Viva Argentina! Why it’s right to nationalise companies for its interests


9:50 am - April 19th 2012

by Mary Tracy    


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On Monday, Argentina’s government decided to nationalise 51% of the largest oil and gas company in the country, YPF.

The company used to belong to the Argentinian State, but was privatised in the 90s, and, eventually, sold off to the Spanish company Repsol. The ‘nationalisation’ will be a forced purchase: Argentina will pay for the shares owned by Repsol.

Why is it doing so now? Because Repsol has consistently failed to invest in oil and gas production, forcing Argentina to import energy to keep with internal demand.

In 2011, these imports amounted to 9.4 billion dollars. This in a country believed to have the third largest reserves of hydrocarbons in the world.
This is important. Ever since the privatisation, Argentina has had no say in how its oil and gas is used.

The story has whipped the international community into a frenzy of outrage. And by ‘international community’ I mean Big Businesses and the people who love them: the media and other governments.

The Spanish government has described the move as “attack on Spain”, failing to mention that Repsol is a private company, which only declares 25% of its worldwide earnings to Spain. Brussels has said it will defend the interests of Spain, as if Spain is the same as a private company.

The Spanish media has been spouting abuse at Argentina ever since, doing the bidding of Repsol, one of the country’s largest advertisers

Even the president of Mexico has come out to condemn the nationalisation, forgetting to add that he tried to privatise Mexico’s largest energy company Pemex and failed.

But why does this story matter so much? Here’s why. The nationalisation of a privatised company goes in the exact opposite direction to Neoliberal dogma. It says, ‘you’ll create growth by selling off everything you own to private hands’, and the Argentinian government believe they can create growth by running things themselves.

Argentina went through austerity and privatisation during the 90s, which worsened the economy and led it to default. This is when YPF was privatised. Since Argentina defaulted on its debts, against the advice of ‘international community’, and reversed neo-liberalism, it has been growing strongly.

The same neo-liberalism of austerity and privatisation is being being pushed throughout Europe now, causing further recession in countries such as Spain and Greece

But in Argentina this doesn’t wash. People are praising Argentina for standing up to Big Business and looking after its own. I hope Europeans learn from it and start doing the same.

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About the author
Mary is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy, and co-editor of Women's Views on News. She blogs here.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,South America

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Reader comments


Quite right – and Hugo Chavez is a great man. Ed Miliband should nationalise BP and put Britain on the path of Argentinian economic success.

Why is it doing so now? Because Repsol has consistently failed to invest in oil and gas production, forcing Argentina to import energy to keep with internal demand.

Rand predicted this nationalisation in Atlas Shrugged.

I don’t think Mary Tracey really understands what is going on here.

YPF has been nationalised, and Argentina say they will pay Repsol for the YPF shares.

This however, is not going to happen. YPF was about to be sold to Sinopec for $15bn. Repsol have demanded a minimum of $10bn from the Argentinian government, who have refused to pay this amount. mostly because they can’t, because they are totally broke.

This isn’t nationalisation. It’s theft.

Indeed, theft is a pretyt good way of describing the nationalisation of pension funds the Argentinian government forced through as well – they have no money, have made huge promises, and the only way they can meet them is to essentially confiscate pensioners savings and replace them by unfunded promises.

What this “nationalisation” is going to do is kill any chance of foreign investment into the country – and it desperately needs it. Why would anyone invest if the investment can be unilaterally confiscated?

Short term they might have acquired an oil company for nothing, but they don’t have the approx $20bn they’ll need for investment to develope their oil fields, and now they’are not going to get it from the markets, so even short term their actions are completely self defeating.

Local Argentinians might be positive about these populsit moves, but all this shows is how short-sighted they are, and how populist their leaders are – this isn’t in the interest of the country or it’s people.

4. Matt Wardman

That sounds like a very expensive bit of nationalist posturing by Kirchner.

It may or may not work, but it will still scare away most foreign investment for the foreseeable, the while poking their biggest European trading partner in the eye with a stick.

They may get away with it if they pay a fair market value, but it looks like a classic ‘destroy the value of the company, then natonalize at the post-destruction price’ tactic.

>People are praising Argentina for standing up to Big Business and looking after its own.

By ‘people’ you mean the bit of the Spanish left around the Communists who represent 5-7% of the vote. Ouch.

Argentina went through austerity and privatisation during the 90s, which worsened the economy and led it to default.

I’m not sure this sentence could be more wrong without falling over.

Public spending in the 1990s expanded massively in Argentina, paid for first by privatisations, and then by borrowing in dollar denominated debt. Ultimately, Argentina was in a position where it needed to borrow to pay the interest on its debts. Then it suspended convertibility, then it defaulted. Blaming the Argentine default on austerity is almost unbelievably asinine.

By way of example, there was an Argentine Finance Minister (Ricardo Lopez Murphy) who was appointed with a brief to reduce the deficit, by raising taxes and cutting spending. He lasted 14 days.

The funny thing is that the so-called neo-liberal reforms that were slowly brought in over the 90s were sort of working. Argentina grew at roughly 4% over that decade, and inflation was knocked on the head. What brought Argentina down was its inability to keep public spending at affordable levels.

“Finance Minister (Ricardo Lopez Murphy)”

Any relation?

And on the broader point, Argentina are (in effect) concerned because there isn’t enough foreign investment in their oil industry. And their solution is to confiscate foreign investments. Because that will encourage, um, more foreign investment?

When you say “This in a country believed to have the third largest reserves of hydrocarbons in the world,” you’re talking about shale gas – that’s the reserves Argentina has. How exactly is Argentina supposed to exploit these reserves (the most complicated and expensive sort of reserves to exploit) if it can’t attract foreign investment to do it?

