Sunday, May 26, 2013

If necessary, use words.

The non-Catholic pastor who married us is headed off to the Vatican to see the Pope.

Pope Francesco (Francis in English?) acquitting himself well so far.   His actions remind you of Francis de Azizzi.   El Papa es Argentina, papa!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

25 de Mayo -- Independence Day, Revolution Day

It is impressive on this Independence day (there are two here), the Argentine federal government is spending lots of money on online Google and YouTube ads.  Presumably they get charged at the official exchange rate, meaning they are twice as expensive.

The ads from the government are always the same. They look cheap, with text on the screen as a voice narrates.  Basically like a PowerPoint slide. 

All this on a day when Google announced, "Google Play will no longer be able to accept payments on behalf of developers registered in Argentina starting June 27, 2013."  Google even suggests that developers move their account to another country.

Unfortunately the same old story for Argentina: a corrupt leftist government screwing things up.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Kirchners, corruption, jail...

Journalist Jorge Lanata has been hitting the Kirchners pretty hard recently.   Everyone expects Argentine politicians to be corrupt  - it is just the sad history of the country -- but it looks like it is even worse than people thought.

For my part, I have long thought the Kirchners were super-corrupt.  I think I wrote about it here at the time, but during the financial crisis, the Kirchners net worth DOUBLED.  The whole world lost half of their asset values, but the Kirchners doubled their net worth (and not by shorting).  

And that is just what they reported on their official forms.  The tough part of stealing money as a politician here is the laundering.  Just think about that for a second.

One of the main Kirchner cronies Lazaro Baez just invited reporters into his home to show them how he had a large wine cellar in place of where Lanata had recently reported that he installed a bank vault to hide all his yet-to-be-laundered cash.   It all went according to plan until...

...the worker who Lazaro Baez hired took pictures of himself taking out the bank vault and sent them to reporters.    Pretty smart move by the worker, because otherwise there would have been an incentive for him to suffer a mysterious accident (eg how Baez originally earned his money).

It is enough to make you wish the Kirchners went back to just sticking the Argentine IRS on their opponents.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jennifer Noronha consulate general in Argentina did not make many friends

It appears that my posts on Jennifer Noronha and Vilma Martínez have struck a chord with a few people.  I have not checked the comments in years, so the queue was full of comments waiting to be approved.  I approved some of them on those posts.  If you go to those posts, you will find that I am clearly not the only person who had problems with Jennifer Noronha.  Fortunately one of the comments (which I have not confirmed) says that she has left Argentina and is now posted in Afghanistan.  I apologize to all the Afghans that will have to deal with her.

I should note that I have interacted a few times over the past year with the current American vice-cónsul in the Buenos Aires consulate / embassy, and I find him to be the consummate professional.  His name is Mike.  He is helpful, good-humored, and....actually knows the law he is charged with upholding.

The State Department and foreign service needs more people like Mike and less like Jennifer Noronha.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sudestada: best lunch in Buenos Aires still?

Lunching at Sudestada is one of those things I have to do when back in Buenos Aires.  So I did it this week.  It was a bit of a nostalgic trip in from the burbs for me, as I retraced quite a few of my old routes and saw places where I used to live.

A few observations:
1.  It is cheap again.  Using the unofficial (and technically illegal, although also essentially de facto) exchange rate, lunch at Sudestada was only a bit over 6 bucks.
2.  They did not recognize me.  I guess this is what happens when you stop visiting for a couple years.  Of course, the two waiters who were there that day were probably the waiters who did lunch less during the years I was there so frequently.
3.  It is now 60 pesos.  50 pesos for the menú ejecutivo plus 10 for the mandatory cubierto.  When I started going there 5 years ago, it was 21 pesos + 3 for the cubierto.     That is inflation of 150% in 5 years.  And yet the Kirchners still make the ridiculous (and disproven) claim that inflation is only 9% per year.
4.  It was not spicy, probably because they did not recognize me.
5.  They seem to have made the appetizer cheaper.   The portion size of the main course seemed to have actually returned to its previous size.

It was a strange but enjoyable feeling to be looking out at the blue sky from Sudestada again over a glass of red wine.   Is it still the best?  No lo sé, but it is still my favorite.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I will never get used to it.  Sure, I was amazed by how much food prices went up during the first 3 years of the Obama presidency while I was away, but nothing like Argentina.  Everything is double or triple (or more) the price when I first got here. 

A friend the other day said, "if you act like the long-term value of the peso is zero, then you will probably have done well." 

I could not disagree.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

5 years later

Not too long ago was the 5 year anniversary of my arrival in BA.  I celebrated by coming back.

Some things have changed: Argentine wife, Argentine kid, the exchange rate, inflation is worse

Some things have not changed: President Cristina is unpopular (although she did manage to get re-elected through very pervasive vote-buying), the purchasing price in dollars is about what it was 5 years ago (although the exchange rate went from 3.3ish to the now unofficial 9.5), the Kirchners are still trying to turn Argentina into Chavez-style Venezuela by cracking down on a free press.  She is also trying to end judicial independence.

Things do not look good for the economy, although I bet Cristina will somehow make it through the October mid-term election before any devaluation.  Stability until then is key to her plan to subjugate the judiciary branch.  After that, the economy here is a crapshoot.