in absentia in France; he was given the right to appeal and a new trial. The Constitution has a provision to incorporate this type of international precedent.

“If you guarantee there can be a full review of the ruling, that would give it constitutional validity,” said Francisco Castex, a professor of criminal law here.

Even if trials eventually proceed, experts note that it is unlikely Iran would turn over citizens convicted in the case.

“It’s inconsequential,” Carlos Escudé, an Argentine political scientist who has written about the bombing investigation, said of the bill. “It’s as if the government is saying, ‘The show must go on.’ But the Iranians would never give themselves up.”

2. ARGENTINA TO RESUME TALKS WITH ‘HOLDOUTS’ (Financial Times (FT.Com))
By Benedict Mander
1 February 2016

Argentina will resume debt talks with a group of US hedge funds on Monday after securing a $5bn loan from Wall Street banks last week that will strengthen its hand in negotiations to end a decade-long legal dispute.

Finance secretary Luis Caputo, a former JPMorgan executive, is due to present an offer to the so-called holdout creditors, who rejected restructuring deals after Argentina’s 2001 default and won a legal victory in the US in 2012 that ruled that they should be repaid in full.

The bridge loan to Argentina’s central bank, which confirmed on Friday that foreign exchange reserves had jumped to more than $30bn, is another sign of investor confidence in the new market-friendly government of Mauricio Macri. HSBC, JPMorgan and Santander contributed $1bn each, while Deutsche Bank, BBVA, Citibank and UBS all lent $500m at an interest rate of about 6 points above the Libor rate.

The dispute with the holdouts is preventing Argentina’s return to the international capital markets. Reaching an agreement with the creditors led by US billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management would put an end to Argentina’s second default this century in 2014, when the holdouts’ legal victory in the US prevented Argentina from continuing to service debt to holders of restructured debt.

An agreement could lead to upgrades by credit rating agencies and Argentina’s inclusion in emerging market bond indices. JPMorgan last week removed South America’s second-largest economy from its “frontier” market index.

Mr Macri, who attracted huge interest from investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, has made solving the legal dispute a central part of his economic reforms, which included a 30 per cent devaluation in the overvalued peso in December after lifting strict capital controls in place since 2011.

Last week, the centre-right government also began removing costly electricity subsidies, with prices for consumers set to multiply by more than six times.

The previous populist government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner presided over some of the cheapest electricity prices in the world, pushing the fiscal deficit last year to almost 8 per cent of gross domestic product. Nearly 3 per cent of GDP has been ploughed into subsidising domestic energy consumption, with electricity bills for many households costing as little as $3 a month.

Any agreement with the holdouts will then have to be approved by the opposition-dominated congress, with delicate negotiations with the divided Peronist movement expected to follow. Despite his tough economic reform programme, Mr Macri, who was previously mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, enjoys approval ratings of 71 per cent after his first month in office, according to Poliarquia, a local pollster.

The holdouts’ own bonds had a face value of around $6bn in 2001, but accumulated interest means that the value of Argentina’s holdout claims is now estimated to be more than $20bn.

3. ARGENTINA SEALS $5 BLN BANK LOAN AS HEADS INTO HOLDOUT TALKS (Reuters News)
By Walter Bianchi and Sarah Marsh
29 January 2016

* Argentina gets $5 bln loan from int’l banks to bolster reserves
* Deal strengthens negotiating hand as goes into debt talks

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Argentina’s central bank said on Friday it had sealed a deal for a $5 billion, one-year loan from international private banks, bolstering its low foreign reserves as the country heads into talks with creditors suing over unpaid debt.

The South American country is virtually shut out of global credit markets because of its long-running legal dispute in U.S. courts with creditors over debt it defaulted on in 2002.

President Mauricio Macri, who took office last month, has said he hopes to reach an agreement early this year, enabling Argentina to re-gain access to capital markets. In the meantime, his government has secured alternative financing.

This commercial bank loan “facilitates the central bank’s capacity to confront external shocks and thereby avoid disruption in the local market,” the regulator said in a statement.

The loan will be backed by Bonar 2022, Bonar 2025 and Bonar 2027 notes in the central bank’s portfolio, it added.

Argentina’s foreign reserves rose to $30.071 billion on Friday from $25.241 billion the previous day, the central bank said in a separate statement after the local markets’ close.

The interest rate on the commercial bank loan will be the Libor rate plus 6.15 points, said a source at a bank involved in the deal who asked not to be identified.

The banks HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Santander will contribute $1 billion each, while Deutsche Bank, BBVA, Citibank and UBS will lend 500 million each, the source said.

Argentina has said it will present a proposal to settle its legal debt battle next week to the U.S. court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack.

Finance Secretary Luis Caputo, a former Deutsche Bank executive, has already traveled to the United States to meet with Pollack next week, the Finance Ministry said on Friday.

“There will be informal meetings on Monday and Tuesday with Pollack and possibly with the holdouts,” the ministry said. “We do not know yet when the proposal will be presented. These meetings will be held without lawyers present.”

Argentina originally hoped the talks would take place the week of Jan. 25 but the holdouts asked for them to be postponed a week due to “logistical difficulties”.

4. ARGENTINA RAISES POWER TARIFFS IN DRIVE TO SLASH SUBSIDIES (Reuters News)
29 January 2016

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Argentina’s energy minister on Friday announced new power rates on the back of subsidy cuts that could see the bills of some consumers jump six-fold, saying that a near total freeze on tariffs in parts of the country had left the power grid “on the brink of collapse.”

Minister Juan Jose Aranguren said the government of newly-elected Mauricio Macri targeted reducing subsidies by $4 billion this year as part of a drive to reduce a gaping deficit that widened sharply under the government of former President Cristina Fernandez.

“The subsidies for the generation of electricity in 2015 was around $10 billion, which is just under 2 points of gross domestic product,” Aranguren told a news conference. “With our new tariff policy…we aim to save $4 billion.”

The federal government only controls rates in the capital and its suburbs. Provincial governments outside of Buenos Aires set their own rates.

Aranguren said the old subsidy system had favoured residents of the capital Buenos Aires, who typically pay rates five times lower than in other provinces because rates there have been largely frozen for more than 13 years.

He said that a household in the capital which consumed 180 kilowatts per month would see its bill rise to 150 pesos ($10.74) from 25 pesos – a price the minister noted was roughly the same as a cup of coffee.

There will be cost-saving incentives for consumers who reduce their consumption from last year.

Leading utility firms Edenor and Edesur, which distribute power to metropolitan Buenos Aires have posted losses in four of the past five fully reported financial years as power rates stayed rock bottom even as inflation surged.

The new rate structure comes after the government set new wholesale prices for electricity that will apply nationwide from Monday.

Aranguren said that the rates would be reviewed again in six months time.

Argentina has spent $51 billion on power subsidies since 2003, Aranguren said.

5. DIAZ REUS ANNOUNCES MEMBERS OF ARGENTINA SOVEREIGN DEBT CLASSES ASKED TO SUBMIT INFORMATION FOR U.S. CLASS ACTIONS (Business Wire)
29 January 2016

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–January 29, 2016– Counsel representing classes of certain holders of defaulted Argentine sovereign bonds have announced that the federal court in New York City has asked class members to identify themselves to class counsel as part of the process for the court to determine the total amount of damages owed to the classes. Class members can identify themselves by requesting and sending in a Proof of Claim, as discussed below.

In 2001, the Republic of Argentina defaulted on multiple series of Global Notes and Bonds. Argentina has since failed to pay the principal and interest due on those bonds.

Today’s announcement concerns the nine series of defaulted bonds identified in the chart below. Lawsuits are pending before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Griesa) concerning each of these series of bonds.

The Court has certified each lawsuit as a class action. The members of each class are beneficial holders of any amounts of the bonds who held the bonds as of the relevant starting date listed below (or earlier), and continuously hold at least some amount of that original holding through today.

Description ISIN Number Starting Date of Holding
—————————- ———— ————————
1. Republic of Argentina 11% US040114AN02 January 16, 2004
Global Notes due October 9,
2006
—————————- ———— ————————
2. Republic of Argentina 7% US040114GF14 January 16, 2004
Global Notes due December
19, 2008
—————————- ———— ————————
3. Republic of Argentina 9.75% US040114AV28 January 22, 2004
Global Notes Due September
19, 2027
—————————- ———— ————————
4. Republic of Argentina 11.75% US040114GA27 February 4, 2004
Global Notes Due June 15,
2015
—————————- ———— ————————
5. Republic of Argentina 11% US040114AZ32 February 4, 2004
Global Notes Due December 5,
2005
—————————- ———— ————————
6. Republic of Argentina 8.375% US040114AH34 February 10, 2004
Global Notes Due December
20, 2003
—————————- ———— ————————
7. Republic of Argentina US040114GD65 March 17, 2004
12.375% Global Notes Due
February 21, 2012
—————————- ———— ————————
8. Republic of Argentina XS0043120582 March 17, 2004
Floating Rate L+0.8125
Global Notes Due March 2005
—————————- ———— ————————
9. Republic of Argentina XSO113833510 December 19, 2006
European Medium Term Note
Bond, 9.25% Due July 20,
2004
—————————- ———— ————————

The court has already found that Argentina is liable to class members for unpaid principal and interest. The court now seeks to identify the individual class members as part of the process to calculate the amount of damages for each class.

All beneficial holders of any bonds in any of the classes who have held any amount of bonds continuously from the “start date” through today are requested immediately to contact Class Counsel to obtain the Proof of Claim form that they can use to identify themselves and the amount of their class holdings. The deadline to send in Proof of Claim forms is February 29, 2016.

Individuals or institutions holding bonds in series 1-8 in the above chart should contact Class Counsel Marta Colomar Garcia at mcolomar@diazreus.com, 00-1-305-375-9220.

Individuals or institutions holding bonds in series 9 in the above chart should contact Jason A Zweig at jasonz@hbsslaw.com or 00-1-708-628-4958. Mr. Zweig’s firm has been appointed by the Court to represent the class with respect to the bonds in series 9 above. Holders of interests in series 9, can also obtain a claim form at https://www.hbsslaw.com/cases/argentine-bonds/pressrelease/argentine-bonds-hagens-berman-urges-argentine-bond-holders-to-file-claim-for-damages-in-class-action-lawsuit.

Bondholders who submitted “opt-out” notices or who have filed individual lawsuits or arbitrations should not submit a Proof of Claims form.

Information provided will be used only for this litigation and will not be filed in the public court records. The court may also request additional information at a later time.

Current bondholders who wish to remain in the classes and eventually be eligible to claim a share of any class recovery should not sell or transfer their bonds. Bonds that are sold or transferred will not be part of the classes.

Bondholders should not call or write to the court with questions about the Proof of Claim process.