Argentina has sacrificed its long term energy sector in return for a month’s patriotic headlines, and six month’s cash.

6 – Ha! Bizarro-Murphy possibly.

This article is bonkers.

Hey, yes let’s steal, er, nationalise everything here, too. That’ll work.

TimJ,
Neither does the OP explain why Repsol refused to invest sufficiently. They may know something the Argentine government doesn’t.

Who created the oil, was it Repsol?

10 – Repsol rather vehemently deny that they have failed to invest, saying that they have invested some $11bn over the last five years.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2012/04/argentinas-oil-industry

Moreover, Repsol says that the real cause of Argentina’s declining energy trade balance is its maze of price controls and subsidies, which makes investment unprofitable and encourages excess consumption. Most independent energy analysts agree with this analysis.

Nice to see vile blairite traitor rob marchant peer his quisling eyes over the parapet again too.

The argentineans must be doing something right to be rousing such vocal protest from all the usual suspects.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 Joe

“Nice to see vile blairite traitor rob marchant peer his quisling eyes over the parapet again too.”

If you’ve got “traitor” you don’t need “quisling”. If you’re gonna throw childish and hysterical ad homs about you should at least be efficient about it.

Sorry cant pull myself away – loving seeing all the braying city boys kick up such a fuss about this on every relevant comments page :)

What’s got Billy so spooked?

Surely if the doom and gloom soothsaying that has been predicting the millenarian collapse ‘within a year’ of Argentina and Venezuela’s economies, every year for about a decade now, for the cardinal sin of ignoring the rule of the money gods, were to come true, it would be fantastic news for all the vulture capitalists. So why the sad faces :(

16. Torquil Macneil

“The argentineans must be doing something right to be rousing such vocal protest from all the usual suspects.”

Well yes, you can always judge the positive moral value of an action by how many people it upsets. See also ‘anti-war movement’.

17. Luis Enrique

Because Repsol has consistently failed to invest in oil and gas production

which is a surprising thing for an oil and gas producer to do. Does the author have any explanation why Repsol didn’t consider its Argentinian operations worth investing in?

I see from the FT that YPF had just made a big shale gas discovery in Argentina, which they say will “cost $25bn a year for the next 10 years” to develop. I wonder where Argentina plans to get the money, seeing as it hasn’t been able to borrow on international markets since defaulting in 2001. I suppose it’s going to ask China.

18. Torquil Macneil

Very depressing for anyone who loves Argentina to see this slide back towards Peronism. Kirchner has a lot to answer for.

According to Wikipedia, neo-liberalism involves:

1. Fiscal policy Governments should not run large deficits that have to be paid back by future citizens, and such deficits can only have a short term effect on the level of employment in the economy. Constant deficits will lead to higher inflation and lower productivity, and should be avoided. Deficits should only be used for occasional stabilization purposes.

2. Redirection of public spending from subsidies (especially what neoliberals call “indiscriminate subsidies”) and other spending neoliberals deem wasteful toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment

3. Tax reform– broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates to encourage innovation and efficiency;

4. Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;

5. Floating exchange rates;

6. Trade liberalization – liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs; thus encouraging competition and long term growth

7. Liberalization of the “capital account” of the balance of payments, that is, allowing people the opportunity to invest funds overseas and allowing foreign funds to be invested in the home country

8. Privatization of state enterprises; Promoting market provision of goods and services which the government cannot provide as effectively or efficiently, such as telecommunications, where having many service providers promotes choice and competition.

9. Deregulation – abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions;

10. Legal security for property rights; and,

11. Financialisation of capital.

ISTM that most of these points could be accepted by reasonable people on the left. Using ‘neoliberalism’ as a general ugh-word achieves nothing of value.

@11,
No Repsol didn’t create the oil. Can you explain the relevance?

@17,
They could always sell it to a private business with sufficient capitol?

Oh fantastic Mary Tracy. Lets copy Argentina!!! I am sure they live in fantastic conditions. You claim this is the right choice for Argentina but please name me a nationalisation project that has worked. Especially in the energy field. They don’t, they land up rotting and cost the state which funds them billions and billions of dollars.

It is a backward statement from someone who sounds like a soviet era apparatchik. Let us simply paint our production into a corner, removing the revenue producers from the economy through their reorganisation to the public sector. Who pays for the public sector? What does Argentina do when further sectors of their economy are nationalised and they have no more productive tax producing sectors?

Please tell us how the Argentinian government proposes to pay for Repsol? Or perhaps you suggest what many prats in the EU have done which is to print money. Hows that working out by the way?

Does a nations wealth and natural resources belong to its people?
Apparently not judging from this comments thread.

@21

Im pretty sure that a nationalised industry can actually make money for a government, thats partially the point, isn’t it?

24. Torquil Macneil

Cylux, you are confusing ‘state’ with ‘people’.

@14
In the case of people like Rob Marchant it does need to be said twice. Worse than tories, and therefore two layers below vermin.

At the end of the day most of the filthy rich privileged idle leisure classes, that have made this wealthy world such a pain the anus for 99% of the population to live in, at the root of it get their money and power from land and extraction of natural resources, neither of which were made by human hand and both of which are strictly finite.

There is absolutely no reason that wealth from extraction of natural resources shouldn’t primarily be funnelled towards the good of the country’s people at large.

@20

Well my point was, it was never really Repsol’s oil to own, was it? certainly not the previous Argentinean government’s to sell. If you buy stolen goods, are you then right to complain when the original owners turn up and demand it back?

28. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 Joe

“In the case of people like Rob Marchant it does need to be said twice. Worse than tories, and therefore two layers below vermin.”

All right, what’s your actual objection to this guy? Because if it’s just that he doesn’t share your view on the correct policy direction for Labour, you’re being ridiculous.

@24

If that state is democratically elected and spends the money on the people, what’s the difference?

This move is probably close to the right thing to do seeing at how it’s got the neo-liberals shrieking with horror.

Like any investment and / or change there is no guarantee it will succeed or fail. Just like with privatisations in fact.

So we’ll just have to see. And meanwhile the neo-liberals can suck it up for a bit.

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 Joe

“There is absolutely no reason that wealth from extraction of natural resources shouldn’t primarily be funnelled towards the good of the country’s people at large.”

Agreed, but there’s a big difference between this and just snatching possession away from another party, i.e. theft. Leaving the moral issues aside, it’s also short-sighted, as it means nobody will ever want to do business in your country again. And THEN what will you snatch?

Nationalisation is good and we need more of it, but this ain’t the way to do it.

32. Luis Enrique

Cylux

yes, that’s why when a country sells the right to extract natural resources to a foreign company it receives royalties/taxes/licence fees whatever – I haven’t checked, but I imagine Argentina received annual revenues from Repsol.

However, having sold the organization that does the actual extracting (YPF), it’s not necessarily a smart move to seize it back.

I can imagine circumstances where renationalisation might be in the country’s best interests, perhaps if a former “odious regime” had sold off natural resource rights on extremely unfavorable terms.

However, it often makes sense for a country to use private producers rather than nationalise the industry – it depends on the country in question’s ability to finance the industry, technical capacity and so forth. Venezuela, for example, has seen oil output shrink by about 1/3 since nationalization I think and may have done better striking a deal with private producers. When you nationalize, you get to keep all the revenues but you also bear all the costs – you may do better letting somebody else bear the costs, make a profit but pay you per barrel they extract. Whether private or nationalized is the right decision is a case-by-case sort of question – Norway, for example, does very nicely with a nationalized industry.

I don’t know the details in this case, but from a quick read it looks like Argentina might struggle to fund the investment it is complaining Repsol has failed to make, which is why I am guessing they might just end up getting the money from the Chinese, whether on terms that are really advantageous to the Argentinian people, well I don’t know what kind of bargain China will drive. .

@ Joe, 27:

“Well my point was, it was never really Repsol’s oil to own, was it? certainly not the previous Argentinean government’s to sell. If you buy stolen goods, are you then right to complain when the original owners turn up and demand it back?”

If the oil wasn’t for the previous government to sell, then the current government can’t be the “original owners”. Anyway, the reserves themselves are only part of the story. Getting them from underground to consumers doesn’t just happen by magic.

@ BenM, 30:

“This move is probably close to the right thing to do seeing at how it’s got the neo-liberals shrieking with horror”.

The points raised against are practical rather than neo-liberal shrieking.

1) Is the Argentine government right to complain of under-investment?
2) Can it afford to invest itself?
3) What will this do to inward investment?
4) Is the government offering to pay a fair price?

There seems to be a great risk to the Argentine population as a whole.

@17: One of the reasons given for the low investment is the price regulation by the Argentine government: prices for domestic energy are kept extremely low, meaning that, despite the fact Argentina is hydrocarbon rich, relatively little profit is returned for large investment. Low prices are good for the population, but not so good for international companies looking to make a return on their investment.

Luis: “However, having sold the organization that does the actual extracting (YPF), it’s not necessarily a smart move to seize it back. ”

Absolutely. A little reflection could have led Argentina’s president to consider the effect of the seizure on downstream foreign investment in Argentina.

37. George Hallam

@19 “ISTM that most of these points could be accepted by reasonable people on the left.”

This may be so.

On the other hand, I don’t count myself as ‘left’ and I don’t accept any of the points you list.

True, fiscal deficits are needed stabilization purposes, but, since market economies are inherently unstable, their use can hardly restricted to the odd occasion.

All the other points are pro-cyclical and increase instability. Reasonable people would, if they thought about, see this.

34 JackC

1) Is the Argentine government right to complain of under-investment?
2) Can it afford to invest itself?
3) What will this do to inward investment?
4) Is the government offering to pay a fair price?

I don’t know but I can’t see any of these being a barrier to re-nationalisation really.

Ultimately for the Argentinian people to decide through the proxy of their elected government.

Can they afford it? Yes.

What will it do for foreign investment? Should any country rely on foreigners to do what it could do for itself?

39. Luis Enrique

BingoBob

that makes sense, although it must be combined with some obligation to sell the oil/gas into the local market, otherwise Repsol could still have invested in Argentina and sold the oil/gas internationally.

in which case, if Argentina controls domestic energy prices at a level where a private company won’t profit from investing in production to sell at those prices, it likely also means a nationalized company won’t profit from investing in production to sell at those prices either (assuming the two are equally efficient) – now a nationalized company doesn’t have to profit, it can make a loss by effectively subsidizing energy for domestic consumption. So the Argentinian state could choose to invest in energy production in order to supply the domestic market at a loss, and if that’s what they want to do, fine. The problem comes with how to finance it. If you are already rich, no problem. Otherwise you need to borrow, and how are you going to repay loans if your investments aren’t going to make any money because you are supplying to the domestic market at a loss (or at insufficient profit)?

of course what you could do is ask China to fund the investment, supply your domestic market at a loss, but then also let China take the oil/gas for bargain-basement royalties/taxes. So the Argentinian people could still lose out depending on how much they have to give away to tempt China (or whoever else) to stump up the money, when no private producer is going to touch them after this.

