Monday, October 26, 2009

The Argentina example: are we heading there?

Argentina's Kirchner Targets the Press
As the state-run economy hits the skids, the government responds with a crackdown on the free press.
One way a president can boost poll numbers in a bad economy is to wrest control of the central bank and start printing lots of pesos. There's nothing like cheap financing to restore the market's enthusiasm for buying all sorts of stuff—from stocks to houses—already on sale at fire sale prices.

The great reflation will make people feel rich again. A weak currency will also be a short-term boon to exporters, whose profits can then be taxed at ever higher rates. Complainers can be denounced for their greed.

Of course this perpetual motion machine will eventually conk out and when it does, a government that expects to survive will find it necessary to silence its critics. Just ask Argentines, who are living all of this in real time.

After more than five years of heavy state intervention in the economy, Argentina is again sliding into recession. Double-digit inflation is spiraling north and the government is running out of money. In response, President Cristina Kirchner is cracking down on the free press. Argentines are wondering if their democracy will survive.

The story of how Argentina got here is important to recall. The economy was flat on its back after the 2001-2002 collapse of "convertibility," the monetary arrangement that pegged the peso to the dollar. A demoralized nation was looking for a savior.

It thought it found one in NĂ©stor Kirchner. He became president in 2003 and set about to restore the state-run economic model of Juan Peron; the market, he maintained, had failed. Mr. Kirchner took control of the central bank. He demonized the private-sector and investors. Using price controls, subsidies and regulation he made himself a Robin Hood to the masses. The legislature granted him extraordinary powers.

The economy bounced back as one would expect after a harsh contraction, and in 2007 his wife was elected president with 45% of the vote.

Now the illusionists are losing their touch. Not only is the economy going sour, but according to polls, the nation is growing intolerant of what many consider to be the first couple's abuse of power. [...]

Read the whole thing. I wouldn't say that it's exactly like what is happening here in the USA, but there are numerous parallels. Many. You have to wonder how similar the results will be, too.

I read about a book recently that sounded interesting, it's written by an Argentinian author, Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, about how he and his family survived the economic collapse Argentina has gone through:

The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse (Paperback)
Product Description
My book is a Modern Survival Manual based on first hand experience of the 2001 Economic Collapse in Argentina. In it you will find a variety of subjects that I consider essential if a person wants to be prepared for tougher times: -How to prepare your family, yourself, your home and your vehicle -How to prepare your finances so that you don't suffer what millions in my country went through -How to prepare your supplies for food shortages and power failures -How to correctly fight with a chair, gun, knife, pen or choke with your bare hands if required -Most important, how to reach a good awareness level so that you can avoid having to do all that. These are just a few examples of what you will find in this book. It's about Attitude, and being a more capable person and get the politically correct wimp out of your system completely.

I've posted before about other books that deal with currency collapse scenarios. While interesting, those books can be heavily theoretical. Aguirre's book is based on actual experience, which I think gives it added authority. So often, experience is the best teacher. Here is one of the comments about his book, posted at

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book for Ordinary Preppers, May 7, 2009

By Faith "Faith" (North Carolina) - See all my reviews

If you are considering buying this book, you are probably looking at the current economy and worrying about the future. You want to know how to protect yourself and your family from the effects of this downturn.

If you read other survivalist books, you start to think that it's useless to prepare. They make you think that you have to be a sharp-shooting tactician who can improvise a hand grenade using peanut butter and Band Aids. This is not true, as Ferfal explains in his book.

Ferfal is an ordinary person (with a wife and two kids) who is living through the day-to-day struggle of a failed economy, with all of the attendant crime and struggle. He gives advice that real people can follow. The book covers home security; personal security; Depression-proof jobs; basic defense techniques for ordinary people; what to buy in advance; legal issues and (my favorite section) advice from his wife. The site I bought it from allows you to preview the Table of Contents.

I am an ordinary wife myself, with minimal self-defense skills, no tactical training, and no "live off the land" knowledge. I found this book useful, informative and helpful, and after I read it I added many things to my shopping list that other "survivalists" never seem to mention.

A minor caveat: English is Ferfal's second language, and his writing reflects it. (The book is self-published, and it seems that he did not have an editor.) The writing is easy to understand, but sometimes amusing (he types "embrace yourself" instead of "brace yourself," for example.) Ferfal also uses cusswords sometimes; he explains why in the book. Neither of these caused me any pain, but you are warned.

The site at let's you read the index and several pages into the book as well, where Aguirre describes what happened when the collapse came. Fascinating reading.

At $25.00, the price is a bit steep for 252 page paperback, IMO. But if he really is self-publishing it, perhaps he has to charge that much. Anyway, read the sample pages and decide for yourself if it's worth it. I'm still thinking about it, it's on my Wish List.

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