For a visitor returning here after a 10-month absence, it is amazing how fast things have changed: the biggest economic bonanza in this country's recent history has suddenly turned into a sharp downturn, and optimism has given way to general anxiety, if not panic.
Fernandez's popularity rate has fallen from a massive 63 percent after winning reelection in October to 39 percent today, according to a new Management & Fit poll. While her recent nationalization of YPF, the country's biggest oil company, brought her a brief uptick in the polls, pot-banging protests in this capital's wealthiest neighborhoods are increasing.
What's more threatening to the government is that the country's biggest labor union - CGT, until recently a close government ally - has begun escalating its protests and is demanding a 30 percent wage increase. Agricultural producers' organizations also are threatening nationwide strikes against the government's escalating taxes on grain exports.
The talk of the day in
After several years during which Fernandez bragged that
"We think the story ends with a large devaluation sooner or later," said a recent report by UBS bank economist
Judging from dozens of interviews here last week, there is only one reason for
Thanks to government subsidies, public transportation in
While commonsense would suggest that
Where will the money come from? It will be borrowed from the state's Social Security System. The government says the plan will create 100,000 jobs in construction work, and help reactivate the economy. Skeptics say the money will disappear in the hands of corrupt officials, like so many times before, and future retirees will not see a penny of their pensions.
"They have a very short-term, strictly political vision of the economy," Lavagna said. "That's very unlikely to change."
What's most worrisome is that a large number or Argentines, while increasingly skeptical about
"There is a growing statist trend, which is very accepted by society," Lavagna said. "The latest polls show that Argentines support statist policies by a margin of two to one."
My opinion: All indications are that
In the process, she will have squandered
I hope I'm wrong about this, and that during the 3.5 years remaining in her term,
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