Colonization by Bankruptcy: The High-stakes Chess Match for Argentina

abutres

By Ellen Brown

If Argentina were in a high-stakes chess match, the country’s actions this week would be the equivalent of flipping over all the pieces on the board.

David Dayen, Fiscal Times, August 22, 2014

August 27, 2014 “ICH” – Argentina is playing hardball with the vulture funds, which have been trying to force it into an involuntary bankruptcy. The vultures are demanding what amounts to a 600% return on bonds bought for pennies on the dollar, defeating a 2005 settlement in which 92% of creditors agreed to accept a 70% haircut on their bonds. A US court has backed the vulture funds; but last week, Argentina sidestepped its jurisdiction by transferring the trustee for payment from Bank of New York Mellon to its own central bank. That play, if approved by the Argentine Congress, will allow the country to continue making payments under its 2005 settlement, avoiding default on the majority of its bonds.

Argentina is already foreclosed from international capital markets, so it doesn’t have much to lose by thwarting the US court system. Similar bold moves by Ecuador and Iceland have left those countries in substantially better shape than Greece, which went along with the agendas of the international financiers.

The upside for Argentina was captured by President Fernandez in a nationwide speech on August 19th. Struggling to hold back tears, according to Bloomberg, she said:

When it comes to the sovereignty of our country and the conviction that we can no longer be extorted and that we can’t become burdened with debt again, we are emerging as Argentines.

. . . If I signed what they’re trying to make me sign, the bomb wouldn’t explode now but rather there would surely be applause, marvelous headlines in the papers. But we would enter into the infernal cycle of debt which we’ve been subject to for so long.

The Endgame: Patagonia in the Crosshairs

The deeper implications of that infernal debt cycle were explored by Argentine political analyst Adrian Salbuchi in an August 12th article titled “Sovereign Debt for Territory: A New Global Elite Swap Strategy.” Where territories were once captured by military might, he maintains that today they are being annexed by debt. The still-evolving plan is to drive destitute nations into an international bankruptcy court whose decisions would have the force of law throughout the world. The court could then do with whole countries what US bankruptcy courts do with businesses: sell off their assets, including their real estate. Sovereign territories could be acquired as the spoils of bankruptcy without a shot being fired.

Global financiers and interlocking megacorporations are increasingly supplanting governments on the international stage. An international bankruptcy court would be one more institution making that takeover legally binding and enforceable. Governments can say no to the strong-arm tactics of the global bankers’ collection agency, the IMF. An international bankruptcy court would allow creditors to force a nation into bankruptcy, where territories could be involuntarily sold off in the same way that assets of bankrupt corporations are.

For Argentina, says Salbuchi, the likely prize is its very rich Patagonia region, long a favorite settlement target for ex-pats. When Argentina suffered a massive default in 2001, the global press, including Time and The New York Times, went so far as to propose that Patagonia be ceded from the country as a defaulted debt payment mechanism.

The New York Times article followed one published in the Buenos Aires financial newspaper El Cronista Comercial called “Debt for Territory,” which described a proposal by a US consultant to then-president Eduardo Duhalde for swapping public debt for government land. It said:

[T]he idea would be to transform our public debt default into direct equity investment in which creditors can become land owners where they can develop  industrial, agricultural and real estate projects. . . . There could be surprising candidates for this idea: during the Alfonsin Administration, the Japanese studied an investment master plan in Argentine land in order to promote emigration.  The proposal was also considered in Israel.

Salbuchi notes that ceding Patagonia from Argentina was first suggested in 1896 by Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, as a second settlement for that movement.

Another article published in 2002 was one by IMF deputy manager Anne Krueger titled “Should Countries Like Argentina Be Able to Declare Themselves Bankrupt?” It was posted on the IMF website and proposed some “new and creative ideas” on what to do about Argentina. Krueger said, “the lesson is clear: we need better incentives to bring debtors and creditors together before manageable problems turn into full-blown crises,” adding that the IMF believes “this could be done by learning from corporate bankruptcy regimes like Chapter 11 in the US”.