6. ARGENTINA RISK: RISK OVERVIEW (Economist Intelligence Unit – Risk Briefing)
29 January 2016

RISK RATINGS Current Current Previous Previous
Rating Score Rating Score
Overall assessment C 56 C 58
Security risk C 43 C 43
Political stability risk C 50 C 50
Government effectiveness risk C 46 C 46
Legal & regulatory risk C 52 C 52
Macroeconomic risk E 90 E 90
Foreign trade & payments risk C 50 D 61
Financial risk C 58 D 62
Tax policy risk D 62 D 62
Labour market risk D 64 D 64
Infrastructure risk C 47 C 47

Note: E=most risky; 100=most risky.The risk ratings model is run once a quarter.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

Argentina’s rating remains at C, following recent improvements reflecting moves by the new president, Mauricio Macri, to address macroeconomic imbalances and restore confidence in policymaking and in the environment for business. In the short term, policy adjustments under a new administration will increase the risk of social unrest, keeping political stability risk high. In the short term, macroeconomic risk and financial risk will also remain high, reflecting high market risk, weak confidence in banks and a recent history of sovereign default. Interventionism in response to economic distortions will decline in the medium term, and legal and regulatory risk will improve as a result, as will foreign trade and payments risk. Strong unions, frequent strikes and inflexible labour rules will heighten labour market risk. Infrastructure will remain a relative strength, although in the short term weak energy output will maintain the risk to this area.

Security risk

Security risk is less of a concern than in much of Latin America, but the perception that the security environment is deteriorating is rising. Crime rose sharply during the 2001 crisis and has not come down since. Despite recent reforms, the police are still regarded as ineffective, or occasionally complicit in some crimes. On the hard left, foreign capital and the banking system are still demonised for the part they played in the historic 2001 crisis. But the risk of direct action against representatives of these groups has faded. The illegal drugs trade generally does not pose a direct threat to businesses but is a growing source of violence and corruption. Argentina’s large Jewish population makes it a potential target of terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists.

Political stability risk

Reflecting the scale of economic mismanagement under the previous government, led by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which had produced stagflation and strong currency devaluation pressures, the adjustment process taking place under President Mauricio Macri will be a difficult one, involving politically unpopular austerity measures, including a scaling back of fiscal expenditure. Resistance among Argentina’s powerful unions to austerity, and, in particular, to efforts to rein in nominal wages in bargaining rounds next year, will be strong. The risk of social unrest will therefore remain high in the near term.

Government effectiveness risk

Weak institutions are a shortcoming of the political system. One by-product of a strong presidential system is weak congressional oversight of the executive. There is a long history of political interference with the judiciary, although in a recent positive development, the Supreme Court had ruled a controversial reform-seen as an attempt by the former administration of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to exert greater control over the court system-unconstitutional. Discretionary transfers have given the administration the upper hand in managing relations with the provinces, although provincial leaders still have the potential to be disruptive in Argentina’s federal political system. The low quality of the bureaucracy is expected to persist, assuming a long-awaited public-sector reform is delayed indefinitely, and could hinder implementation of government policies. Increases in investment spending have been poorly targeted, as political considerations take precedence.

Legal & regulatory risk

Confidence in the rules of the game remains weak after almost a decade of populist policies intended to maximise voter support at the expense of trust in contract rights. The president, Mauricio Macri, who took office in December, will attempt to restore confidence in the framework for doing business, but this will take time, and will be complicated by sovereign default, which restricts the government’s ability to make amends with creditors and investors in order to attract fresh inflows of much-needed dollars. The Macri administration will work to dismantle the distortionary controls implemented over the course of recent years, and to reduce the perceived risk of expropriation of foreign assets. Government participation in “strategic” sectors such as energy will persist.

Macroeconomic risk

The Macri administration has begun the process of macroeconomic adjustment required to reduce inflation, improve external competitiveness and avoid an eventual balance-of-payments crisis. After only a week in office, the new government began to remove foreign-exchange controls, allowing the peso to devalue by around 30% in mid-December. This rapid adjustment is intended to provide clarity, transparency and a strong signal of the government’s commitment to change. But economic adjustments, which will also include monetary and fiscal tightening, will be politically difficult and, in the short term, will subdue activity. This will, however, be rewarded with a boost to investor confidence, assuming that the new government also works to exit default (eliminating the foreign-financing constraint) and strengthen confidence in the rule of law, which has been eroded by years of discretionary policy interventionism. Together, these policies should set the economy on a more solid long-term footing.

Foreign trade & payments risk

President Mauricio Macri’s government marks the start of a shift away from unpredictable and distortionary trade measures as the new government works to promote trade and investment via clear rules of the game. Controls are being eliminated quickly. However, there are some external sector risks stemming from a still-weak balance-of-payments position. The balance of payments has deteriorated in recent years on the back of an increasingly overvalued peso, persistently low foreign direct investment, negative portfolio flows and high levels of capital flight. Measures to increase competitiveness, boosting the trade balance and to improve investor confidence, bolstering investment inflows, will take some time to bear fruit. This means that liberalisation measures could be vulnerable to setbacks if pressure on the peso increases above expectations, for example if the authorities fail to secure a quick settlement with holdout creditors.

Financial risk

Access to financing remains a weakness, as an history of crisis has reduced confidence in the domestic financial system dramatically, and improvement in the outlook period will be gradual. Regulation and supervision have been strengthened since the 2001-02 crisis, with weaknesses, including a high level of exposure to public-sector debt and a high level of dollar-lending not backed by dollar revenue streams, having been addressed. But this has not produced a recovery in longer-term deposits that would lead to growth in longer-term finance. This is against a background of adverse policy decisions (such as the 2008 nationalisation of the private pension funds) and a deterioration of the public finances. The latter makes crowding out by the public sector a likely problem, at least until public-sector external financing constraints are removed via a negotiated settlement with holdout creditors.

Tax policy risk

Tax policy has become increasingly unpredictable and complex, and is also costly and inefficient. According to the World Bank’s latest Doing Business report (for 2016), in Argentina a medium-sized company takes 405 hours per year to prepare, file and pay its taxes, compared with an OECD average of 177 hours, and pays a total tax rate (including labour contributions) of 137% of profits (the OECD average is 41%). Under President Mauricio Macri, a reduction and eventual elimination of the most distortionary taxes, such as agricultural export taxes, will be likely. But a broad-and politically difficult-reform to increase the consistency and equity of the system (which has been distorted by a decentralisation of expenditure to the provinces and a centralisation of revenue to the central government) has long been put off and remains extremely unlikely to be addressed in the forecast period. As a result, tax evasion and informality will remain high.

Labour market risk

Argentina’s relatively well-educated, productive and flexible labour force is an asset to the country’s business environment (and makes the labour market Argentina’s highest ranking category in the business environment rankings). However, reflecting the political difficulty of reforms to simplify labour regulations and a highly unionised labour market that produces a high incidence of strikes, its ranking has deteriorated for the forecast period. In the short term, difficult economic adjustments that will produce a decline in real wages and a reduction in purchasing power will translate into a high level of strikes (notably in public services such as transport and education), led by politically powerful trade union leaders. President Mauricio Macri faces a tough task in tackling union power, and we expect little progress on reducing the extent of wage and other labour market regulation.

Infrastructure risk

Argentina’s strengths include a well-developed telecommunications and information technology network, and relatively low property rental costs, but physical infrastructure has suffered over the past decade from a lack of investment. This is partly the result of a long-standing failure to adjust a plethora of tariffs frozen during the 2001-02 economic crisis. Although the Fernández government took a more active role in public works, this has proved insufficient to prevent the emergence of bottlenecks, particularly in energy. We currently assume that external financing constraints will ease once a deal with holdout creditors is agreed, allowing Argentina to exit default. Combined with improvements in contract rights and with government incentives this should help to boost investment both in transport infrastructure and in energy. However, such projects will take time to come on stream, raising the risk that infrastructure bottlenecks will become a constraint on growth in the meantime.

7. ARGENTINA RISK: ALERT – RISK SCENARIO WATCHLIST (Economist Intelligence Unit – Risk Briefing)
29 January 2016

SECURITY
Drug-related violence increases
Moderate probability; Moderate impact; Risk intensity = 9

The Macri administration has made the reduction of drug-trafficking related violence a priority, but tackling the growing problem will not be easy. Argentina has had a major role in recent years as a transshipment point for the trafficking of cocaine between other areas of Latin America, including Paraguay, and Europe, and public perceptions of crime are rising. President Mauricio Macri has proposed an increase in security force staffing and a specific national anti-drugs agency to combat the issue. But measures to tackle drug-trafficking will also require strenuous efforts to reduce public-sector corruption and strengthen institutions, and this will prove extremely challenging. In this context, and although the Macri administration has put greater emphasis on the problem than his predecessor, there is a risk that drug-related violence continues to increase in the outlook period.

POLITICAL STABILITY
Unrest increases amid difficult economic adjustment measures
High probability; Moderate impact; Risk intensity = 12

Argentina has a long recent history of public protest, and with difficult economic adjustments on the cards in 2016, involving a loss of consumer purchasing power, further unrest is a strong risk in the next year. There are a number of possible triggers for discontent. One of these will be annual wage negotiations, which for the most part take place in the second quarter of each year. The government will be pressing for below-inflation wage rises, but negotiations will be extremely difficult assuming devaluation pushes (already high) inflation up further, towards 40%. Another trigger could be political opposition to efforts to agree a deal with holdout creditors. The issue of negotiating with holdouts, who are called ‘vultures’ in Argentina for buying the country’s defaulted debt at extremely depressed prices and seeking payment in full in the courts, is politically charged. The previous government, led by Ms Fernández, vowed never to give in to the holdouts. However, a deal to repay them is vital for Argentina to exit default and access external credit, and Mr Macri will undoubtedly take a pragmatic stance as he seeks to allow the country to finally resolve the question of default almost 15 years on from the 2001-02 crisis. The matter risks igniting political tensions and could prove an issue for the left to rally around in 2016.

GOVERNMENT EFFECTIVENESS
The legislature seeks to limit presidential power to rule by decree, creating the possibility of legislative gridlock and a stalled reform agenda
Moderate probability; High impact; Risk intensity = 12

The executive has substantial powers to rule by decree in Argentina. Extraordinary decree powers were first given to the executive during the deep economic crisis of 2001-02, and have been extended by a pro-government legislature dominated by the various factions of the Peronist party ever since. Ms Kirchner frequently made use of her decree powers. They have also been used during long congressional recesses (Congress is, for example, typically in recess from mid-December until March). The election of a president from outside the dominant Peronist party raises the risk that decree powers will be eliminated at some point in 2016-17. President Mauricio Macri has already issued some controversial decrees. The first was an attempt to appoint two Supreme Court justices by decree in January. Mr Macri noted that the Chief Justice had requested the rapid filling of the two vacant seats to avoid judicial paralysis, and stated that Congress would have the opportunity to approve the temporary appointments once it returned to work in March. The use of the decree for key judicial appointments nonetheless was criticised by many influential legislators. Mr Macri also modified by decree the Media Law, one of the more controversial reforms passed by the Fernandez administration. The law had placed a number of restrictions on media holdings, which Mr Macri has overturned. The president also removed political appointees to the telecommunications and media regulatory bodies by decree. These moves were criticised by Ms Fernandez’s Frente para la Victoria (a faction of the Peronist party), which has a large presence in both houses of Congress. Mr Macri continues to emphasise that immediate action is necessary in a host of areas to reform weak and politicised institutions, and that Congress will have the opportunity to approve or reject reforms when it returns in March. However, his methods leave him open to criticism that he does not respect Congress. This raises the risk that Congress moves to eliminate presidential decree powers. Amid heightened tensions with Congress, it also raises the risk that the reform agenda becomes stalled in the legislature.

