By Don Quijones: Uruguay rarely draws international attention. Sandwiched between its much larger, much rowdier neighbors, it is, and has been for decades, a relative oasis of calm. But that is about to change: Uruguay is on the verge of becoming the first ever Latin American country to decriminalize the consumption of marijuana.
Fed Chairman Bernanke and his ilk refuse to see the connection. They’re too busy ogling inflation in the US that is suspiciously low. But China has its eyes riveted on the revolt in Brazil. Like all revolts, it’s about deep-seated issues and inequalities, but the spark that lit it – after inflation had made life too expensive – was an increase in bus fares.
The issue of inflation is complex everywhere. Official rates are disputed. People can’t reconcile them with what they see at the store. There are different formulas, resulting in different rates, and everyone picks and chooses what suits their needs. But nowhere is the issue as “complex,” infested with lies, and shrouded in obscurity as in Argentina. But 34.9%?
In 1994, decades of economic mismanagement reached their nadir in the Mexican Tequila Crisis, an event which should have served – but patently didn’t – as a portent of the financial storms now buffeting Europe.
Contributed by Don Quijones: A cardinal rule that visitors should observe at all times in Mexico City is to avoid catching random taxis on the streets. Pick the wrong one and, at best, you will be abusively overcharged. Or you may be whisked away to some neighbourhood where the taxi driver’s partner(s)-in-crime will be waiting. But this taxi ride was different.
The California Division of Occupational Safety & Health just slammed Chevron with massive, record-breaking penalties related to the refinery in Richmond—the one that ended up in a fireball last August and caused 15,000 people to seek medical treatment. Purpose: to teach the mega-company an excruciatingly painful lesson. Alas….
Now that the dust has settled from the November/December 2012 drama surrounding the US Court ruling(s) regarding Argentina’s payment on defaulted bonds, I want to take a look at this snaggle—ahead of what will be a titillating appeal in February.
Contributed by Bianca Fernet. Sometimes I have to hand it to the Argentine government – their systematic clampdown on the movement of goods and capital across their borders is creeping along just enough to make international headlines about once a week without incurring any real domestic outcry to speak of. But now they have a new thing.
The US, Japan, and Mexico followed the EU’s lead and filed complaints at the WTO against Argentina’s import restrictions. Argentina promptly responded with its own complaint—against the US for blocking imports of beef and lemons. Yet, its beef market is one of the top 10 most protected in the world—and not in favor of its own beef producers! Just to keep the country glued together for a little while longer.
Contributed by Bianca Fernet. Argentina is the perfect example of trade barriers, exhibiting a tantalizing web of import and export tariffs, quota systems, subsidies, licensing schemes, and local content requirements, all along with a healthy dose of corruption. One of the reasons I love living in Buenos Aires is that it is like living in an economics textbook. Argentina’s most ‘popular’ textbook economic blunder is capital restrictions.