CG @ 31:

“Nationalisation is good…”

What evidence do you have for that claim? If it’s true, why has the global trend (often even in socialist-inclined states) been towards privatisation? All the evidence I know of points to state ownership (which is not the same as state funding) being inefficient and bureaucratic. The high-water mark of nationalisation in the UK occurred in 1970s, which was an economically disastrous period for the country when (for example) it took 6 months to get a new telephone line, etc, etc…Which is not to say that all nationalisations are bad and all privatisations are good, but that on balance privatisation tends to have better outcomes.

41. Planeshift

“well I don’t know what kind of bargain China will drive. .”

One that will be extremely favourable to argentina i’d imagine. The idea of gaining a foothold and political influence in the backyard of the US and developing a friendly relationship with argentina will trump any idea the chinese will have of doing deals on unfavourable terms. Geopolitical considerations occur all the time in oil deals, and this is no different.

@38 BenM

The whole point is that Argentina is completely broke, and CAN’T afford to invest. They can’t even cover basic government spending, which is why they’ve had to nationalise (expropriate) pension funds and then do the same to YPF.

They can’t raise money from debt markets, as they’ve consistently refused to pay it back – so no-one will lend to them any more.

Which means they won’t be able to raise the huge amounts of money needed to invest in their oild and gas fields. Again, no-one is going to give it to them if it is likely to simply be taken expropriated.

Read the economist article again, please;

http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2012/04/argentinas-oil-industry

Tyler

Ultimately Argentina is a sovereign democratic country can do what it likes.

No doubt they have planned how they will finance this.

Now, those plans may be bonkers or they may not, but if they are bonkers, then the Argentine people will have the ultimate say I guess.

Argentina is rich in resources – as the economist article says – and there is no reason at all why those resources should be under the control of unaccountable foreign owned private companies.

Good luck to Argentina I say. If it works, great. If not, then the current government will get the kicking it deserves.

Privatisation itself was an experiment when it was first mooted and it has had very mixed – probably on balance poor – results for democracies everywhere.

@42 What a ludicrous article, though no surprise from the Economist which is wifully ignorant about latin america as it is a living breathing contradiction to all the shibboleths the rag holds dear.

Particularly enjoyed the allusion to Martin Niemöller’s anti-nazi statement in the very first statements, especially in the light of many bankers that seem to think they are the 21st century’s persecuted minority.

All in all, mere hearsay and wishful thinking filtered through the author’s highly prejudiced lens.

45. Chaise Guevara

@ 40 TONE

“What evidence do you have for that claim? ”

What evidence do I have for a subjective statement of personal preference?

The reason I think we need more of it is that in some cases we’re currently using a model of state-funded private ownership, which to me seems to be the worst of both worlds. Trains are the most obvious example – I’m paying for the infrastructure out of my taxes, yet Virgin or whoever can charge me triple figures for a one-way ticket from Manchester to London (of course, I can get a reasonable price if I know three months in advance when I’ll be travelling, so I’ll get right on that once I’ve fixed the DeLorean’s flux capacitor).

Now, if the market allows for real competition, then the solution is probably to privatise. Two private bus companies compete for my route to work, and despite the niggling annoyances we get a comprehensive and reliable service for cheap. In some markets, however, barriers to entry are too high for this to be realistic (how likely do you think it is that a firm will build a brand new rail or water network?). There I think nationalisation is better than the stupid system we use now.

The other place I prefer nationalisation is where I think everybody should be entitled to the service or products being delivered, e.g. healthcare, but obviously that’s down to personal ideology.

Argentina is rich in resources – as the economist article says – and there is no reason at all why those resources should be under the control of unaccountable foreign owned private companies.

So long as they are happy for those resources to remain underground, then good luck to them. Since Argentina’s unilateral default a decade ago, they still find it hard to raise money on the international capital markets, meaning that if they want to develop these resources, they’ll have to look to their own internal finances to do so. The fact that they recently nationalised private pension funds and central bank reserves in a quest to get extra cash (plus fiddling their inflation figures to cheat their lenders) may give you a hint as to how flexible their national finances are.

The short version is that, in a move ostensibly undertaken because of a lack of direct foreign investment, Argentina have deliberately scuppered their chances of attracting any direct foreign investment.

no surprise from the Economist which is wifully ignorant about latin america as it is a living breathing contradiction to all the shibboleths the rag holds dear.

The 20th and 21st Century history of Argentina could be used by the economist as the best evidence possible that they’re right about more or less everything.

BenM,
Nationalisation was the experiment, Privatisation reversed it.

You can argue that some sell-offs were poorly executed, under-priced, etc, but the track-record of Nationalisation was one of persistent and outright failure. This is true even if you don’t include the Soviet Union.

There may be a middle-course that would be more successful than either, but arguing for the return of the likes of British Gas, British Rail* and British Leyland is surely a non-starter. (I once tried explaining to my children that being able to own your own phone was a relatively new development. Try it, the looks you get are hilarious).

* Before anyone defends British Rail, please provide proof that you experienced it! And/or the sandwiches (subject to availability).

‘Nationalisation was the experiment, Privatisation reversed it.’

Really.
I know the neoliberal nutjobs seem to think that their sacred way – the only way – goes back to the very creation of the Earth and the Universe, along with its real estate and commodities, by Mammon in 6 unregulated working days way back in the eighttenth or nineteenth centuries, but I don’t recall multinational investment consortia and hedge funds being around for the vast majority of human history?

