Archive for January, 2014

Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold, continued

Friday, January 31st, 2014

As Latin America’s Leaders Hail Democracy In Havana, Cuba’s Beatings Intensify, but rather than try some networking at Davos, Cristina visited with what’s left of Fidel,

while Argentina Loses $1.25 Billion of Foreign-Currency Reserves
Kirchner’s Government Tries to Head Off Recession

Argentina’s central bank has shed $1.25 billion of its dwindling foreign-currency reserves since it devalued the peso last week, even as the currency came under renewed pressure on Thursday.

he devaluation has so far failed to achieve what is believed to be its main goal: to close the confidence-busting gap between the official and black-market rates. The gap has narrowed in recent weeks.

The bigger the gap between black-market and regulated rates, the more the Argentine public fears the official exchange rate is overvalued and vulnerable to another devaluation.

Another measure aimed at deflating the black market also appears to be falling flat.

Starting Monday, Argentines were allowed to buy limited amounts of dollars for savings for the first time in about 18 months. The tax agency said it had authorized purchases of more than $137 million in dollars through Thursday afternoon.

However, Argentines opted to pay a 20% tax and withdraw $125 million from the banks instead of taking advantage of attractive interest rates and tax breaks for dollar deposits, the tax agency said. Many people still remember the 2002 crisis, when the government forcibly swapped dollar savings for devalued pesos.The Kirchner administration has borrowed more than $29 billion since 2010 from the central bank to pay its creditors, while government fuel imports and falling gold prices have also dented reserves.

If that money doesn’t stay in the banks, the central bank will likely take additional measures to stem dollar outflows. The central bank could takes losses of between $8 billion and $9 billion to individuals this year under the measure, according to estimates from BNP Paribas.

The trend has some investors and Argentines wondering if the country might struggle to pay its foreign debt and buy enough imported goods to keep its economy going.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I consider it a certainty.

Prior post: Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold


Minimum Wage Laws Kill Jobs

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Prof. Steve Hanke explains Minimum Wage Laws Kill Jobs

In the 21 countries with a minimum wage, the average country has an unemployment rate of 11.8%; whereas, the average unemployment rate in the seven nations without a minimum wage is about one third lower – at 7.9%.

Read the whole article.

En español: Angry Birds en la Unidad de Quemados

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

@DrNetas habla con un pajarito, pero no como lo hace Maduro:

In Silvio Canto’s podcast

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

talking about Crime and inflation in Venezuela PLUS other US Latin America issues. Live now, and archived for your listening convenience.

Also, I was Rick Moran’s co-host last night. We talked about A Dismal State of the Union with PJ Media’s Bryan Preston.

Latin America: What was missing from the SOTU

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

My latest article at Da Tech Guy On Da Radio Blog Latin America: What was missing from the SOTU

Please go read it and hit Da Tip Jar.

Gladys the android

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Last year my old cellphone’s charger broke and – since the phone was so old – could not be replaced, no matter where I looked, so I bought a Galaxy S3.

The S3 has more functions than I know how to use or need, and it’s been very reliable. It even gets good signals inside my house, which is a big deal since there aren’t enough cell towers in Princeton.

It’s been a year and now my service provider is sending me emails with tempting “free” phone upgrades, while the Samsung people simultaneously updated the phone.

From the moment I bought it, the phone has been whistling every time I receive a text, sometimes necessitating an explanation on my part, like the time I was in the middle of a doctor’s appointment and the nurse blushed when she heard the whistle.

But now my phone has a voice. A dry, professional, all-business, female voice. A voice that pops up at inconvenient times telling me that I have “25 new emails”. A clear, bossy voice.

I named her Gladys.

Nothing much gets past Gladys.

Not only does she pop up to announce how many new emails are there, she sometimes pipes in to make other announcements.

And heaven farfend if you don’t pay attention to her when she wakes you up. Her assertive “Alarm: It is seven o’clock AM” can not be ignored, much less if you let five minutes go by. She’ll nag you every five minutes until you do something.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if they had used a male voice. It would be much nicer to wake up to, say, the voice of Patrick Stewart or Colin Firth, even if they popped up at inconvenient times.

My Garmin (also old) gives you a choice of voices, and I changed the bossy woman voice it came with to a polite, English-accented male voice that reminded me of C-3PO.