LEGAL & REGULATORY
Failure to secure negotiated settlement with holdouts scuppers efforts to improve relations with investors and creditors
Moderate probability; High impact; Risk intensity = 12

Argentina’s sovereign default in July 2014 rendered essentially useless recent attempts to resolve a series of disputes in order to access external credit. These efforts included an agreement with the Paris Club in 2014 to restructure outstanding defaulted debt with creditor countries, payment of US$5bn in bonds in compensation to Spain’s Repsol for the expropriation of the company’s share in Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscale and the resolution of a series of claims involving the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. We assume that the Macri administration will work from 2016 to exit default (by arriving at a deal with holdout creditors) and normalise relations with creditor countries. But Mr Macri may have a hard time getting quick approval in the legislature for a deal with holdout creditors. Legislative approval is required to overturn the so-called lock law, which forbade the government from offering better terms to creditors than those presented during the 2005 and 2010 restructurings. There is a risk therefore that efforts to improve relations with creditors and investors across the board are scuppered.

MACROECONOMIC
The authorities fail to engineer a smooth transition to a more sustainable growth environment
High probability; Very high impact; Risk intensity = 20

Policy tightening, along with peso adjustment, will eventually have a beneficial impact on net exports. We also assume that some efforts will be made by the new government to address the problem of legal and regulatory uncertainty, which should set the stage for renewed strong growth in fixed investment, supporting an acceleration of GDP growth to an annual average of almost 4% in 2018-20. There are large downside risks to this forecast as attempts by the new administration to reduce economic distortions and engineer a relatively smooth adjustment to a lower inflation environment could prove extremely challenging amid an increasingly thin reserves cover. Import cover has been weakened by the use of reserves to shield the peso from currency pressures and to repay external debt, and the authorities have little firepower to defend the peso at present. There is also some upside risk, however, as investment could take off beyond expectations from 2017 onwards if macroeconomic adjustment goes smoothly and President Mauricio Macri takes rapid steps to restore confidence in the rule of law.

FOREIGN TRADE & PAYMENTS
Government fails to make progress on a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the EU
Moderate probability; Moderate impact; Risk intensity = 9

Mr Macri is likely to promote trade liberalisation that could speed up progress on the agreement of an FTA between the EU and the Mercado Común del Sur (Mercosur, the Southern Cone customs union). An EU-Mercosur free-trade deal was first mooted 20 years ago, but has made little headway in the face of growing trade protectionism in the past decade, particularly on the part of Argentina under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Mr Macri’s election will provide some fresh impetus to talks, which Uruguay, Paraguay and, more recently (in an about-turn from the government’s previous policy), Brazil have shown a strong interest in pursuing. During a visit by Mr Macri to Brazil in early December, strategy towards an EU-Mercosur FTA will have been high on the agenda, as will a generalised improvement of bilateral relations that could help to prop up the struggling automotive sectors in both countries. However, there will remain a number of obstacles to a deal, and Mr Macri may have to expend political capital elsewhere, suggesting strong risks that the FTA fails once again to get off the ground in 2016.

FINANCIAL
Peso overshooting occurs as the authorities attempt to engineer moderate currency adjustment
High probability; High impact; Risk intensity = 16

Currency adjustment under a new government has always been on the cards, and began in earnest in mid-December, when the authorities removed foreign-exchange controls and allowed the peso to devalue by 30% in one day on December 17th, to Ps13.8:US$1. The authorities are hoping that the rapid removal of controls will engender confidence in the transparency of policymaking, limiting US dollar outflows and eventually attracting new capital. However, the success of this strategy in coming weeks will require the build-up of a stronger reserves cushion to defend the peso from overshooting as the shift to a dirty float proceeds. The government states that it is expecting up to US$25bn in dollar inflows in the coming months with which to bolster the reserves. Sources of US dollars include a deal with farmers to liquidate hoarded soybean stocks, moves to convert renminbi to dollars under a currency swap agreement with China, and a proposed US$5bn loan from foreign banks. Despite these projected inflows, the rapid elimination of controls introduces risks of foreign-exchange market volatility in 2016, given the scale of pent-up demand for dollars to pay for imports to remit profits and for savings, and given the fact that current-account dynamics will remain poor for some time. However, our baseline forecast assumes a relatively orderly currency adjustment, with further gradual weakening over the course of the year, bringing the peso to Ps17.3:US$1 by the end of 2016. This adjustment should help to reverse the accumulated real appreciation of the peso over the past five years, which has eroded external competitiveness, and bring the real trade-weighted exchange rate close to 2012 levels.

TAX POLICY
Deterioration of provincial finances forces further ad hoc revenue-raising measures
High probability; Moderate impact; Risk intensity = 12

Reforms to the system of revenue-sharing with the provinces are badly needed to secure the stability of the tax system but are a political minefield, and continued delays on a comprehensive reform are in prospect. The opposition tried in 2010 to increase the percentage of revenue from the financial transactions tax that is transferred automatically to the provinces, from 15% to 54% of total, but the bill failed to prosper in a divided Congress. The executive has instead announced a series of rollovers of provincial debt. In December 2013 the government signed an agreement with 18 provinces to refinance Ps75bn (US$11.5bn) in debt, in an attempt to alleviate the tricky financial situation facing most provinces. The latest agreement (signed with all provinces, except Santa Fe, San Luis, La Pampa, Santiago del Estero, Formosa and the city of Buenos Aires—the capital—which do not owe debts to the central government) seeks to roll over debt originated in another restructuring programme, the so-called Programa Federal de Desendeudamiento de las Provincias Argentinas y de Asistencia Financiera, signed in 2010. In 2011 the government modified this programme, granting a longer grace period and scheduling the first debt-service payment for January 2014. The current weakness of the provincial finances would have made it extremely difficult for the provinces to comply with this commitment. The latest restructuring was not unexpected. We expect that the provinces’ weak finances will be another major challenge for the central government in 2015. However, we still do not expect the administration to take up the extremely difficult task of reforming the system of revenue-sharing between the provinces and the central government. This raises concerns that further measures will need to be taken to assist the provinces. Without a more comprehensive reform, weaknesses in the provincial finances will sustain the need for further central government bailouts and thus raise the risk of periodic ad hoc measures at the national level to increase tax revenue.

LABOUR MARKET
Skills shortages worsen
Moderate probability; Moderate impact; Risk intensity = 9

Skills shortages have become more of a problem for business in the past decade, compounded by a lack of effective training programmes in both the public and private sectors. Secondary and tertiary enrolment is very high by regional standards, but educational outcomes are not as strong as would be expected given these rates, and vary widely by province. At the same time, access to job training tends to be unequal and informal. In this context, and given our expectation of a pick-up in investment and employment late in the outlook period, skills shortages risk becoming a serious problem for business.

INFRASTRUCTURE
Despite recent intervention in the electricity sector, power shortages persist
Very high probability; Moderate impact; Risk intensity = 15

The risk of energy shortages will persist in the short term at least, given historical disincentives to investment in the sector and long project completion times. Demand for electricity and gas has soared in the past decade, owing to rapid economic growth and a freeze in tariffs for residential consumers, which will be removed only very gradually. Some major projects have recently been completed, including hydroelectric projects at Yacyretá and Caracoles, and a third nuclear plant, Atucha II. Beyond this, prospects are less certain. Despite Argentina’s vast hydroelectric potential, no further large projects are under way, notwithstanding a US$15bn deal with China announced in 2015 to construct a fourth and fifth nuclear reactor in the country, a deal that is to be reviewed by President Mauricio Macri and sent to Congress for approval. Argentina’s public sector does not currently have the financing capacity to drive forward major projects, and an improvement in the environment for private investment in gas, a key feedstock for the electricity sector, is required. Although we assume that these improvements will be forthcoming, in the form of tariff increases that make production more profitable and a clearer, more stable regulatory environment, production will take time to come on stream, and demand is likely to outstrip supply until the second half of the forecast period, steadily reducing the margin of excess capacity. In the short term at least, this will maintain dependence on imports, and increase exposure to weather-related problems at existing hydropower facilities.

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ARGENTINE UPDATE – Jan 28, 2016

31 enero, 2016

1. YAHOO IS SHUTTING OFFICES IN MEXICO, ARGENTINA TO TRIM COSTS (Bloomberg News)

2. ARGENTINA’S CLARIN PUSHES INTO MOBILE MARKET WITH NEXTEL BUY (Reuters News)

3. BRAZIL SEEKS FREE AUTO TRADE WITH ARGENTINA (Reuters News)

4. YAHOO TO SHUT ARGENTINA AND MEXICO OFFICES (Reuters News)

5. YAHOO TO CLOSE ARGENTINA, MEXICO OFFICES (The San Francisco Chronicle)

6. ARGENTINA’S BANKING SECTOR POISED FOR M&A (Business News Americas)

7. ARGENTINA’S MACRI MAKES UTILITY MOVE AHEAD OF ‘CHOPPIER’ POLITICS: TENEO (Barrons)

8. NEW ARGENTINA SUBSIDIARY JOINS ACTON INSTITUTE IN GLOBAL THINK TANK RANKINGS (Acton.org)

1. YAHOO IS SHUTTING OFFICES IN MEXICO, ARGENTINA TO TRIM COSTS (Bloomberg News)
By Brian Womack
January 28, 2016

Yahoo! Inc. is shutting down two offices in Latin America, seeking to trim costs by scaling back some international operations.

The Web portal will close sites in Mexico and Argentina, while keeping open offices in Brazil and Florida, according to a statement Thursday. The number of employees affected wasn’t disclosed, though the company said the offices are small.

“Yahoo is focused on maximizing growth,” the Sunnyvale, California-based company said. “Latin America is an important region for Yahoo and we will continue to invest in the people and products there.”

After more than three years of unsuccessful efforts to revive growth, sales remain in a slump, and pressure is mounting on Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer. The CEO is set to unveil a new plan to streamline the company’s operations by next week — one that’s likely to include job cuts, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

Yahoo is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 2. Analysts estimate that revenue, minus sales passed on to partners, declined 20 percent to $948.2 million.

2. ARGENTINA’S CLARIN PUSHES INTO MOBILE MARKET WITH NEXTEL BUY (Reuters News)
By Maximiliano Rizzi and Richard Lough
Jan 28, 2016

Argentine media firm Grupo Clarin S.A. said on Thursday its subsidiary Cablevision has taken full ownership of Nextel Communications Argentina, the country’s fourth-largest mobile telephone company.

Clarin’s move to take 100 percent ownership of Nextel gives it a greater stake in Argentina’s mobile market, in which Nextel holds a 3 percent share.

In a notice to the country’s market regulator, Clarin said Cablevision, Argentina’s leading cable-TV provider, exercised an option to buy an additional 51 percent stake in Nextel.

The deal is subject to approval by Argentina’s media watchdog ENACOM, established by new President Mauricio Macri who has eased restrictions on media ownership since he entered office in December.