These ideas were developed in greater detail by Ms. Krueger in an IMF essay titled “A New Approach to Debt Restructuring,” and by Harvard professor Richard N. Cooper in a 2002 article titled “Chapter 11 for Countries” published in Foreign Affairs (“mouthpiece of the powerful New York-Based Elite think-tank, Council on Foreign Relations”). Salbuchi writes:

Here, Cooper very matter-of-factly recommends that “only if the debtor nation cannot restore its financial health are its assets liquidated and the proceeds distributed to its creditors – again under the guidance of a (global) court” (!).

In Argentina’s recent tangle with the vulture funds, Ms. Krueger and the mainstream media have come out in apparent defense of Argentina, recommending restraint by the US court. But according to Salbuchi, this does not represent a change in policy. Rather, the concern is that overly heavy-handed treatment may kill the golden goose:

. . . [I] n today’s delicate post-2008 banking system, a new and less controllable sovereign debt crisis could thwart the global elite’s plans for an “orderly transition towards a new global legal architecture” that will allow orderly liquidation of financially-failed states like Argentina. Especially if such debt were to be collateralized by its national territory (what else is left!?)

Breaking Free from the Sovereign Debt Trap

Salbuchi traces Argentina’s debt crisis back to 1955, when President Juan Domingo Perón was ousted in a very bloody US/UK/mega-bank-sponsored military coup:

Perón was hated for his insistence on not indebting Argentina with the mega-bankers: in 1946 he rejected joining the International Monetary Fund (IMF); in 1953 he fully paid off all of Argentina’s sovereign debt. So, once the mega-bankers got rid of him in 1956, they shoved Argentina into the IMF and created the “Paris Club” to engineer decades-worth of sovereign debt for vanquished Argentina, something they’ve been doing until today.

Many countries have been subjected to similar treatment, as John Perkins documents in his blockbuster exposéConfessions of an Economic Hit Man. When the country cannot pay, the IMF sweeps in with refinancing agreements with strings attached, including selling off public assets and slashing public services in order to divert government revenues into foreign debt service.

Even without pressure from economic hit men, however, governments routinely indebt themselves for much more than they can ever hope to repay. Why do they do it? Salbuchi writes:

Here, Western economists, bankers, traders, Ivy League academics and professors, Nobel laureates and the mainstream media have a quick and monolithic reply: because all nations need“investment and investors” if they wish to build highways, power plants, schools, airports, hospitals, raise armies, service infrastructures and a long list of et ceteras . . . .

But more and more people are starting to ask a fundamental common-sense question: why should governments indebt themselves in hard currencies, decades into the future with global mega-bankers, when they could just as well finance these projects and needs far more safely by issuing the proper amounts of their own local sovereign currency instead?

Neoliberal experts shout back that government-created money devalues the currency, inflates the money supply, and destroys economies. But does it? Or is it the debt service on money created privately by banks, along with other forms of “rent” on capital, that create inflation and destroy economies? As Prof. Michael Hudson points out:

These financial claims on wealth – bonds, mortgages and bank loans – are lent out to become somebody else’s debts in an exponentially expanding process.  . . . [E]conomies have been obliged to pay their debts by cutting back new research, development and new physical reinvestment. This is the essence of IMF austerity plans, in which the currency is “stabilized” by further international borrowing on terms that destabilize the economy at large. Such cutbacks in long-term investment also are the product of corporate raids financed by high-interest junk bonds. The debts created by businesses, consumers and national economies cutting back their long-term direct investment leaves these entities even less able to carry their mounting debt burden.

Spiraling debt also results in price inflation, since businesses have to raise their prices to cover the interest and fees on the debt.

From Sovereign Debt to Monetary Sovereignty

For governments to escape this austerity trap, they need to spend not less but more money on the tangible capital formation that increases physical productivity. But where to get the investment money without getting sucked into the debt vortex? Where can Argentina get funding if the country is shut out of international capital markets?

