What has happened the last seven days in Argentina?
LOYAL, FOR NOW...
The Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández presidential ticket of Frente de Todos marked Peronist Loyalty Day on Thursday in La Pampa as the only speakers. Alberto repeatedly called President Mauricio Macri a “liar” and praised his running-mate for making their ticket possible while the former president said “never again to neo-liberalism.”
MILLIONAIRE ASKS FOR A MILLION
President Mauricio Macri is hoping for a million marchers today for a mass rally at the Obelisk bringing an intense week of “#SiSePuede” nationwide campaign swings to a climax, even persuading the Argentine Football Association to bring ahead all Saturday afternoon matches to boost turnout. Last week’s whistlestops included the Entre Ríos provincial capital of Paraná (Monday), the farming hub of Pergamino in Buenos Aires Province (Tuesday), the Córdoba towns of Río Cuarto and Carlos Paz (Wednesday), Reconquista, Santa Fe Province, and Chaco (Thursday) and Corrientes yesterday. On Tuesday Macri blundered into perhaps the most serious gaffe of this swing when he compared populist governments to frivolous wives overspending the family credit card, an anti-feminist outburst which prompted his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to call him a “machirulo” (a neologism combining machista and chulo or pimp).
TOP 2 SKIP IDEA
Without the presence of either of the two main candidates in next weekend’s elections, the 55th IDEA business symposium in Mar del Plata concluding yesterday was a relatively lowkey affair with the stellar presence coming from Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal and Consenso Federal presidential candidate Roberto Lavagna.
IMF CONFIRMS IMPASSE
Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva, who has been Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since the start of this month, said on Thursday morning that she would need to know the next government’s economic plans before renegotiating the repayment of the US$57-billion stand-by credit advanced last year. Yesterday Georgieva confirmed the impasse with Finance Minister Hernán Lacunza in a meeting also attended by her second-in-command David Lipton and Central Bank Governor Guido Sandleris.
THE PRICES ARE NOT RIGHT
Last month’s inflation accelerated to 5.9 percent in the wake of the devaluation following August’s PASO primaries, INDEC statistics bureau reported on Wednesday, this year’s highest figure – a far cry from July’s 2.2 percent. Despite the elimination of IVA value-added taxation on basic food products, core inflation was even higher at 6.4 percent. The first three quarters of 2019 now total 37.7 percent with 53.5 percent for the last 12 months (56.9 percent for food and beverages).
The dollar closed the week yesterday at an average exchange rate of 60.73 pesos in banks (exactly 60 pesos in Banco Nación) while unofficial exchange rates peaked at 74.80, as compared to the respective closing figures of 60.31 and 69.14 last week. Central Bank reserves have dipped to just over US$ 47.5 billion. Country risk crept back over the psychological 2,000-point mark to 2,015 .
DEBATE WITHOUT DEBATE
A frontrunner on the offensive was the main novelty of last Sunday’s insipid presidential debate crimped by a rigid format – with mixed results for Frente de Todos presidential candidate Alberto Fernández who gained points with aggressive attacks on the Mauricio Macri administration (which even included accusing Macri of giving over half of the US$57-billion IMF package to his friends) but who thus sacrificed the moderate image pursued until now. Macri ran less risks with no clear gain or loss – he may have picked up some votes from the lacklustre performance of Consenso Federal’s Roberto Lavagna but was also outflanked on the right by both José Luis Espert (with no coalition allies to inhibit his structural reform proposals) and José Luis Gómez Centurión who made some points beyond his single-issue crusade against abortion. The left was faithfully represented by FIT’s Nicolás Del Caño, who requested a minute of silence for the crisis in Ecuador being settled as he spoke.
Heavy rainfall during much of the week caused floods in various Greater Buenos Aires districts, including La Matanza, where outgoing Mayor Verónica Magario (the Frente de Todos running-mate of Buenos Aires Province gubernatorial candidate Axel Kicillof) politicised the problem by blaming Governor María Eugenia Vidal representing Mauricio Macri’s Juntos por el Cambio coalition for not completing hydraulic works. Vidal retorted that La Matanza City Hall had been allocated 10 billion pesos to protect low-lying areas which had not been used. Evacuations peaked at 6,000 with a further 20,000 people at risk. Other districts such as Esteban Echeverria, Quilmes, Ezeiza, Lanús and Lomas de Zamora have also been badly hit by flooding.
Actor Juan Darthés was formally charged in midweek by a Nicaraguan court with raping Thelma Fardin, who said in a Thursday press conference that if he could not be extradited from his current São Paulo residence, he should be tried in Brazil. ARA SAN JUAN Naval officers Jorge Sulia, Hugo Correa and Héctor Alonso have been indicted by Caleta Olivia Federal Judge Marta Yañez for their responsibility in the sinking of the submarine ARA San Juan in November, 2017.
Jorge Capitanich, who had already governed Chaco between 2007 and 2015, will be back in office come December after winning last Sunday’s provincial elections with 47.6 percent.