Nextel faces much larger competitors in Argentina, such as Claro, owned by America Movil, Telecom Argentina’s Personal, and Telefonica’s Movistar.

Clarin on Sept 14 bought an initial 49 percent stake in Nextel, a subsidiary of NII Holdings Inc, a Latin American mobile service provider. Days later the-then AFTIC media regulator rejected the deal, but that decision was later suspended by a local court.

Clarin had been locked in a years-long battle with former President Cristina Fernandez that centred on the so-called Audiovisual Media Law introduced in 2009 that curbed media ownership. Clarin said Fernandez was taking deliberate aim at the company.

In its first month in power, Macri’s government dissolved the AFTIC watchdog and began easing restrictions laid out in the Audiovisual Media Law.

The law capped corporate ownership of the broadcasting market, with the controls also applying to the cable sector.

3. BRAZIL SEEKS FREE AUTO TRADE WITH ARGENTINA (Reuters News)
By Silvio Cascione
Jan 28, 2016

The Brazilian government will propose the full liberalization of vehicle trade with Argentina from July, newspaper Valor Econômico reported on Thursday.

Brazilian Trade minister Armando Monteiro will travel to Buenos Aires in February to make a formal offer, Valor added, without saying how it obtained the information.

The press offices of the Brazilian and Argentinian governments were not immediately available to comment.

Officials in both countries are already working on a potential deal, which was discussed by Finance Ministers Nelson Barbosa and his Argentinian counterpart Alfonso Prat-Gay last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Valor said.

Brazil also plans to propose a deal to allow companies from both countries to participate in public tenders under the same conditions as local firms, Valor reported.

The two states have imposed quotas on bilateral automobile trade despite being major partners in South America’s trading bloc Mercosur.

Brazil and Argentina are among the region’s most protectionist countries, but are moving to open their economies.

Argentina’s recently-elected President Mauricio Macri has vowed to reduce trade barriers with his country’s key trade partner.

His Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff is aggressively trying to open up new markets abroad in an attempt to revive an economy mired in its worst recession in nearly 30 years.

4. YAHOO TO SHUT ARGENTINA AND MEXICO OFFICES (Reuters News)
Jan 28, 2016

Yahoo Inc plans to close its offices in Argentina and Mexico, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The company will maintain its Latin American operations through its teams in Brazil and Coral Gables, Florida.

Yahoo declined to specify how many jobs were affected, but said the offices were “small sales-focused”.
Technology news website TechCrunch first reported the closures.

5. YAHOO TO CLOSE ARGENTINA, MEXICO OFFICES (The San Francisco Chronicle)
By Wendy Lee
29 January 2016

Yahoo said Thursday it plans to shut down its offices in Argentina and Mexico, as the struggling tech giant looks for ways to trim expenses.

The move was part of Yahoo’s focus on “maximizing growth,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Latin America is an important region for Yahoo and we will continue to invest in the people and products there,” the company said, adding that its teams in Brazil and Miami “remain vital” to Yahoo.

Yahoo declined to say how many employees would be affected, but said these were “small sales-focused offices.” A person familiar with the business said there were roughly 8 people in the Argentina office.

On Tuesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is expected to unveil her future plans for Yahoo, moves that will likely include layoffs, people familiar with the matter said. Mayer has been under pressure to turn around the struggling tech giant and sales results in the fourth quarter are expected to be weak.

6. ARGENTINA’S BANKING SECTOR POISED FOR M&A (Business News Americas)
28 January 2016

The banking sector in Argentina is likely to see a new wave of M&A activity in the next few years, a top bank executive told BNamericas.

The economic and financial reforms that the government of President Mauricio Macri is pursuing are set to increase competition among banks and trigger deal-making, said Norberto Rodríguez (pictured), board member at largest private sector bank Santander Rio.

The upcoming M&A activity could involve deals among local banks as well as foreign banks coming to Argentina, Rodríguez said, including institutions from other Latin American nations that view the Argentine market as attractive and with significant future potential.

Santander Rio will look at acquisition opportunities when they arise, but the bank’s main focus is on organic growth, he said.

“We have shown that you can gain market share through organic growth and it’s cheaper than buying market share through acquisitions,” said Rodríguez. A corporate culture clash is a significant risk when purchasing another bank, he added.

The subsidiary of Spanish banking giant Santander has a loan and deposit market share of around 10% in Argentina; the bank sees this as a floor and not a ceiling, said Rodríguez, who believes Santander can outperform the market in the coming years.

Santander Rio’s organic growth plan in Argentina entails opening some 40 branches a year – as it did in 2015 – for the near future, focusing on small and remote underserved towns.

7. ARGENTINA’S MACRI MAKES UTILITY MOVE AHEAD OF ‘CHOPPIER’ POLITICS: TENEO (Barrons)
By Teresa Rivas
January 28, 2016

Earlier this week, Argentina announced subsidy cuts for wholesale distributors through the end of April, an expected part of its push for fiscal consolidation, Teneo Intelligence’s Nicholas Watson writes.

While exact prices increases aren’t yet clear, they could be fairly substantial for some residents; yet they are so low now that new tariffs will still be below generating costs, Watson explains. He writes that another round of increases will likely take place after this structure expires in three months, but keeping inflation down is a major government concern, and could slow future cuts.

Moreover, though President Mauricio Macri has made plenty of changes early in his administration, political conditions are also poised to become more difficult next month, which explains the need to make moves now.

More detail from Watson’s note:

President Mauricio Macri retains the political latitude to push ahead with his gradual fiscal reduction plan. A recent poll put the president’s approval rating at 71%. Macri’s recent trip to Davos was a success, with Argentina widely seen as a relative bright spot amid an otherwise gloomy panorama for EMs; Macri brought back a major investment pledge from Coca-Cola, and has talked of up to USD 20bn in investment inflows in 2016. The government will also look to introduce palliative measures when congressional sessions start on 1 March; these include measures to reduce VAT on basic goods and lower the threshold at which income tax becomes payable. These measures will be essential if inflation is seen to jump significantly in the early part of this year.

However, the political window for adjustments will not remain open for long. The political waters are set to become choppier from late-February. First, collective salary negotiations with the Buenos Aires provincial teachers’ union are set to begin in mid-February; these negotiations usually set a marker for other union wage talks extending into March. The inflationary effects of December’s devaluation and the subsidy cuts will make this year’s wage talks challenging for the government. Second, former president Cristina Fernandez (2007-15) is planning to launch her new foundation in late-February; the launch event will mark Fernandez’s re-entry into the political fray as she attempts to position herself as the strongest opponent to Macri within the broad Peronist movement. Although the Peronists are split, which offers Macri an opportunity to leverage divisions for political gain, Fernandez remains a formidable adversary.

The Global X MSCI Argentina exchange-traded fund (ARGT) is climbing 1.2% in recent trading. Among utilities with ADRs, Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora Norte S.A. (EDN) is up 1.6% and Pampa Energia (PAM) is up 2%.

8. NEW ARGENTINA SUBSIDIARY JOINS ACTON INSTITUTE IN GLOBAL THINK TANK RANKINGS (Acton.org)
January 28, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Jan. 28, 2016)—The Acton Institute made another strong showing in a leading ranking of global think tanks which showed the Grand Rapids-based research and educational institution among the best organizations of its kind in the United States and abroad. Acton’s new Argentina subsidiary in Buenos Aires, Instituto Acton, made its first appearance among the “best independent think tanks” category. The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) released its 2015 Global Go-To Think Tanks Report today.

Highlights from the 2015 University of Pennsylvania report:

Acton Institute is 9th (out of 90) in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks ranking (9th in 2014).
Acton Institute is 29th (out of 75) in the Top Think Tanks in the United States (29th in 2014).
In Top Think Tanks Worldwide, Acton ranks 155th (out of 175) (previously unranked).
10th in Best Advocacy Campaign (11th in 2014) for PovertyCure.
17th (out of 61) in Best Think Tank Conference (17th in 2014) for Acton University.
Instituto Acton was ranked 100th (out of 144) Best Independent Think Tanks.
The Think Tank & Civil Societies Program maintains comprehensive data on more than 6,500 think tanks worldwide, of those more than half are considered in the ranking, but fewer than 300 organizations make it into the final report. Free market think tanks had a strong presence on the report this year, taking top spots in several categories in the U.S. and internationally.

While the TTCSP has been in existence for more than 25 years, this is the program’s 9th ranking report. James G. McGann, director of the program said that the goal of this research and report is “to increase the profile and performance of think tanks and raise the public awareness of the important role think tanks play in governments and civil societies around the globe.”

The program has a rigorous ranking criteria which includes: the “quality and commitment of the think tank’s leadership;” the “quality, number, and reach of its publications;” the think tank’s “reputation with policymakers;” its “media reputation;” its “ability to produce new knowledge;” “financial stewardship;” and the organization’s “impact on society.”

The Go-To Think Tank Report also included some interesting facts about think tanks: 30 percent of all think tanks are located in North America and 27 percent are in Europe. The United States has the most think tanks with 1,830, followed by China with 429. In the United States, Washington, D.C., has the most of any state or district with 396 and Michigan is home to 30 other think tanks besides Acton.

The full report here: http://www.timbro.se/pdf/2015-Go-To-Think-Tank-Report.pdf

Impacts

A recession is likely this year and growth thereafter will remain muted.

The continuing economic malaise in Brazil will also be a drag on manufacturing recovery.

The political panorama is currently fluid but is likely to solidify in opposition to Macri.

Outlook

Despite some international applause for new President Mauricio Macri’s efforts to roll back the policy choices of the 2003-15 Kirchner governments, domestic opinion is broadly sceptical and short-term expectations poor.

Macri’s tendency to opt for decrees thus far – an approach adopted by his predecessor, who was much criticised for it – is likely to stiffen opposition, especially in provinces where his government, characterised as pro-finance and pro-business, is not seen as representative of views outside the capital.

The dominant Peronist party is in some disarray and in search of new leadership, leaving an opening for Macri to reach accords with at least some factions. However, the party will regroup quickly; governing without at least some Peronist backing is likely to prove near impossible.

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INTERVENTOR JUDICIAL AL BANCO CENTRAL

31 enero, 2016

ARGENTINA SALVAJIZADA

Las noticias que corren respecto a las reservas de Argentina y del Banco Central, y las deudas de nuestro país con el exterior, prima facie demuestera que existe un conflicto múltiple de intereses, entre el Poder Ejecutivo (que quiere disponer de los fondos), el Congreso Nacional (que cree que le corresponde a él según la Constitución el manejo del Estado, y también están en pleito dos “players” importantes: la provincia de San Luis que tiene una demanda iniciada en jurisdicción originaria de la Corte Suprema para preservar las reservas, y el supuestamente inamovible, pero desplazado Presidente del Banco Central, licenciado Redrado.