The common-sense response, as Salbuchi observes, is for governments to issue the money they need directly. But “printing money” raises outcries that can be difficult to overcome politically. An alternative that can have virtually the same effect is for nations to borrow money issued by their own publicly-owned banks. Public banks generate credit just as private banks do; but unlike private lenders, they return interest and profits to the economy. Their mandate is to serve the public, and that is where their profits go. Funding through their own government-issued currencies and publicly-owned banks has been successfully pursued by many countries historically, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, China, Russia, Korea and Japan. (For more on this, see The Public Bank Solution.)

Countries do need to be able to buy foreign products that they cannot acquire or produce domestically, and for that they need a form of currency or an international credit line that other nations will accept. But countries are increasingly breaking away from the oil- and weapons-backed US dollar as global reserve currency. To resolve the mutually-destructive currency wars will probably take a new Bretton Woods Accord. But that is another subject for a later article.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

Fonte: International Clearing House

PETRÓLEO NAS MALVINAS: UM PROBLEMA PARA O BRASIL?

PETRÓLEO NAS MALVINAS: UM PROBLEMA PARA O BRASIL?

 Grandes depósitos de petróleo recém-descobertos na plataforma continental das Ilhas Malvinas pode aumentar significativamente as tensões entre Argentina e Reino Unido, e isso poderia prejudicar a estratégia brasileira de manter a estabilidade regional em seu entorno estratégico.

Imagem: MD.

Imagem: MD.

 

Oil in the Malvinas/Falklands: Brazil’s next regional headache?

Post-Western World – 08/03/2014 – por Oliver Stuenkel

Brazil, foreign policy observers often point out, is blessed. Contrary to many other emerging powers such as China or India, it is located in a neighborhood that rarely experiences interstate tension or war. Not only can Brazil live on a relatively small defense budget, while India is the world’s largest arms importer. Brazil can also dedicate considerable time and energy towards extending its global diplomatic reach without constantly being forced to deal with trouble in its neighborhood.

There are few signs that this will change in the near future. Brazil usually engages when political stability in a nearby country is at risk — such as in Paraguay in 1996 and 2012, in Venezuela in 2002 and in Honduras in 2009. Aside from protecting its economic interests, policy makers in Brasília also seek to keep the region free of tension and crises (usually acting through regional institutions such as Mercosur and Unasur) to avoid interference by the United States or any other outside actor. Over the past decade, defending political stability in the region has turned into one of Brazil’s key foreign policy goals.

While recent troubles are usually domestic in nature, involving a sudden impeachment by a president in Paraguay and social unrest in Venezuela, another crisis may be lurking around that corner that, due to its international nature, is likely to give headaches to Brazilian foreign policy makers. While the territorial dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom is nothing new, significant oil findings around the Malvinas/ Falkland Islands (an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom claimed by Argentina) could significantly sharpen the existing antagonism between the two countries involved.

The head of Argentina’s new Malvinas Secretariat recently announced that firms drilling off the islands’ coasts would be ineligible to exploit shale-oil and gas in Patagonia. Late last year, Argentina’s congress passed a law that imposes prison sentences of up to 15 years and fines of up to $1.5 billion on anyone involved in exploring the islands’ continental shelf without its permission.

Meanwhile, the appointment of a new governor of the islands by the British government led Argentina’s Ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro, to write an op-ed in The Guardian this week, accusing London to violate international law in this “pending case of decolonization”. She writes that the UK, refusing to resolve the dispute, aims to justify the continued occupation of the islands by invoking the right to self-determination for the current British inhabitants. Yet,

The right of self-determination of peoples is not applicable to any or every human community, but only to “peoples”. In the case of the inhabitants of the Malvinas, we do not have a separate “people”, still less one subjected to colonialism. The British residents of the islands do not have the right to resolve the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the UK: nobody doubts they are British, and can continue to be so, but the territory in which they live is not. It belongs to Argentina. 