Planeshift: Good call – that’s the only sane explanation I’ve seen for Argentina’s actions. Yes, it is quite likely that the Chinese government will offer them a fairly generous deal (far more generous than China offers in Africa), for geopolitical reasons. A job as a political analyst beckons.

Joe: Repsol is a company that drills for gas and oil, not a multinational hedge fund etc etc. It’s no different in concept from the model of limited liability companies that we’ve had for nearly 200 years.

Of course, they could be thinking about the oil reserves discovered in the Falklands waters, couldn’t they?

Kirchner is planning ahead. Perhaps today she can’t rely on borrowing on the international money markets but conventional hydrocarbon reserves are much more likely to attract investment than shale gas.

I do wonder at the siren voices declaring that Argentina’s break with Friedmanite dogma will render her an international pariah and incipient failed state. The risk is, of course, that the opposite happens and Chicago School economic ideology is shown to be utter nonsense.

‘The risk is, of course, that the opposite happens and Chicago School economic ideology is shown to be utter nonsense.’

Hasnt stopped them as of yet.

Nationalisation was the experiment, Privatisation reversed it

Only in the mind of the neo-liberal.

There may be a middle-course that would be more successful than either, but arguing for the return of the likes of British Gas, British Rail* and British Leyland is surely a non-starter

An argument can always be raised and is never a “non starter” despite the histrionics of the neo-liberals in order to shut down debate.

Looking around you’ll find there’s a near universal clamour for renationalisation of the railways, and calls are growing louder in the energy field too as people realise that squandering away strategic energy resources to the private sector was probably a bad move in light of price inflation here.

Perhaps commercial goods manufacture is a step too far – as in the case of British Leyland – although looking at our industrial capacity, free marketeers will have to explain how giving that away helped our industrial base.

Nevertheless, no one is arguing for complete nationalisation of all industries. But no one can defend natural resources being hogged by foreign companies.

And privatisation has proved no panacea to the economic problems of those countries who practised it.

46 TimJ

Since Argentina’s unilateral default a decade ago

Why skim over this little detail?

Argentina was following all the potty neo-liberal prescriptions at the time – including mass privatisations!

GH @ 37:

“…I don’t accept any of the points you list.”

So you are even against the rule of law and property rights (11)? And policies like (2) and (6) that will help the poor?

“market economies are inherently unstable”

Market economies are dynamic and certainly not static, but that does not make them “inherently unstable”. And even if they are, the cure would be worse than the disease.

@ Joe/BenM

You do realise that nationalisation is the new thing…not private industry, don’t you?

You do also realise that nationalisation has almost without exception been a total disaster. If you can, give me 10 examples of nationalisation ever working….i can’t think of more than a couple.

Regardless, Argentina will not be able to finance anything. Their primary budget balance is tiny, and once debt repayments are included they have a budget deficit. They can’t really get any money from debt markets (which is why they had to effectively steal pension funds and use central bank deposits), so where on earth do you think they are going to get the money from to invest in oil and gas infrastructure?

You will undoubtably say “the Chinese”. They might, but firstly, China has lots of better options around the world than Argentina. Secondly, the Chinese insist on being the top creditor….so would demand a lot more for their investment than YPF would. Do you think the Chinese will invest for fun, or for the benfit of Argentinians?

You, sunshine, are living in La-La land.

By the way, we can easily compare Argentina with it’s Latam neighbours. Year to date, Brazil equities are up 10.9%, Chile up 8.5%, Mexico up 6.6%….Argentina DOWN 4.4% (or down (11.5% on the weighted index). It’s one of the worst perfoming markets in the world, only really SPain is worse.

Argentina was following all the potty neo-liberal prescriptions at the time – including mass privatisations!

The cause of the default wasn’t Argentina’s economic reforms. It was the fact that it was running enormous budget deficits throughout the 1990s that it was paying for in dollar-denominated debt, and had a hefty load of debt inherited from Carlos Menem. It was a debt-driven default.

CG @ 45:

“Trains are the most obvious example ”

Not ideal, I grant you; but the current system is far superior to BR – more people are travelling by train than ever before, in newer rolling stock on safer lines and with more efficient and timely services and with better catering…

Nationalised services without competition soon become captive to the producer interests — ie they are run for the benefit of the people who work there, not the consumer. Moreover, governments cannot resist – to put it crudely – starving nationalised industries of investment in order to bribe the electorate with their own money.

“In some markets, however, barriers to entry are too high for this to be realistic (how likely do you think it is that a firm will build a brand new rail or water network?). There I think nationalisation is better than the stupid system we use now.”

I was with you in that paragraph until your final sentence. I cannot see any problem with the state (say) providing the infrastructure for a national water grid and then leasing it to private water companies (or even selling it off to recoup the investment). The countries with the best public services in the world — France and Germany , imo — tend to rely on a mixture of state-funded public and private suppliers. And it is precisely because France has just such a mix of health care providers that they have the world’s best health care system, while the UK muddles through with a sclerotic, over-centralised system with relatively poor service broadly on a par with Poland’s.

56. TimJ

Those deficits were caused by an economy sagging under the weight of neo-liberal so-called “reforms”.

If you get all your info on Argentina from the Economist and ‘equities’ then you may just get a teensy tiny bit of a narrow view, I think.

Funny how the neoliberal nutjobs seem to believe in a bizarre world where private untrammelled capital is an unquestioned good and any democratic national control over any economic activity (i.e. a world of one dollar one vote, not one man one vote) is a totalitarian nightmare, yet everyone else are the ‘extremists’. Even if they are essentially putting forward policy ideas that wouldnt be out of place in a tory party manifesto of 50 years ago.