Como si fuera poco, la Presidenta Fernandez de Kirchner habría dicho que Redrado no podrá entrar nunca mas al Banco, y se supone que la policía impedirá ingresar por orden del Ejecutivo, al mencionado Redrado. Lo cual motivaría quizás una presentación de sus abogados para que este mismo fin…

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UN EQUIPO ECONÓMICO DESOBEDIENTE (La Nueva Provincia 5-8-85 )

30 enero, 2016

ARGENTINA SALVAJIZADA

 

La “ley de la tendencia” indica que estamos saliendo de la pesadilla y de la decadencia, luego de décadas de desgobierno; militar y políticamente, hemos abandonado ese dirigismo “fascistoide”, y nuestro presidente ha manifestado públicamente que nos quiere conducir hacia un sistema económico al estilo occidental, es decir, con libertad.

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ARGENTINE UPDATE – Jan 27, 2016

29 enero, 2016

WEDNESDAY
1. ARGENTINA AND ARAMCO ARE DEALS FOR DIFFICULT TIMES (The New York Times)

2. NEW HEAD OF ARGENTINA’S FINANCIAL-CRIMES AGENCY AIMS TO REPAIR TIES WITH U.S. (The Wall Street Journal Online)

3. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: SMALL MARKET, GLOBAL MINDSET (Financial Times)

4. ARGENTINA SUCCUMBS TO BOND TURMOIL AS MACRI EUPHORIA CAST ASIDE (Bloomberg News)

5. CHAVEZ’S DREAM OF UNITY STUMBLES AHEAD OF LATIN AMERICAN SUMMIT (Bloomberg News)

6. ARGENTINA ORDERS HALT TO LATAM AIRLINES WORKERS’ STRIKE (Reuters News)

7. ARGENTINA EYES RAISING NATURAL GAS PRICES TO BOOST OUTPUT: GOVERNOR (Platts)

8. MACRI’S ‘HONEYMOON’ TO END WITH UNION SALARY TALKS (Business News Americas)

9. PAE, TECPETROL FACE ARGENTINA OIL PRICE CONUNDRUM (Business News Americas)

10. ARGENTINA GAS PRODUCERS NEED MORE FEDERAL SUPPORT – GOVERNOR (Business News Americas)

11. PAMPA ENERGIA DEBT SHELF SPARKS M&A TALK (Reuters News)

12. ARGENTINE CORN CROP SUFFERS LOSSES DUE TO DROUGHT –EXPERT (Reuters News)

13. ARGENTINA: WILL OIL, GAS FRACKING BRING YPF 50% UPSIDE? (Barrons)

14. WHAT? ARGENTINA CONSIDERS IMPORTING BEEF (PRI org)

1. ARGENTINA AND ARAMCO ARE DEALS FOR DIFFICULT TIMES (The New York Times)
By Rob Cox
Jan. 26, 2016

Two big deals dominated the agenda in Davos, Switzerland, last week: Argentina’s negotiations with holdout creditors and Saudi Arabia’s potential sale of a piece of its national energy leviathan, Saudi Aramco.

One would open up a robust democracy to global markets after years of feckless governance and isolation. The other would help a repressive regime retain its grip. That both would arguably leave the world better off underlines its fragile state.

The plutocrats assembled in Davos at the World Economic Forum, which concluded on Saturday, spent most of their time reassuring each other that sliding stock markets represent no threat to their prosperity similar to the 2008 financial crisis. When their discussions ventured further afield – and beyond the surging poll numbers of Donald J. Trump’s presidential bid — Argentina and Saudi Arabia were front and center. They represent starkly divergent developments that, while not suggestive of crisis at the doorstep, showcase the tenuous nature of global stability.

Argentina’s return to the economic mainstream is the happier of the two. The newly elected president, Mauricio Macri, hopes to reach a settlement with creditors led by Elliott Management who went unpaid when his predecessors defaulted. Though Mr. Macri said he had not met with Elliott’s leader, Paul Singer, his delegation of cabinet members, including his finance minister and a former JPMorgan banker, Alfonso Prat-Gay, and even the leader of the opposition party, charmed the pants off the international bankers and world leaders in attendance.

In addition, the Argentines used their Swiss visit to meet with bank chief executives to lay the groundwork for expanding the country’s dollar reserves. By lending money to the central bank in return for as-yet-to-be-determined collateral – via a so-called repo operation – financial institutions can help bring Argentina back to the markets. That presumably entails support from the International Monetary Fund, with whom Mr. Macri and his entourage also tangoed in Davos.

As Mr. Macri made a point of noting, that will benefit everyone. In an interview with Reuters, he boasted that Argentina’s agricultural industry could feed 600 million people – but only if it could reach them.

“For that we need infrastructure. We need roads, ports — for that we need financing,” he said. “We are near,” he continued, to having “the worst logistics in Latin America. That’s a great opportunity also for companies and investors.”

Mr. Macri’s performance should increase external pressure on the hedge fund holdouts headed by Elliott to accept any offer that looks objectively reasonable. Mr. Singer has a strong track record of holding fast to his legal convictions, but does he really want to be known as the man who deprived the world’s hunger of prime Argentine beef?

Contrast Argentina with the other big deal floating around Davos: a stock offering from the national petroleum company of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Bankers on Wall Street and in the City of London were feverishly preparing underwriting proposals last week for the share sale, which would probably be limited to a downstream division of Aramco to avoid shining the full spotlight of transparency on the parent’s books and vast oil reserves.

Top executives from banks working on the pitches professed little alacrity about the deal, for reasons that are both selfish and moral. On the first point, though an initial public offering of Aramco could be the biggest equity deal in history, the fees will be negligible. The last big Saudi Arabian I.P.O., a $6 billion offering for National Commercial Bank in November 2014, paid underwriting commissions of below 0.1 percent. By contrast, the Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba paid 12 times as much to the banks that took it public in a $25 billion deal two years ago.

That might be tolerable to the banks if the deal were of a more philosophically palatable character, along the lines of, say, restoring Argentina’s access to credit. Saudi Arabia last year summarily executed more than 150 people, the most in two decades, according to Amnesty International. Notwithstanding Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s talk of transparency, the offering has to be seen as part of the Al Saud dynasty’s coping mechanism for sliding oil prices and the damage this is doing to the finances of the kingdom.

Sustained low oil prices, partly the result of the kingdom’s hopes to squeeze out higher-cost producers from Iran to Calgary and from North Dakota to Brazil, threaten the social spending that is critical to keeping social unrest at bay. As my colleague Andy Critchlow estimates, Riyadh may need to sell half a trillion dollars of assets to cover budget shortfalls if oil hits $20 a barrel.

In an Aramco I.P.O., there’s no money to be made and no pathway to moral redemption. So why participate? Though the idea of financing a regime that kicked off this year with 47 beheadings is troubling, the alternative would be worse for global stability: a chaotic, Libya-style breakdown.

It’s naïve to think that financiers alone have the power to prevent Saudi Arabia from spreading geopolitical anxiety or to turn Argentina into a trustworthy, developed market. But given the delicate state of the global economy, World Economic Forum bankers should give it their best shot.

2. NEW HEAD OF ARGENTINA’S FINANCIAL-CRIMES AGENCY AIMS TO REPAIR TIES WITH U.S. (The Wall Street Journal Online)
By Taos Turner
27 January 2016

Mariano Federici charged with bolstering fight against money laundering, drug trafficking

BUENOS AIRES—President Mauricio Macri on Tuesday appointed a former International Monetary Fund official to head Argentina’s financial crimes agency, in a move that aims to bolster the country’s contribution to the global fight against money laundering and drug trafficking and to improve the agency’s relations with its counterpart in the U.S.

Mariano Federici, the agency’s new head, said a priority for the agency is to restore full ties with the U.S. Treasury Department, which has its own financial crimes agency, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. The U.S. stopped providing Argentina with financial intelligence last year, Argentine officials said, amid concerns that authorities in the government of then President Cristina Kirchner had used confidential information from FinCEN for political purposes in a court case here.

In recent years, law-enforcement officials here say, Argentina has become a destination for narco-trafficking organizations that transport cocaine and other drugs into the country. Authorities say the groups are setting up drug-processing labs and fighting for control of the trade, leading to a spike in homicides in some cities.

“We are going to put a very strong emphasis on fighting drug trafficking, which is a priority for Macri,” Mr. Federici said in an interview last week. “We think this is one of the most serious threats facing the country.”

Mr. Federici said the agency will also focus heavily on working with local financial institutions, including banks and casinos, to combat international terrorism. “Our contribution to the global fight against terrorism is often underestimated, even though we suffered two terrorist attacks in Argentina,” Mr. Federici said, referring to car bombings that targeted the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center here in the 1990s.

Argentina’s financial crimes agency is one of about 150 financial intelligence units around the world, which are used to detect financial crimes, including money laundering and the financing of terror groups. FIUs, among them Treasury’s FinCEN, share confidential information to track the illegal use of financial institutions.

Mr. Federici was a top anti-money-laundering official at the IMF and worked with Latin American countries to combat it. That is a priority for Argentina, where officials here say drug-trafficking gangs from Mexico and Colombia have been moving money.

During Mrs. Kirchner’s tenure, the U.S. stopped sending information to Argentina from FinCEN in 2009 and again in 2015 amid concerns that confidential information was being used for political purposes, Argentine officials said. FinCEN and U.S. Treasury representatives declined to comment on the breakdown in relations.

Last year, the U.S. Justice Department rejected a request by Argentina to let it use information from FinCEN in a court case against the family of a prominent prosecutor. Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor, had accused Mrs. Kirchner of trying to sabotage his investigation into the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aries that left 85 people dead.

In September, Argentina’s ambassador to the U.S., Cecilia Nahón, said in a letter to the State Department that Argentina was frustrated by U.S. delays in replying to requests by the judge for help in obtaining additional information that could be used as evidence in the case against Mr. Nisman’s family.

“All we see are unjustified delays and unnecessary bureaucratic delays, which do not allow for the judicial investigations to move forward,” said the letter, which was published on Argentina’s presidential news site.

Mr. Nisman was found dead with a bullet wound to his head, on January 18, 2015, a day before he was scheduled to testify about his allegations in Congress. A federal judge and an appellate court declined to investigate Mr. Nisman’s accusations, saying there was no evidence any crime had been committed relating to his investigation.

José Sbattella, who ran Argentina’s financial crimes agency until last month, said he was unable to prevent the federal judge from using classified intelligence material from FinCEN in the case against Mr. Nisman and his family. The judge’s actions, he said, violated Argentina’s agreement with the U.S. to keep information from FinCEN confidential. He said the judge acted on his own and that Argentina’s FIU had no legal authority to stop him. He denied that the agency mishandled any information last year.

An appellate court eventually removed the judge from the case, citing concerns about his impartiality. Mr. Nisman’s relatives are trying to get the case thrown out. The judge couldn’t be reached to comment.

Mr. Sbattella acknowledges that Argentina’s FIU leaked classified material from FinCEN to a pro-government newspaper here in 2009, a year before he was appointed to the agency. He says he spent much of his tenure trying to improve relations with FinCEN.

“All that time we kept sending information to FinCEN,” Mr. Sbattella said Tuesday.

Under Mr. Macri, Argentina has moved to repair relations with Washington, Europe and global financial institutions, among them the International Monetary Fund.

A U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson said Argentina “has an important role to play in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing,” adding that “Treasury is encouraged by recent efforts to strengthen Argentina’s FIU, and looks forward to positive collaboration with Argentina on these issues.”

3. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: SMALL MARKET, GLOBAL MINDSET (Financial Times)
By Benedict Mander
January 26, 2016

E7PY7K Overview of white homes in River Plata and Belgrano suburb with Stadium in Buenos Aires

Population 13m (Greater metropolitan area)
Corporation tax 35%
Setting up 3-6 months (urgent filings under 15 days)

Buenos Aires is home to a rich blend of peoples and cultures, whose origins range from Spain, Italy and eastern Europe to China, Africa and the US. Recently, it has become a magnet for people from many South American neighbours.

The case for: The diverse and creative population has benefited from an excellent public education system, as well as some 40 universities (mostly private) and more than 30 research centres.

Last year, the city’s efforts to foster a start-up cluster won the Cities Challenge of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, organised by the Kauffman Foundation. The market-friendly government led by the centre-right President Mauricio Macri has grand plans to make Argentina a “normal” country again.

Buenos Aires also boasts bookshops and theatres to rival other cultural capitals of the world. With fine weather and pleasing architecture, this “Paris of the South” is a great place to live.

The case against: Plagued by periodic financial and political crises, Argentina could win the prize for the world’s worst-performing economy, having lost its status as one of the richest countries a century ago. It ranks as one of the region’s worst countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. Paradoxically, however, double and sometimes triple-digit inflation and all manner of economic controls such as the recently removed strict capital controls has bred a financially savvy population.

Support for start-ups: Venture capital is thin on the ground and many start-ups seek funding from overseas, although that is starting to change. Kaszek Ventures has raised more than $200m since it was founded in 2011, and investor optimism over economic reform is expected to create opportunities. More accelerators such as NXTP Labs, set up in 2011, and publicly backed schemes, such as an entrepreneurship academy with free live and online courses launched by the city of Buenos Aires, are emerging. Endeavor, an international non-profit organisation that supports entrepreneurs operates here.

Local heroes: Buenos Aires has fostered some of the region’s most successful tech start-ups. MercadoLibre, Latin America’s answer to eBay, is the region’s only internet company listed on Nasdaq. Globant, which develops software for clients such as Google and Coca-Cola, became the region’s first software company to float on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Despegar , the online travel company, may soon follow suit.

What the locals say: “The market size here may be relatively small, but entrepreneurs have a much more global mindset . . . In Argentina, from the get-go entrepreneurs are pushed to think beyond our borders and aspire to be part of the region,” says Gabriela Macagni, executive director of Endeavor.

Martín Migoya, Globant’s chief executive and co-founder, says being in the same timezone as the huge market in North America, where most of its clients are, is a huge plus.

4. ARGENTINA SUCCUMBS TO BOND TURMOIL AS MACRI EUPHORIA CAST ASIDE (Bloomberg News)
By Carolina Millan
January 26, 2016

* Country’s bonds sink 3.9%, twice emerging-market average
* Argentina’s benchmark notes hit nine-year high last month

Argentina managed to sidestep an emerging-market bond rout late last year on optimism newly elected President Mauricio Macri will end the nation’s isolation. But now, the deepening selloff roiling global markets is proving to be too much for investors to ignore.

The country’s dollar-denominated notes have lost 3.9 percent this month, more than three times the average in emerging markets, data compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co. show. Its benchmark bonds due in 2033 have slid 4.1 percent from a nine-year high reached Dec. 30 and are now trading at the lowest price since Macri was elected Nov. 22.

While Macri has followed through on promises to dismantle currency controls and start negotiations with disgruntled creditors since taking office last month, the turmoil in global markets fueled by plunging commodity prices upended a plan to sell local notes and fueled the decline in overseas notes as investors dumped risky assets. Argentina’s foreign debt is rated Caa2 by Moody’s Investors Service, eight levels below investment grade. Standard & Poor’s has a SD, or selective default, grade on the debt.

“There’s been a strong risk-off in emerging markets, and even if Argentina has been separate from other global trends, it’s not immune,” said Joaquin Almeyra, a fixed-income trader at Bulltick LLC. “You’ve seen a lot of pain across Latin America and this was a question of contagion.”

5. CHAVEZ’S DREAM OF UNITY STUMBLES AHEAD OF LATIN AMERICAN SUMMIT (Bloomberg News)
By Nathan Gill
January 27, 2016

* Regional leaders meet in Quito to discuss integration agenda
* Spat between Venezuela, Argentina escalates as Macri cancels

Before he died, Venezuela’s late president, Hugo Chavez, had a dream to unite Latin America and the Caribbean against the dark forces of the U.S. empire. It’s not working out like he planned.

As presidents and prime ministers from the regional group CELAC meet Wednesday in an attempt to knit closer ties, President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s hand-picked successor, finds himself fending off attacks from the nation’s former ally, Argentina.

“Why does a country have to put up with the whole onslaught of right-wing governments,” Maduro said Saturday after Argentina’s newly-elected president, Mauricio Macri, criticized his government’s human-rights record. “I’m going to the summit of Latin America and the Caribbean nations in Quito with everything. No one is going to shut me up.”

While it’s unlikely anyone will shut Maduro up, his feud with Macri highlights political divisions across the region, where governments from Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to Ecuador’s Rafael Correa are struggling to fend off allegations of corruption and economic mismanagement after a collapse in global commodity prices plunged their economies into recession. The bickering can only weaken CELAC, said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

“Venezuela historically has wanted to push confrontation with the U.S. and within Latin America,” Arnson said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “If CELAC is going to be merely a forum for ideological confrontation, it will quickly lose relevance.”

CELAC vs OAS

CELAC, the acronym for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, was formed in 2011 at a summit in Caracas to help integrate the region and provide a forum to resolve disputes without the intervention of the U.S. and Canada. At the time, Chavez predicted the group would replace the Organization of American States, which includes the North American countries.

For now, the OAS is holding its ground. Whereas 34 of 35 heads of state attended the last meeting of the OAS in Panama last year, 27 of 33 are confirmed for Wednesday’s meeting in Quito. Among those missing are the heads of state of Cuba, Uruguay, El Salvador and Argentina.

Macri, who defeated the official candidate of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s political party in December, called for the release of prisoners in Venezuela who human rights groups say are being held for political reasons. His press office said Sunday that doctors had advised him not to travel to the summit because of a rib injury.

The other leaders from the member states will discuss poverty reduction and inequality, climate change, infrastructure financing and immigration, among other issues, according to Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry.

“The real question for CELAC is what kind of organization it proposes to be,” Arnson said. “It’s important that there be regional institutions, but as yet there does not seem to be a clear agenda.”

6. ARGENTINA ORDERS HALT TO LATAM AIRLINES WORKERS’ STRIKE (Reuters News)
By Richard Lough
Jan 26, 2016

Argentina’s labor ministry ordered striking aviation employees to resume wage talks with LATAM Airlines and return to work, a ministry official said on Tuesday, after their walkout grounded four flights out of Buenos Aires’ main airport.

The workers, who belong to Argentina’s Union of Commercial Airline Senior and Professional Personnel, went on strike at dawn at Ezeiza International Airport over stalled pay negotiations.

An online departure board on the website of airport operator Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 showed delays of four flights from Buenos Aires to Chile, Peru and Brazil.

Local TV showed snaking queues in the Ezeiza check-in hall, and passengers were advised to contact the company.
Labor relations are prickly in Argentina, where trade unions routinely butt heads with private companies and the government over the scale of pay increases.

A spokeswoman confirmed the mandatory negotiations but said she had no further details.
The strike is a sign of what is to come for President Mauricio Macri ahead of wage talks with the country’s most powerful unions in the coming weeks. Macri oversaw the lifting of capital controls that led to a sharp devaluation of the peso .

LATAM operates TAM in Brazil and LAN Airlines in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.
In a separate dispute with the Argentine Federation of Aeronautic Personnel, or FAPA, the government earlier this month ordered salary talks between pilots and LAN Argentina.

Union officials said both pay rows would fester if the company did not offer a bigger salary increase.

“At the end of the month the compulsory talks between LAN Argentina and the FAPA union will end, and we’re likely to have another conflict because the pay offer the company has made is very low,” Sergio Mercau, a spokesman for an affiliated pilots union, told TV channel C5N.

7. ARGENTINA EYES RAISING NATURAL GAS PRICES TO BOOST OUTPUT: GOVERNOR (Platts)
By Charles Newbery
26 Jan 2016

Argentina is considering raising natural gas prices to boost production so that producers can sustain employment levels even as low global oil prices raise the threat of layoffs, a provincial governor said Tuesday.

Omar Gutierrez, governor of the gas-rich Neuquen province, said he is working on the plan for higher prices with Guillermo Pereyra, a national senator who also runs the Union of Private Oil and Gas Workers in the southwestern provinces of La Pampa, Neuquen and Rio Negro.

Gutierrez said they have taken the proposal to national Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren, and will meet with him again.

“Neuquen has a very significant opportunity to provide the larger gas supplies that the country needs,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “We are working to achieve a higher average price.”

The price for gas supplies from new developments, mostly of shale and tight gas production, is now at $7.50/MMBtu, while it runs between $2.70/MMBtu and $3.00/MMBtu for supplies from older, conventional gas wells.

Gutierrez said the idea is to increase the price to an average $5.80/MMBtu for supplies from older wells.

This increase would come in response to a national plan gradually to eliminate subsidies on electricity and gas rates. The move will lead to higher rates and wellhead prices from February, reducing the strain on public finances and providing more incentives to companies to ramp up exploration and production.

The higher price “will make new investments possible,” the governor said.

Another benefit is that higher gas prices will help mitigate the impact of lower oil prices, he added.

At the start of the year, the national government reached an agreement with oil producers to cut domestic crude prices by 10% to $54.90/b for heavier crudes produced in the south and to $67.50/b for a light crude produced in Neuquen.

While domestic crude prices are still higher than the around $30/b international price, the 10% drop has put at risk investments in oil exploration and production, in particular for crude for export. 532,000 b/d crude production.

Neuquen, by comparison, produces 20% of Argentina’s 532,000 b/d crude production and 47% of its 120 million cu m/d of gas, according to the Argentine Oil and Gas Institute (IAPG) industry group.

There is room to increase gas production because Argentina is running a deficit of 8% in gas supplies that peaks at 50% in the colder months of May to September. This has brought seasonal shortages that are partially plugged by importing an average of 30 million cu m/d of supplies from Bolivia by pipeline and from the global market via two floating regasification terminals.

Neuquen holds huge potential to increase gas output from shale and tight plays, including Vaca Muerta, which is starting to be brought into production by YPF, Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total and other companies.

8. MACRI’S ‘HONEYMOON’ TO END WITH UNION SALARY TALKS (Business News Americas)
26 January 2016

The ‘honeymoon’ period of Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri will end when union salary negotiations begin in March, says former central bank president Martin Redrado.

Macri came to power in December and has moved quickly to change the previous economic model of heavy state intervention and strict controls, including doing away with FX controls, cutting export taxes and starting talks with holdout creditors.