In response, the island’s Chair of the Legislative Assembly, Mike Summers, argued that the inhabitants’ approach was “fully in accord with the universal right to self determination set down in the UN Charter.”

The topic continues to appear regularly not only in Argentina, but also in the United Kingdom. In late February, the British media sounded alarm at increases in Argentina’s defense budget and quoted Admiral Lord West, who was at the helm ofHMS Ardent when it was sunk in the 1982 War, saying: “Any major increase in defence expenditure by Argentina must be viewed with concern. I am concerned that, without any ­aircraft carriers, we are incapable of ­recapturing them.” He continued pointing out that Britain’s new carriers will not be operational until 2020 and until then Argentina had a “window of opportunity”.

In August 2013, Argentina’s President took advantage of her country’s term as temporary President of the UN Security Council to address the issue. The region stands firmly behind Argentina – as do most other developing countries. As The Economist reported on the meeting,

…several ministries echoed Ms Fernández’s concerns. On behalf of CELAC Cuba’s foreign minister recognised “Argentina’s legitimate claim on the sovereignty” over the Falklands (and raised the issue of nuclear disarmament, a dig at Britain’s alleged missile-carrying vessels in the South Atlantic). Venezuela’s bemoaned the islands’ “colonial situation”. And their Uruguayan opposite number promoted “a South Atlantic zone of peace”, denouncing what he termed the “illegitimate activities of oil exploitation” in waters near the Falklands.

Britain, on the other hand, frequently points to the last referendum in March 2013, during which more than 99% of the islands’ inhabitants expressed their desire to maintain their current political status:

When the result was announced in Stanley, the capital—which was plastered with union flags crossed with the words “British to the core”—crowds toasted “Her Majesty and the Falklands” and sang “Rule Britannia”.

For Argentina’s foreign policy makers, the disputed islands has long been a key issue. For neighboring Brazil, all these does not seem to matter much at first glance. When Great Britain’s foreign secretary recently visited Brazil, the issue was not on the agenda. However, massive oil findings in the area would dramatically increase both the islands’ economic importance and make finding a solution to the dispute far more difficult. In the face of tougher Argentine rhetoric, the United Kingdom could  increase its military presence (which currently stands at 1,300 troops backed by four Typhoon jets), complicating Brazil’s maritime strategy in the South Atlantic. If Argentina imposed a full-scale economic blockade of the islands, tension would almost certainly increase further. It surely is in Brazil’s interest to avoid such a scenario.

Fonte: ISAPE

http://isape.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/petroleo-nas-malvinas-um-problema-para-o-brasil/

Argentina files dispute against the European Union over biodiesel

20 December 2013

DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

Argentina files dispute against the European Union over biodiesel

Argentina notified the WTO Secretariat on 19 December of a request for consultations with the European Union regarding anti-dumping measures imposed by the European Union on biodiesel from Argentina, as well as regarding the legislation under which the EU estimated the costs associated with the production and sale of products that were the object of an Anti-Dumping investigation.

In Argentina’s view, the measures are inconsistent with several provisions of the WTO Agreements regarding Anti-dumping.

This is the third case filed by Argentina against measures adopted by the European Union affecting imports of Argentine biodiesel. The others were in August 2012 and May 2013.

Fonte: http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news13_e/ds473rfc_20dec13_e.htm

Argentina y Brasil acuerdan acciones contra espionaje de EEUU

Imagemsil, Argentin

 

Actualizado:

20/09/2013 00:15 GMT

 

Argentina y Brasil han decidido este jueves llevar a cabo acciones conjuntas a fin de encarar el espionaje de Estados Unidos en América Latina, según informa un comunicado de la Cancillería argentina. 

El espionaje de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad de EE.UU. ha sido uno de los temas abordados en un encuentro entre los ministros de Exteriores de Argentina, Hector Timerman, y de Brasil, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, en Buenos Aires, la capital argentina. 