@ BenM

No, the crisis in Argentina was because of masive government overspending and an exchange rate pegged to the US dollar. They had too much debt.

@ Joe

No, I don’t get all my information on Argentina from the economist. Being an emerging markets specialist, I get information from all sorts of sources. Zerohedge has had some nice stuff on Argentina in the last few days – and they can hardly be called neoliberal.

Why do you think nationalisation is in some way good? You say it is for democratic reasons, yet historically nationalised industry has hardly been seen as a beacon of democratic accountability. Indeed, it tends to be badly run, uncompetative, costly, for those within the industry itself rather than the customers, unproductive and historically sees very high rates of corruption and asset stripping.

Also, why stop at YSF? Why not nationalise everything? Private industry and competition is a massive driver of growth – even the Chinese have realised that. Why would anyone in their right minds want to go backwards towards nationalism and communism?

Regardless, Argentina and Kercher seem intent on digging themselves into another massive hole, and I pity the people who are going to suffer – which will not be the Argentinian politicians, but the ordinary people.

61. Chaise Guevara

@ 57 TONE

“Not ideal, I grant you; but the current system is far superior to BR – more people are travelling by train than ever before, in newer rolling stock on safer lines and with more efficient and timely services and with better catering…”

I wouldn’t put any of those down to privitisation except efficiency, and I don’t think that one’s true from a consumer perspective. More people – services tend to expand; safer and more timely – technology improves; better catering – food in general has improved hugely in the UK over the last few decades.

“Nationalised services without competition soon become captive to the producer interests — ie they are run for the benefit of the people who work there, not the consumer.”

Why? The government has more to fear from the electorate than its own staff. We don’t have all-powerful unions any more.

“Moreover, governments cannot resist – to put it crudely – starving nationalised industries of investment in order to bribe the electorate with their own money.”

This is true, but seems to me to be less of a problem that what you get when a private company has a monopoly over a vital service (i.e. “don’t like it? Tough”).

“I was with you in that paragraph until your final sentence. I cannot see any problem with the state (say) providing the infrastructure for a national water grid and then leasing it to private water companies (or even selling it off to recoup the investment). ”

The only reason you don’t see a problem with this is that our water rates are quite tightly controlled. But see my example above, where I pay for rail infrastructure maintenance, upgrades and extentions, but if I want to purchase a ticket on the day of travel I get charged maybe £150, as the train company knows it’s pretty much the only game in town.

“The countries with the best public services in the world — France and Germany , imo — tend to rely on a mixture of state-funded public and private suppliers.”

Which is probably ideal, but again can’t be done with things like trains.

Tyler – no – I dont think everything should be nationalised, just as someone said, the obvious stuff, like services everyone should have equal access to, like health and education, natural monopolies like utilities and transport networks, and natural resources, which shouldnt belong to anyone privately as noone has created them in the first place. Land also falls into this category but I feel a powerful land tax whilst allowing private land holdings would be the compromise here, along with plenty of government owned land and land reform to break up large areas of land owned since feudal times, when they were essentially stolen by force.

63. George Hallam

@54. TONE said “Market economies are dynamic and certainly not static, but that does not make them “inherently unstable”.

I can agree that being dynamic doesn’t MAKE market economies inherently unstable.

It is possible to imagine building a dynamic system that was stable.

However, in practice this would not be a simple task.

The very high levels of interconnectedness between sectors involve kind of feedback loops that make ‘chaotic’ (i.e. unstable) behaviour inevitable.

It are these features, which are inherent in a market economy, that cause the instability.

Economic history shows that this is exactly what we get.

64. Luis Enrique

“the Argentinian crisis was caused by …”

at least read this first

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_Argentina#Economic_crisis

obviously the economy was in trouble before the “neoliberal reforms” and the policy of currency pegging (not usually part of the neoliberal prescription) played a role too – and some of the neoliberal reforms may have failed to help / made matters worse.

Blimey! I arrive late to the party and this is what I find!

In related news… is any of the commenters here a woman?

CG @ 61:

“I wouldn’t put any of those down to privitisation except efficiency…”

That’s a significant concession, though.

“Why? The government has more to fear from the electorate than its own staff.”

Labour governments have much to fear from the trade unions claiming to represent public sector staff, as they fund the party. And all governments recognise that public sector workers have votes, which is why Gordon Brown tried to buy them.

“We don’t have all-powerful unions any more.”

That’s partly because of privatisation. Increase nationalisation and unionised sectoral interests will soon hold the nation to ransom.

“This is true, but seems to me to be less of a problem that what you get when a private company has a monopoly over a vital service (i.e. “don’t like it? Tough”).”

But state monopolies behave in exactly the same way! Monopolies, public or private, are bad things.

“The only reason you don’t see a problem with this is that our water rates are quite tightly controlled.”

And so they should be when competition is minimal. That said even with minimal competition, in my area, the water quality improved hugely within a year of privatisation – previously, it was brown and unpleasant to taste, though perfectly safe, and we spent a lot on water filters.

“But see my example above…”

Point taken. But I’m not unhappy with that, as I can and do plan ahead. And the service is hugely improved on what BR provided. Perhaps the subsidy needs to be increased. I honestly don’t know enough about the subject to judge.

“Which is probably ideal, but again can’t be done with things like trains”

So you would support the introduction of the French healthcare system here?

In related news… is any of the commenters here a woman?

Does this actually matter particularly in a thread about Argentine economics?

Those deficits were caused by an economy sagging under the weight of neo-liberal so-called “reforms”.