The outcome of the salary negotiations could have an impact on several key issues for the government, including lowering inflation, reducing the fiscal deficit and maintaining a stable FX rate, Redrado told a Scotiabank seminar in the Chilean capital Santiago. These difficult negotiations with strong unions will also show how capable Marci and his team really are in governing a country such as Argentina, Redrado added.

All the important unions are expected to request salary increases of at least 30%, and such hikes would make it very difficult to reach this year’s inflation target, Redrado said.

Finance minister Alfonso Prat-Gay announced earlier this month an inflation-targeting plan, with the goal of gradually bringing down price increases to 5% in 2019, from 20-25% this year.

Meanwhile, the legislative period begins in March and Macri will have to negotiate reforms with congress, where he does not have a majority. The good news for Macri, said Redrado, is that the Peronist movement is fragmented, and this could open up bipartisan deal-making opportunities.

SO FAR SO GOOD

The Macri government is off to a very good start but the future challenges are “enormous” since the previous government left the country’s economic indicators in a state of despair, said Redrado.

A GDP contraction and an annual inflation rate of around 30% is the most likely scenario for this year, but 2017 could see 3-4% GDP growth and 20% annual inflation if the government is able to advance with its ambitious reform agenda, Redrado said.

The Harvard-trained economist believes Argentina will reach an agreement with the holdouts this year, which would allow the country to return to the international markets again and reap the benefits of lower-cost financing. The most important thing in this complex issue is that Argentina’s attitude towards the holdouts – referred to by former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as “vulture funds” – has completely changed under Macri, he said.

Redrado was head of Argentina’s monetary authority during 2004-10 and he is the founder of economic think tank Fundación Capital. Fernández de Kirchner dismissed Redrado from his post in early 2010 due to his opposition to the use of central bank reserves to help finance the a growing fiscal deficit.

9. PAE, TECPETROL FACE ARGENTINA OIL PRICE CONUNDRUM (Business News Americas)
26 January 2016

Although Argentina’s government-fixed domestic oil prices have sustained E&P investment through the current global downturn, producers in Chubut province have been unable to reap the full benefits.

That’s because up to 40% of output from the province is exported, according to a report from state news service Télam.

Prices for Argentina’s Medanito and Escalante benchmark crudes averaged US$77/b and US$63/b, respectively, during 2015, the report said, citing BP-controlled Pan American Energy (PAE) and Argentine firm Tecpetrol as Chubut’s main oil exporters.

By comparison, WTI crude averaged US$48.67/b, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The Medanito light crude blend is produced in the Neuquén basin, while the medium Escalante blend comes from the Golfo San Jorge basin (pictured), which straddles provinces Chubut and Santa Cruz.

Due to a lack of refining capacity, there is less internal demand for the heavier Escalante, the report said, forcing Chubut producers to export it at global prices, which have hit their lowest point in over a decade.

Citing production costs of US$35/b, and with WTI futures trading at around US$30/b as of Tuesday, Chubut oil exporters have asked for support from the government of President Mauricio Macri to sustain production, the report said.

Meanwhile, Macri’s energy ministry has set the internal market prices for Medanito and Escalante at US$63.50/b and US$54.90/b as of January.

Analysts at Raymond James this week projected that Macri will probably keep prices stable for the rest of 2016, but that the medium-term goal is to bring local prices in line with global benchmarks.

10. ARGENTINA GAS PRODUCERS NEED MORE FEDERAL SUPPORT – GOVERNOR (Business News Americas)
26 January 2016

The governor of Argentina’s Neuquén province, Omar Gutiérrez, called on the national government to maintain and expand subsidies for natural gas producers.

Argentina guarantees a wellhead price of US$7.50/MMBtu for new natural gas production, under a measure implemented in 2012 to stimulate investment and reverse declining output.

By comparison, according to a report in state-run newspaper Neuquén Informa, the domestic market price for natural gas currently fluctuates between US$2.70 and US$3.00/MMBtu, with the federal government absorbing the difference.

The government also subsidizes end-use of natural gas for consumers, creating a situation widely cited by experts as unsustainable, and which energy secretary Juan José Aranguren has pledged to address through gradual subsidy reform.

But as subsidies to gas consumers are phased out, federal assistance to gas producers should be strengthened, Gutiérrez argued, according to the report.

The governor cited a desire, on the part of Argentina’s gas-producing provinces and labor unions, to maintain the US$7.50/MMBtu price for “new gas” and to fix an average price of US$5.80/MMBtu for “old gas.”

Gutiérrez pointed to the government’s artificially high domestic oil price as an essential tool that should be replicated for natural gas.

Argentina’s new President Mauricio Macri and minister Aranguren face a formidable challenge as they aim to return the local energy sector to a more market-based, international model while keeping the hydrocarbon-producing provinces – which largely voted against Macri in the November presidential election – happy.

The four important groups in Neuquén’s oil and gas sector, Gutiérrez said, are the private operators; the workers’ union; the provincial government, which awards and renews E&P concessions; and the national government, which sets pricing policy.

Neuquén province is home to the Vaca Muerta shale deposit, where firms including national oil company YPF, Chevron, Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil continue to ramp up investment in unconventional E&P.

11. PAMPA ENERGIA DEBT SHELF SPARKS M&A TALK (Reuters News)
26 January 2016

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (IFR) – Pampa Energia’s shareholders have approved a US$500m debt program, raising speculation that the Argentine utility is accumulating a war chest for an acquisition of Petrobras assets.

Pampa CEO Marcelo Mindlin has expressed an interest in buying the Brazilian oil company’s Argentine assets.

And local press reported the company had been analyzing an offer for a stake of slightly more than 60% for US$1bn-US$1.3bn.

“They were bidding for Petrobras assets, so you can assume there is an acquisition finance behind that (debt shelf) and possibly a bond take-out,” said a DCM banker focused on Argentina.

Analysts at Raymond James wrote last month that acquiring an up to 67% stake in Petrobras Argentina could be financed through debt and the sale of assets, given the credit’s low leverage.

As of the third quarter last year, the company had a net debt to Ebitda ratio of just 0.1 times, which would jump to around 1.3 times if it bought 67% of Petrobras in the US$1bn-US$1.3bn range, the analysts said.

Pampa is the country’s largest electricity company and is expected to benefit from the eventual lifting of utility tariffs as newly installed President Mauricio Macri looks to establish more market-friendly policies.

Changes to the existing tariff structure are expected to be announced as soon as February, as part of the government’s effort to cut the growing fiscal deficit.

“We favor Pampa as it offers exposure to the generation sector, which we believe will be the best-performing segment in the industry, while benefiting from the improvement in profitability in the other businesses (transmission and distribution),” said Raymond James.

The company’s early-stage backers cashed in on those prospects late last year through an all-secondary US$74.6m follow-on offering.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch was sole bookrunner.

Yet while market optimism about policy changes in Argentina is high, sliding crude prices and broader volatility is likely to up the cost of any bond take-out.

“It is still Argentina and it is still high-yield,” the DCM banker said.

“The US high-yield market is not healthy at the moment, and I don’t think the tariff issue alone will drive values.”

Possible comps for Pampa Energia include other Argentine utilities such as Transener, TGS and Edenor.

According to Thomson Reuters data, those companies have 9.75% 2021s, 9.625% 2020s and 9.75% 2022s trading at mid-market yields of around 11.20%, 9% and 9.8%, respectively.

12. ARGENTINE CORN CROP SUFFERS LOSSES DUE TO DROUGHT –EXPERT (Reuters News)
26 January 2016

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Drought has caused irrecoverable corn crop losses in some areas of Argentina despite the El Niño weather phenomenon which usually triggers heavy rains in South America, an analyst at the country’s main grains exchange said.

Argentina is the fourth largest exporter worldwide of the grain and farmers raced to plant more in recent weeks after the new, business-friendly government eliminated export taxes and quotas for corn.

However, a lack of rain and high temperatures in the north east of the province of Buenos Aires, the main agriculture district of the country, is threatening the corn harvest.

“This zone is burning up,” said Sofia Corina, an analyst at the Rosario exchange. “I’ve received reports of lost plots of corn and corn that has lost 50 percent of its yield.”

“This is completely unheard-of for a year of El Niño,” she added.

El Niño is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that occurs every few years, triggering heavy rains and floods in South America and scorching weather in Asia and as far away as east Africa.

Two weeks ago, the Rosario exchange estimated the corn harvest for 2015/16 would be 23.8 million tonnes, up from 20.2 million tonnes in the previous season, due to a larger planting area and higher yields.

Corina said the area hit by drought represented 8 percent of the main agricultural area of the country, which is also a top global exporter of soy and wheat.

The expert said the lack of water also impacted soy but given the oilseed was not in its key period of growth, there was still time to avoid losses of the crop.

“If it rains, it can still be saved and manage to maintain its yields,” she said.

Argentina’s National Meteorological Office does not expect rain for that region in its weather forecast that predicts up to Friday. The temperature there is expected to reach up to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

13. ARGENTINA: WILL OIL, GAS FRACKING BRING YPF 50% UPSIDE? (Barrons)
By Dimitra DeFotis
January 26, 2016

Tudor Pickering upgraded Argentina oil-and-gas exploration and production company YPF (YPF) and its price target implies U.S.-traded shares could have 50% upside.

Shares in the state-run energy company jumped nearly 5% Tuesday to a recent $14.94. Shares of YPF have tumbled 38% over the past 12 months, while shares of Petrobas Argentina (PZE) are up 20% and shares of Brazil’s state-run Petroleo Brasileiro or Petrobras (PBR) are down nearly 60%. The upgrade, to Buy from Hold, calls YPF a relatively defensive name in Latin America “with large resource potential to unlock.” From the upgrade report:

“We are upgrading YPF to Buy from Hold with an unchanged $23 price target based on … Argentine [oil] pricing of ~$65 per barrel, which implies 5x 2016 enterprise value/DACF. We see YPF as advantaged in this market given fixed pricing, the recent devaluation of the peso bringing down costs making the Vaca Muerta shale play (more than 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of gross production) much more interesting. YPF’s balance sheet is not so much of a concern to us given we expect that YPF’s ability to attract capital to the Vaca Muerta will be enhanced with a more business friendly government, encouraging recent type curve data and lower costs improving economics.”

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that YPF and American Energy Partners, headed by the founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Aubrey McClendon, agreed to jointly explore and develop unconventional oil-and-gas projects in Argentina. The U.S. company is expected to fund, or find private-equity backing, for most of the $500 million to be invested in Vaca Muerta, WSJ reported:

“The deal, the latest in a series of international joint ventures by the Argentine state-run firm, underscores growing interest in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta–or “dead cow”–shale formation, in the Patagonian Province of Neuquén, which has turned Argentina into the world’s top shale producer outside of North America. “

Chesapeake suspended preferred dividends last week, and Chesapeake’s debt was downgraded Tuesday. See our posts on Why Petrobras Argentina & YPF Zig When Oil Prices Zag and more on new Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s $500 Billion Shale Oil Investment.

14. WHAT? ARGENTINA CONSIDERS IMPORTING BEEF (PRI org)
By Simeon Tegel
January 26, 2016

In Argentina, one of the world’s great ranching nations, eating steak every day is a way of life. Is it on the brink of importing beef?