“Los cancilleres plantearon la necesidad de coordinar posiciones y realizar acciones conjuntas frente a las actividades de espionaje de los Estados Unidos en la región”, reza el documento. 

Los dos jefes de la Diplomacia, asimismo, han resaltado la importancia de “avanzar en el desarrollo de herramientas de ciberdefensa, que protejan las comunicaciones y el almacenamiento de información estratégica”. 

Durante la jornada de este jueves, decenas de miembros de los movimientos sociales se han congregado fuera del consulado de Estados Unidos en Río de Janeiro, sureste de Brasil, para protestar contra los programas de vigilancia que aplica EE.UU. al gigante suramericano. 

Después de que la prensa brasileña, basándose en las filtraciones de Edward Snowden, extécnico de la NSA, revelara que tanto la Presidencia como la petrolera estatal de Brasil habían sido víctimas del espionaje de EE.UU., la mandataria del país suramericano, Dilma Rousseff, decidió aplazar la visita de Estado que tenía prevista para el 23 de setiembre a Washington.

- See more at: http://www.hispantv.ir/detail/2013/09/20/241377/argentina-brasil-acuerdan-acciones-espionaje-eeuu#sthash.cD2BWmQX.dpuf

Fonte: http://www.hispantv.ir/detail/2013/09/20/241377/argentina-brasil-acuerdan-acciones-espionaje-eeuu

 Vejam mais matérias sobre América Latina

Sem data para avançar, Mercosul convive com insatisfação e dúvidas

O adiamento da próxima reunião de cúpula do Mercosul, anunciada nesta semana, ocorre em um momento em que o bloco ─ formado por Brasil, Argentina, Paraguai, Uruguai e Venezuela ─ vive um momento de insatisfação de seus membros e de dúvidas sobre seu futuro.

A cúpula estava prevista para junho e agora permanece sem data definida, com previsão para agosto ou setembro, de acordo com assessores do Ministério das Relações Exteriores do Uruguai.

A presidente da Argentina,. Cristina Kirchner, e a presidente Dilma Rousseff (Roberto Stuckert Filho/ABr)

Tensão entre Brasil e Argentina seria um dos motivos da paralisação do Mercosul

Oficialmente, o adiamento foi anunciado para dar tempo para que o presidente eleito do Paraguai, Horacio Cartes, participe do encontro após tomar posse, em agosto. O país foi suspenso do bloco em junho passado.

Por questões internas, a Venezuela (cujo status oficial como membro pleno ainda depende de aprovação pelos paraguaios) também teria pedido mais tempo antes de assumir a presidência temporária do Mercosul.

No entanto, analistas e fontes ligadas aos países-membros destacaram a existência de vários motivos de insatisfação, que se somam a sinais de que o Uruguai está buscando ampliar sua participação em outro bloco, a Aliança do Pacífico (formada por Chile, Colômbia, Peru e México).

‘Nova etapa’

“O grupo tem dado sinais de estar paralisado e de não ter condições de fechar acordos com outros blocos”, disse o professor de relações internacionais da Universidade da Republica, de Montevidéu, Marcel Villant.

“Mas acho que este adiamento responde a uma questão institucional, para dar tempo ao Paraguai para que tenha novo presidente empossado.”

Para o professor de Relações Comerciais e Internacionais da Universidade Tres de Febrero, de Buenos Aires, Felix Peña, o Mercosul está terminando a “etapa de fundação” para entrar em uma nova etapa “que não sabemos qual será”.

Esta etapa inclui, como chamou, “ruídos” entre o Brasil e a Argentina e a atenção que o Uruguai tem dado à Aliança do Pacífico.

Brasil e Argentina

Segundo observadores brasileiros, nos últimos dias, o mal-estar do Brasil com a Argentina está ligado à decisão do governo da presidente Cristina Kirchner de estatizar as ferrovias do país que estavam desde os anos 1990 sob a concessão de uma empresa brasileira, a ALL (América Latina Logística).