I named him Anthony.

Blogging on more serious matters will resume shortly.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Liberty’s Torch and Dustbury. Thank you!

Cuba: CELAC, the hypocrisy summit

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños, a.k.a. CELAC) is meeting in the island prison, richly earning the title of The hypocrisy summit:

In the shadows, meanwhile, the police-state goons, who represent the real Cuba, will be busy rounding up the usual suspects — those who clamor for genuine freedom and detest the oppression that prevails in the country of Jose Martí’s birth.

This is the customary script for events in Cuba that draw international media attention, as with papal visits. The government is so keen to create the impression that everyone lives happily under a benevolent Castro dictatorship that it takes extra measures to ensure that neither official visitors nor the press witness signs of dissent.

Dilma, Evo, and Cristina are in attendance as the Cuban Regime “Cleans up” Opposition for CELAC Summit. Cristina met with Fidel and his wee wifey,

Just in case, Dilma is saying that Argentina has not asked for help in the devaluation crisis (link in Portuguese). Not that any would be coming from her.

It’s basically a hatefest against the USA, with the blessing of the OAS’s Insulza, who so far has not met with the Ladies in White, and also of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who came up with a real doozy,

“Since [violence against women] is rooted in discrimination, impunity and complacency, we need to change attitudes and behavior – and we need to change laws and make sure they are enforced just like you are doing in Cuba.”

“Just like you are doing in Cuba”:


Mexico: Michoacán vigilantes to join with police

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

and El Tio, one of the Knights Templar bosses, was arrested,
Mexico Reaches Pact With Vigilante Groups
Self-Defense Groups in Michoacán State Agree to Join Rural, Town Police as Security Forces Capture a Top Cartel Leader

Since the government intervened two weeks ago, federal forces have detained more than 100 people, but the detainees hadn’t included any of the top leaders of the Knights Templar, which takes its name from a medieval organization of crusading warrior monks. The vigilantes have demanded the government capture the Templars’ top leaders as a prerequisite for their laying down their arms.

Aside from their drug profits, the Knights Templar made tens of millions of dollars from extorting Michoacán’s lime and avocado growers, cattlemen, hoteliers and other businessmen. Many of the state’s towns and cities were forced to give a 10% cut of their budget to the criminal organization, local officials say.

El Tío, Dionisio Loya Plancarte, is not to be confused with this other Tío,

Guatemala: The lost orphans

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Mary O’Grady talks about the unintended consequences of Unicef’s policies:

Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans
Unicef’s pressure to stop international adoptions has tragic results.

The misplaced Machu Picchu Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 27th, 2014

To err is human, and to misplace the ruins is definitely not divine, so today’s Carnival is dedicated to Hema Maps, the publishers of this guidebook.

ARGENTINA
Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Argentina’s Latest Crisis

THE TWO WORLDS OF BUENOS AIRES: MACRI’S LEGACY OF INEQUALITY

Erosion of Argentine Peso Sends a Shudder Through Latin America
The decline in Argentina’s currency is the steepest since the country’s economic collapse in 2002, and it is raising fears of a global slump in developing countries.

Currency controls in Argentina
Relaxation therapy

BELIZE
Belize and Guatemala agree on ‘road map’ to address the territorial dispute
Belize and Guatemala agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of American States on a “Road Map and Plan of Action”, which has as its main objective the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

BOLIVIA
Bolivia ‘to build first nuclear reactor’

Radio Serial About Evo Morales Debuts in Bolivia

BRAZIL
The Brazilian ranch where Nazis kept slaves
On a farm deep in the countryside 100 miles (160km) west from Sao Paulo, a football team has lined up for a commemorative photograph. What makes the image extraordinary is the symbol on the team’s flag – a swastika.

