Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Tuesday's podcast: The week in review with Bill Katz the editor of Urgent Agenda

Guest:   Bill Katz the editor of Urgent Agenda...........The Twitter story gets more and more interesting......People leaving blue states and moving to red states......,,Border and a lack of presidential leadership..........and other stories......

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Tuesday's video: Argentina after the World Cup.....Article 42 and the Biden administration....

Tuesday's video: 
Argentina after the World Cup.....Article 42 and the Biden administration....

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Looking for the economic 'goal'

Down in Argentina, the World Cup parties go on and on.  They can't get enough of Andres Cantor screaming "Argentina campeon del mundo" or world champion.  To be honest, Argentina won on penalty kicks, not a goal, but let's not get technical at a time like this.  Let's just hope that baseball never decides to end World Series extra-inning games with a home run derby.  That would be the end of civilization as we know it.

It's the nation's first Cup since 1986 so many people don't remember the last time that a team brought home a trophy.  The World Cup ride had another benefit:  forget about the economy and watch the games on TV.  And most of the locals did exactly that.

Now, the tournament is over and reality is hitting most people down there.  This is from Lucinda Elliott:  

Argentina’s triumph comes amid political turmoil and a battered economy. Inflation is expected to reach 100 per cent in the year to December. Poverty is high and inching higher. The local peso has collapsed against the US dollar on the widely used black market exchange rate, shattering people’s purchasing power.  

Politics isn’t much brighter. Vice-president Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner was found guilty of corruption this month and the popularity of the leftwing president Alberto Fern├índez has fallen so far that he was advised not to travel to present the prize to team captain Lionel Messi.

Argentina’s success in the month-long World Cup championship has offered respite to the country of 46mn from years of economic underperformance and knocks to their national pride.

Superstar Lionel Messi, who walks on water these days, did not make it to the presidential palace for the customary photo with the president.  The team bus could not move through Buenos Aires because of the thousands on the streets.  I've heard some stories that Messi did not want to politicize the trophy but who knows for sure.  The current President Alberto Fernandez did not get his photo on the balcony with Messi.

The biggest challenges are 12% unemployment and 42% inflation.  The "freedom index" is the problem according to the Heritage Foundation survey:    

Argentina’s economic freedom score is 50.1, making its economy the 144th freest in the 2022 Index. Argentina is ranked 27th among 32 countries in the Americas region, and its overall score is below the regional and world averages.

Over the past five years, Argentina’s economy has been shrinking with the largest contraction coming in 2020. A five-year trend of expanding economic freedom has been broken. 

Dragged down by a huge decline in fiscal health, Argentina has recorded a 0.3-point overall loss of economic freedom since 2017 and has fallen to the very bottom of the “Mostly Unfree” category. 

Property rights, fiscal health, and monetary freedom are particularly weak.

How can South America’s second-largest country be such a mess?  Argentina has vast agricultural and mineral resources, a romantic dance called the tango plus a highly educated population.  What's going on?  A friend once told me that Argentina does have an educated population but he is not sure what they learned in school.  I don't know the answer, but Argentina is a lot better at scoring goals than running an economy.  Just ask the old timers on the streets who remember the 1978 and 1986 celebrations.

Maybe they can play another Cup next month.  

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