The news is just the latest chapter in the country’s long-running drama of economic turmoil. Many citizens are hoping the new conservative government of President Mauricio Macri will finally end both the drama and turmoil.

But beef? It’s considered practically a human right in a land that lives for Sunday afternoon asados — or cookouts. The news that it may be imported comes amid forecasts that Argentines will eat less beef this year, a per capita average of 123 pounds compared to 2015’s 130 pounds, as domestic consumption is hit by a complicated mix of inflation and supply chain turbulence.

The previous presidencies of the late Nestor Kirchner and then his wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, saw frequent tensions between the government and Argentine ranchers.

The couple’s leftist policies led them to slap a 15 percent export tax on beef and issue a permit system for foreign sales while forcing ranchers to hit quotas for sales to local markets — at lower prices than on international markets.

The plan was aimed at ensuring that even poor Argentines could afford beef in a nation where it is regarded as a basic staple to be eaten morning, noon and night.

http://www.globalpost.com/sites/default/files/styles/w1024/public/photos/201601/rtr3qtvh.jpg?itok=z6SfJ_wz
Meat is grilled at the open air Mataderos Fair in Buenos Aires May 25, 2014. The event was staged as part of the 204th anniversary commemorations of the May Revolution.

But critics called it populist and warned of the harmful effects of alleged market interference, while farmers developed an aversion to selling their wares nationally.

Argentina’s beef herd remains one of the largest in the world at 51 million head of cattle, with production relatively stable. The problem is not a shortage of cattle in the South American nation.

Instead it is inflation, and what the government fears is speculation by some ranchers, seeing domestic beef prices rise by 13 percent just in December.

Vice President Gabriela Michetti warned: “We are seriously considering opening up imports of beef because it is one of the [food items] that most took off [in price]. There were negotiations with the sector but the problem continues. The government is very worried.”

She added that the beef industry was not fulfilling promises to keep prices down and that the government was also determined to avoid a “neoliberal” market readjustment, that would see prices immediately floated, leaving many poor consumers unable to afford steak.

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Empobrecidos x Cristina, los salarios bajarán

28 enero, 2016

El cristinismo nos empobreció, y deberemos mayoritariamente empobrecernos algo. Si la moneda nacional fuese estable, los salarios de empleados estatales disminuirían, si un 15% quien percibía 10.000 recibirá 8.500 porque un Estado empobrecido debe gastar menos (o endeudarse aún mas). Tenemos un precedente: con Fernando de la Rúa y López Murphy, ministro de economia y un gabinete ministerial plagado de economistas encontró que técnicamente lo correcto era bajar los salarios. Pero como la moneda argentina era el dolar, debido a que regía la convertibilidad, y al dolar no lo imprimimos en Argentina, propusieron reducir un 13% los salarios, ej. quien percibía 10.000 pesos convertibles bajaba a $8.700. Era una reducción real respecto del dolar, muy parecida a la que hacen los gobiernos inflacionarios argentinos sin convertibilidad: el objetivo es reducir salarios: todo país robado por su Presidente y asociados empobrece a su pueblo.

Igual que cuando una guerra se pierde. Esto sucedió con Galtieri, de la Rúa y Cristina K., pero al General Galtieri nos lo impusieron sin consultar los militares, con el relato falso de la soberanía nacional para proyectarse en el Poder sin necesidad de votos durante varios años mas. A de la Rúa y Cristina los votamos, nos robaron y debimos pagar los platos rotos. A de la Rúa lo echaron porque no era peronista y Duhalde necesitaba la Presidencia que había perdido dos años antes al haber el Pueblo elegido a de la Rúa. Porque de la Rúa prometió mantener la estabilidad y lo hizo. Sospecho los peronistas necesitaban dinero y poder, e inventaron hechos vandálicos que posibilitaron el golpe de Estado para que en solo un mes, el perdidoso Duhalde fuese electo Presidente por la Asamblea Legislativa, esquivando inconstitucionalmente el voto popular al cambiar la ley de Acefalia entre el fatídico fin de año 2001 y el idem comienzo del 2002. Simultáneamente anularon la convertibilidad, posibilitadi la temible inflación del peso ya no convertible, que enriquece a Gobernantes y Asociados y empobrece a la gran mayoría de los argentinos.

Macri como ingeniero necesita en corto tiempo que la inflación disminuya y eso se advierta. Lo que robaron desde los 8 años de Cristinismo no es posible calcular, porque el INDEC – palabras que oí ayer del licenciado Todesca, a cargo de la difícil tarea de recomponer los indices de precios reales, que en Argentina son difíciles de calcular, a menos que usemos tres parámetros confiables, según nuestro blog: el dolar en primerísimo término, aunque Todesca lo haya omitido mencionar ayer, y después el indice de precios de la Ciudad Autónoma y su equivalente de la Provincia de San Luis.

El sentido común indica que remontar la pérdida causada por engaños y robos de los últimos ocho o doce años requiere bastante tiempo. Los kirchneristas e izquierdistas sostienen que Macri está provocando inflación porque el Estado emite dinero, y con eso buscan distraer a la opinión pública para que comencemos a desconfiar del recién electo Presidente, cuya victoria puso en descubierto el desprestigio del kirchnerismo y el peronismo. Los gobernadores provinciales necesitan dinero fresco que solo puede fabricar el Gobierno Nacional generando mayor inflación, y comienza un tira y afloje para presionar al Gobierno Nacional. Si éste no entrega dinero inflacionario a las provincias, al estar desgobernadas desde siempre, la diferencia entre Ciudad Autónoma y Provincia de buenos Aires con el resto del país (22 provincias) seguirá aumentando. Y si entrega suficiente dinero inflacionario para que las provincias generen mayor trabajo en su territorio, habrá empapelamiento excesivo de pesos y la inflación aumentará. Máxime cuando los gobernadores suelen ser bastante bandidos, hacen desde joven la carrera del Poder y los que llegan a mandar, son autoritarios y difícilmente se empobrecen Gobernando provincias. La prueba está a la vista: nuestros Gobernadores suelen ser gente con patrimonio personal considerable a veces en manos de testaferros.

¿EXISTE SOLUCIÓN A LA ECONOMÍA ARGENTINA?

Un cambio es posible, siempre que resulte electo un Presidente sensato y honesto, y a Macri todavía no podemos medirlo con seguridad, porque sus antecedentes son sus ocho años como Jefe de Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, donde también sucedieron cosas sospechosas, como hemos informado en particular con la misteriosa e incomprensible ley 4.004 que Macri no vetó, que costó al pueblo de Buenos Aires mas de veinte millones de pesos a cambio de …….NADA (leer dicha ley 4004 en Google o buscar en nuestro blog charlas vinculadas al derrumbe en 2011 del edificio Bartolomé Mitre al 1200 a 3 cuadras del Obelisco porteño.

CAMBIOS QUE SUGERIMOS

1) que cada provincia se comporte como la Constitución ordena: se ocupe de percibir sus impuestos, aumentando los existentes, y BAJAR gastos provinciales al máximo, son excesivos, ya que la cantidad de empleados públicos en cada provincia implica un porcentaje enorme del gasto total.
2) Que cada provincia dicte leyes laborales provinciales para atraer a desocupados que quieran trabajar percibiendo poco, en vez de intentar sobrevivir del Estado con planes para ayudar a pobres que pueden trabajar. La provincia que mejor legisle en forma sensata, atraerá mano de obra ociosa de otras provincias e inversores dispuestos a contratarla, siempre que los gobernadores sean gente de confiar. La provincia mas confiable parece San Luis, su indice es un de los dos recomendados por el licenciado Todesca para calcular inflación y variaciones de precios. El otro es el de la Ciudad Autónoma.
3) Que las provincias se endeuden en el mercado local e internacional con fines serios. En algunos casos Gobernadores bandidos engañaran a sus vecinos, pero otros serios y honestos comprenderán que cada provincia puede y debe luchar competitivamente con las restantes para atraer inversiones que ocupen mano de obra privada. Los buenos gobernadores serán reelectos, los bandidos descartados, porque el pueblo está aprendiendo a votar, especialmente desde que es inaceptable golpes de Estado a nivel nacional, provincial y casi municipal.
4) Conviene que la Ciudad Autónoma cambie su estatus y se convierta en Provincia, al igual que las 23 que tenemos. Esto causará que su jefe de gobierno se convierta en Gobernador provincial, y si debe litigarse contra el Estado Nacional, sea directamente en única instancia ante la Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación. Esto surge de la triste experiencia de Macri amenazado por el cristinismo, que pudo haber sido encarcelado siendo Jefe de gobierno, si algún Juez lo ordenaba, sin necesidad de ser sometido a juicio político previo. Cuanto antes, mejor. A los gobernadores hay que respetarlos. Pero apenas hay indicios graves de incurrir en delitos, deben ser investigados en serio por la Justicia. Sería conveniente que a los gobernadores los juzgara la Justicia Federal, porque los Tribunales Supremos provinciales parecen tener dificultades para actuar con independencia,porque en las capitales de las Provincias los vecinos se conocen y suelen ser amigos o parientes, y eso dificulta un juicio imparcial.

ESPERAR EL RESULTADO

28 enero, 2016

ARGENTINA SALVAJIZADA

Votar por un Presidente implica una doble espera: primero, si resulta electo, cosa que a veces se sabe de antemano. Pero hay una segunda y larga espera, de digamos cuatro años circa, ya que hay que esperar el desempeño o performance del nuevo Amo de  Argentina, en este caso, ELLA.  Pero sucede que como ya estuvo cuatro años en el Poder, y Nestor otro tanto, ahora hay un 54 por ciento de votantes convencidos que seguira Argentina creciendo, mientras que otros porcentajes menores se debaten en la duda. La prensa libre, en general, es pesimista, porque esta controlada por grupos internacionales que temen al fascismo peronista, comunista o cristinista, todos considerados populismos corruptos, incapaces de trabajar para la totalidad de la poblacion. Los estos bandidos serian inutiles e inoperantes, creen. Y personalmente adhiero a esa teoria.

Pero hay otra parte de las comunicaciones, que han sido y siguen pagas por…

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PRIORIDADES HUMANAS

26 enero, 2016

ARGENTINA SALVAJIZADA

En Argentina seria sencillo crear reglas de juego para que mayor cantidad de gente pase a trabajar en actividades productivas. El trabajo porcentual de pocos habitantes produce comida suficiente para alimentar a todo el pais, y ademas exportar. Quedan asi disponibles recursos humanos para producir otras cosas, siguiendo con el orden de prioridades y el principio de la division del trabajo. No dependemos de las importaciones para movilizar el trabajo hacia proyectos constructivos. Si nos organizamos, los capitales para financiarlos vendran por si solos, ya que podremos desarrollar un fuerte mercado para inversores, en creditos en dolares con garantia hipotcaria, a una tasa bastanter superior a la internacional.

Esto requiere el dictado de legislaciones adecuadas a la naturaleza humana y a la realidad nacional. Es lo que no han logrado obtener nuestros gobernantes, a partir de que el dirigismo economico se instalo, desplando asi el Estado a la libre actividad…

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