Sunday, February 02, 2014

Peso panic and rocketing prices shake the throne of Argentina's Queen Cristina

(Guardian) Argentina's president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and her ministers blame foreign 'vultures' for an economic meltdown as power cuts hit Buenos Aires and goods vanish from supermarket shelves.

Even in normal years, the summer heat in Buenos Aires is overwhelming. Among a population of nearly 13 million packed into the long shore of the wide River Plate, the phrase most often heard from the lips of porteños is: "It's the humidity that kills you."

For those who can't afford to escape to the exclusive summer resort of Punta del Este, across the river in Uruguay, or make the longer trip to the golden beaches of Brazil, there is only one solution: air conditioning. But a combination of global warming and an abrupt economic collapse scuppered even that consolation for shopper Graciela Fernández last week. When the temperature insisted on staying at around 40C and humidity levels rose to a drenching 90%, Fernández rushed to buy an air-conditioning unit she had seen on sale a week before.

"When I went to buy it, the price had gone up 25% since when I checked prices last week," she complained outside the Alto Palermo shopping mall. "The same thing just happened to me at the pharmacy where I went to buy the medicine my husband takes: the price was up 20%."

The economic panic leading to price mark-ups of this kind began in mid-January, when Argentina's central bank reserves dipped below $30bn, forcing the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to drop its policy of injecting large quantities of dollars into the exchange market to shore up the overvalued peso.

Read full article here.


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