Nice try.

GH @ 63:

“The very high levels of interconnectedness between sectors involve kind of feedback loops that make ‘chaotic’ (i.e. unstable) behaviour inevitable. ”

That is waffle. Even in planned economies there are “very high levels of interconnectedness between sectors”. Moreover, the rigidities of a planned economy make external shocks (eg a bad harvest) harder to cope with.

“Economic history shows that this is exactly what we get.”

Does it? Examples, please. Relatively free market capitalism is the only game in town. It is a dynamic and largely self-correcting system — like nature, in fact, where we see some ‘extreme’ events but the system is not “inherently unstable”.

This thread really shows why science, when it comes to the economy, is nothing but a dream.

I am telling you that the country was plundered through “foreign investment” in the 90s, that privatisations wrecked holy havoc and that since reversing these policies, Argentina is doing much better. And people don’t want to believe this, relying instead on “facts” made up by the very people who represent the “foreign investors”.

Commenters say the country is “broke”, and yet again, Argentina hasn’t seen so much public spending in decades… If that is what “broke” means, then the UK, with its cutting on public spending, must be beyond broke.

“Facts”, the least important thing in a discussion around politics and economics.

There’s a certain amount of prejudice against nationalisation in the UK – Thatcherism has indoctrinated with us with the view that it just can’t work, even (seemingly) in the case of vital public utilities, transport, and natural resources.

But other countries retain public ownership in varying degrees – many public utilities in France, Sweden, and Finland are partly or wholly publicly owned; in Sweden some chemists are publicly owned, as are liquor stores. True, the direction of travel has been the same as the UK’s – neoliberalism has been on the ascendant worldwide – but I think that might begin to change now.

Even in the UK many utilities are part-nationalised – it’s just that they’re owned by the French and German governments and by various countries’ sovereign wealth funds, instead of by our own state. Orange and T-Mobile are owned by a joint venture between France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, both of which are still partly state-owned, for instance. One of our power companies, EDF, is wholly owned by the French EDF, which in turn is 85% owned by the French state.

@18 Torquil ["Very depressing for anyone who loves Argentina to see this slide back towards Peronism. Kirchner has a lot to answer for."]

Sorry to disappoint you but Argentina returned to Peronism when Nestor Kirchner became President in May 2003.

(True, Carlos Menem, in power 1989-1999, was officially a Peronist, but his neoliberal policies were the opposite of classical Peronism.)

Aerolineas Argentinas was renationalised in 2008.

Some people here think that the nationalisation will deter foreign investment. But Argentina claim they have seen substantial interest from foreign companies in working together with them ( http://buenosairesherald.com/article/98456/multinational-companies-already-showing-interest-for-ypf-de-vido ) and more concretely they’ve just announced a new deal with France’s Total to work together to boost natural gas output ( http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/98638/government-says-france%E2%80%99s-total-to-seek-gas-output ). Plus, Venezuela has said it will give Argentina technical, operational and legal advice and assistance ( http://en.mercopress.com/2012/04/17/chavez-supports-nationalization-of-ypf-offers-venezuela-s-experience-in-the-matter ).

Mary Tracy Wrong Wrong Wrong, Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong Wrong.

74. George Hallam

@68
Tone qouted George Hallam:
“The very high levels of interconnectedness between sectors involve kind of feedback loops that make ‘chaotic’ (i.e. unstable) behaviour inevitable. ”

Tone then said
“That is waffle.”

Not to an engineeer.

@ 70 RP
No, Thatcherism did not indoctrinate us with the view that it can’t work. Thatcherism only became popular as a result of the appalling mess created by the Wilson governments and the view of a majority of the country that nationalisation had made things worse, much worse.
Every nationalised industry in Britain that I can think of has performed worse than its private sector predecessor, with possible exception of British Gas (I am not old enough to remember and can’t find any useful historical comment).

76. George Hallam

@68 tone said

‘Even in planned economies there are “very high levels of interconnectedness , between sectors”. ‘

True, but planned economies are, well… planned. The plans take account of the interconnectedness.

‘Moreover, the rigidities of a planned economy make external shocks (eg a bad harvest) harder to cope with.”‘

Sure, external shocks are a problem for any system.

We say that the instability of market economies is INHERENT because it comes from endogenous causes.

That is, there will be instability even if there were NO external shocks.

Oh fantastic Mary Tracy. Lets copy Argentina!!! I am sure they live in fantastic conditions.

And they were in worse conditions when right-wing IMF and US-backed people were running things.

How about looking at how the left-wing candidate has done in the last 5 years versus how the right-wingers did before that?

Let’s face it – across the world the right has been discredited on economics. Most of the benefit has gone to the top 10%. It happened in Latin america during the 90s.

@69 Mary Tracy: “I am telling you that the country was plundered through ‘foreign investment’ in the 90s, that privatisations wrecked holy havoc and that since reversing these policies, Argentina is doing much better. And people don’t want to believe this, relying instead on ‘facts’ made up by the very people who represent the ‘foreign investors’. ”

Compare Brazil with its woman president Dilma Rousseff, elected to office in January 2011 as the successor to President Lula da Silva.

Brazil had a string of go-it-alone development policies during the 1980s, including high tariffs on computer electronics to promote development of an indigenous computer industry. What a splendid idea! Those trade barreirs were dismantled in the early 1990s when it was realised that the effect had been to make computer electronics products so costly in Brazil that they weren’t bought and used, which left Brazilians lagging behind in the global IT revolution.