New book claims THIS picture proves Hitler escaped his Berlin bunker and died in South America in 1984 aged 95
Fuhrer ‘fled to Argentina and then Paraguay before settling in Brazil’
Hunted for treasure with a map given to him by Vatican allies, book claims
Author Simoni Renee Guerreiro Dias claims fascist actually died aged 95
Claims he had a black girlfriend to disguise his fascist background
Says her suspicions increased after she photoshopped a moustache [sic] onto the grainy picture and compared it to photos of the Fuhrer

World Cup protesters set fire to car
Brazil World Cup protesters set fire to car
Violence erupts on the streets of Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo as more than 2,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against the cost of the upcoming soccer World Cup

CHILE
Chile’s president-elect chooses old faces for new cabinet

Chile’s 33 miners still haunted by their past

Magic and Mystery: Isabel Allende
The best-selling author on her new mystery and why her work isn’t so ‘magical’

COLOMBIA
Cash for votes

COSTA RICA
Cato’s ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BULLETIN NO. 18
Growth without Poverty Reduction: The Case of Costa Rica

Costa Rica needs genuine market reforms that eliminate the government’s power to pick winners and losers or otherwise bestow favoritism. In the areas aforementioned, the country should

* Implement a neutral exchange rate regime either by allowing the colón to freely float against the U.S. dollar or by adopting the latter as the country’s official currency.
* Abolish all tariffs on agricultural products as well as other regulations that provide monopoly powers to conglomerates that produce farm goods such as rice, beef, and sugar, and eliminate price controls on rice.
* Dismantle regulations that stifle domestic entrepreneurship, following the guidelines laid out by the World Bank’s Doing Business project.
* Adopt a neutral and competitive tax regime that taxes all businesses domiciled in the country equally but at a low flat rate.

CUBA
Dissidents Arrested Ahead of CELAC Summit

RIP, Inter-American Democratic Charter

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic runaways told they cannot return to Stonyhurst College
The two pupils who ran away from Stonyhurst College to the Dominican Republic will not be allowed to return to school

ECUADOR
Ecuador airline suspends flights to Venezuela because of tickets’ debts
Ecuadorean airline Tame has suspended flights to Venezuela, demanding 43m dollars in overdue payments for tickets. Some 80 passengers were left stranded on Thursday at the airport in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito. Tame says the Venezuelan Central Bank has not transferred any money to its account in Ecuador since April 2013.

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador Presidential Election Preview, 2014

Shaky truce: Is El Salvador’s gang war really on hold?

GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans
Unicef’s pressure to stop international adoptions has tragic results.

JAMAICA
Mass Burial Site Claim
Police said to be aiding some criminals in the East

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America and the Caribbean: Congressional Priorities for 2014

MEXICO
The American roots of a Mexican militia movement
Many who have joined fight against Michoacan drug cartel once lived and worked in the U.S.

Knights Templar on quest for drugs efficiency
Mexican narco-gang diversifies into mining and iron ore export

PANAMA
Panama Canal Authority Says Proposal on Table That Could End Dispute

Car Shopping Observations

PARAGUAY
Six Hurt in Clash with Police in Paraguay

PERU
Peru Lawmakers Find Evidence of Graft Under Former President

PUERTO RICO
Your taxes just went up: Gobernador convierte en Ley medidas de COFIM

Puerto Rico: The next debt crisis?

Puerto Rico: Harbour of debt
The territory is imposing tough austerity measures as it seeks to allay investor concerns and issue new bonds

URUGUAY
A really big mess: Dead Sperm Whale Washes Up on Beach in Uruguay

Uruguayan Economy Minister Resigns Amid Airline Scandal

VENEZUELA
Carta abierta a @abc_es

Maduro sets limits on company profits and prison terms for hoarding or over charging
Venezuela decreed a new price control law that sets limits on company profits and establishes prison terms for those charged with hoarding or over-charging, part of populist President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to tame inflation.

Jeff Bezos will go to jail in Venezuela

Venezuelan Government Devalues Currency

Miami on the cheap? Venezuelans traveling to Florida face new restrictions

HRW “unlikes” Maduro

Will Venezuela default on its debts?

The week’s posts and podcast:
CELAC: Maduro & Cristina want Puerto Rico’s independence

The question the media should be asking about Menendez

Argentina And Venezuela: Chronicles Of Devaluations Foretold

Who is to gain from smearing Robert Menendez?

Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold

Cuba: Success through ruination

En español: Terapia intensiva

Cuba: Michael Totten’s road trip

Mexico: Michoacan’s fighting priests

The BVI, China’s new tax haven

Venezuela: Worst judicial system

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
UN Climate chief: Communism fights global warming

Cuba: What a “prosperous and sustainable socialism” looks like UPDATED

The week’s podcast:
Venezuela & US-Latin America stories of the week