Nos bastidores do governo brasileiro, em Brasília, afirmaram que a medida era “esperada”, mas o que surpreendeu foi a forma como foi anunciada, sem aviso às autoridades brasileiras, o que teria aumentado a “desconfiança” entre os dois países.

Brasil e Argentina costumam ser apontados por assessores dos governos e por especialistas como “âncoras” do bloco.

Devido a estas e outras diferenças com a Argentina, o Brasil apoiou o adiamento da reunião, como contaram assessores governamentais.

Além da ALL, a lista de insatisfações do Brasil com seu sócio inclui medidas do governo argentino que levaram à suspensão de investimentos da companhia de mineração Vale no país vizinho e à manutenção da exigência da Declaração Juramentada Antecipada de Importações (DJAI), que atrasa as vendas do Brasil para o mercado vzinho.

Aliança do Pacífico

Alguns setores do governo e do empresariado brasileiro reforçam a visão de uma paralisação no bloco.

Segundo eles, outros grupos estão avançando nos entendimentos enquanto o Mercosul está “preso” a questões como as disputas entre Brasil e Argentina e as dificuldades (atribuidas no Brasil à Argentina e na Argentina ao Brasil) a acordos como entre o bloco e a União Europeia.

“Definitivamente não é um momento glorioso do Mercosul”, disseram negociadores brasileiros do bloco sul-americano.

Por sua vez, o vice-presidente do Uruguai, Danilo Astori, disse que seu país está interessado em “passar de observador para membro pleno” da Aliança do Pacífico, informou nesta semana a imprensa uruguaia. O bloco comercial foi lançado no ano passado.

“O problema é que enquanto dois sócios do bloco (Argentina e Venezuela) estão voltados para questões internas como controle de câmbio, outros querem avançar, mas veem o Mercosul limitado, como é o caso do Uruguai”, disse Marcel Villant.

Fonte: BBCBrasil

Crise cambial na Argentina se intensifica

Crise cambial na Argentina se intensifica

22/03/2013 – 12h08

Da BBC Brasil

Brasília – Medidas anunciadas no início da semana pelo governo da presidenta Cristina Kirchner sacodem o mercado cambial argentino. As medidas aumentam as taxas para gastos com cartão de crédito no exterior e outros itens do setor de turismo, como pacotes de viagens.

Desde o anúncio das medidas, na segunda-feira (18), a cotação do dólar voltou a registrar volatilidade no mercado paralelo. A moeda norte-americana superou a barreira dos 8 pesos na última quarta-feira e ontem (21), apesar da leve queda, fechou cotada a 8,45 pesos – diferença acima de 60% para a cotação oficial, de 5,1 pesos.

Analistas econômicos atribuíram ainda à nova onda de nervosismo fatos como a reunião de emergência, convocada pela presidenta com seus assessores econômicos na quarta-feira, na residência presidencial de Olivos.

A iniciativa foi considerada pouco comum na agenda presidencial e gerou uma série de boatos na imprensa sobre mudanças na política cambial e substituição da presidenta do Banco Central, Mercedes Marcó del Pont.

Desde que o governo implementou o controle cambial, há 17 meses, no fim de 2011, o dólar ganhou diferentes denominações e cotações na Argentina.

A espiral na cotação da moeda norte-americana no paralelo voltou a ser tema de debates nas principais emissoras de rádio e de televisão do país. O dólar é usado com frequência, por exemplo, na compra e venda de imóveis – setor que registrou forte queda desde o controle cambiário, de acordo com dados das câmaras imobiliárias.

Assim como ocorre com o dólar, o real também tem câmbio paralelo no país. A cotação oficial está em torno dos 2 pesos, já a paralela pode superar, dependendo do dia, a barreira dos 4 pesos.

Fonte: http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/agenciabrasil/noticia/2013-03-22/crise-cambial-na-argentina-se-intensifica

Imagem