As for now:

As of December 1, 2011 the Brazilian government decided to attract and foster the return of foreign investors to the Brazilian market by reducing to zero the applicable rate of the Tax on Financial Transactions (IOF) levied on foreign investments in shares and private securities. The IOF is a regulatory tax and the rates are decreased or increased by the Brazilian government whenever the authorities decide to foster or reduce the inflow of foreign currency funds into the country.
http://www.mondaq.com/x/155974/Inward+Foreign+Investment/Brazil+Eliminates+The+IOF+On+Foreign+Investments+On+Shares+And+Private+Securities

Brazil has recently overtaken Britain as the world’s sixth largest economy measured by national GDP.

We’ll be interested to see how well Argentina’s economy flourishes compared with Brazil’s. A friendly tip, Mary, don’t knock subjects you don’t understand. As they used to say in the 1960s, if there is anything worse for a developing country than being exploited by multinational companies, it is not being exploited by multinational companies.

79. George Hallam

@68
Tone quoted George Hallam:
“Economic history shows that this is exactly what we get.”
Tone said:
“Does it?”
Yes, that’s what economic history shows.
“Examples, please.”
Try reading the Financial Times.
“ Relatively free market capitalism is the only game in town.”
Perhaps, it is at the moment. But this is irrelevant to our discussion
“ It is a dynamic and largely self-correcting system”
Yes, I agree that ‘Relatively free’ markets have been dynamic.
They have also been ‘self-correcting,’ but not in a good way. Markets tend to overshoot. The corrections occur through catastrophes.
“ — like nature, in fact, where we see some ‘extreme’ events but the system is not “inherently unstable”.”
Yes, just like nature. ‘Extreme’ events happen in nature precisely because natural systems are chaotic that is, ‘inherently unstable’.
Think populations and eco-system collapses.

Every nation has the right – through its political structures as appropriate – to control its own natural resources, and to use those resources for the widest possible benefits to their own society first and foremost. Indeed, I would say that any government which didn’t do this is betraying the interests of the people of that country. Putting the avarice of ‘foreign investors’ first is one of the things which has led us to where we are today, as the Friedman-Hayek axis has dominated political and economic discourse for more than half my lifetime.

I’m an atheist, and it’s interesting to note the reaction of the ‘true believers’ in market theory, both here and elsewhere. They’re similar to the responses atheists get from religionists who feel backed into a corner: there is denial; there is the attempt to claim that the other side ‘simply doesn’t understand’ (like the ‘argument’ that religion can only be critiqued by people who have studied theology for seven years, we are asked to believe that unless you got a 2:1 in Economics you can’t possibly make any claims against the prevailing orthodoxy, even if you can see with your own eyes the corrosive and devastating effects it has had/is having on real people and their prospects); and there is the underlying assumption that the marketising and monetising extremism which has held sway over most of the planet for the last three decades or more is The One True Way(TM).

In short, in facing the market dogmatist, one is facing a form of fundamentalist, and one should not expect anything – not evidence, not even human compassion – to change his/her views.

81. George Hallam

@68 “like nature, in fact, where we see some ‘extreme’ events but the system is not “inherently unstable”.”

If nature is inherently stable why do we get extreme events?

What can cause such events?
What is external to nature?
If there is no external cause then it can only be down to endogenous factors.
That is to say nature is inherently unstable.

GH @ 73 & 75:

“Not to an engineeer.”

Pathetic. I did not say it was meaningless. I regard it as waffle because it is pitched at such a high level of generality.

“True, but planned economies are, well… planned. The plans take account of the interconnectedness.”

But the interconnectedness in an industrialised economy is so complex it cannot be modelled in a plan. And no plan can take account of unexpected external shocks — black swans, if you like.

“Sure, external shocks are a problem for any system.”

But they are more of a problem for a planned system with its rigidities. With flexible exchange rates and free-ish markets, capitalism can adapt and re-stabilise where planned economies crumble.

@Bob B, currently Argentina is projected to have 4.8% GDP growth in 2012, compared with 3.5% in Brazil (and 3.7% in Latin America as a whole). For the last ten years Brazil has followed a more centrist and pragmatic approach compared with Argentina’s more leftwing populism, and for several years Argentine growth has been higher.

@John77, I am not sure that is right, but assuming for a moment that it is, it doesn’t explain why the French can make it work – isn’t the SNCF better than the British private train companies? Is EDF any worse than any other electricity supplier? Is Orange worse than Vodafone? Even in purely UK terms, is the BBC worse than ITV?

A recent study of Sweden’s experience with privatisations found that there was no evidence for the supposed benefits ( http://www.thelocal.se/36006/20110907/ ) and that further research would be needed to try to find them..

@70: “But other countries retain public ownership in varying degrees – many public utilities in France, Sweden, and Finland are partly or wholly publicly owned; in Sweden some chemists are publicly owned, as are liquor stores.”

In Sweden and Finland many of these things were originally developed by the public sector; they have not been private businesses that then would have been taken over by the state. For instance, railways, electric companies or phone network. Or mining and metal refining companies (which have since mostly been privatised). Many of these were actually built as state companies.

I can assure you that also in these countries the trend is rather to privatise things that the state can no longer operate effectively, not nationalise existing businesses owned by private operators. Sometimes privatisation is done on ideological grounds – just like nationalisation is sometimes done. There are also many cases where privatisation has gone wrong – but the track record of privatisations is better than the track record of nationalisations, which seldom develop a working industry. They give toys to politicians but do not benefit the people. Just look at where South America is.

I’d be wary of privatising natural monopolies (such as water companies) but I’m extremely happy that in my country the state got rid of GSM and Internet operators, for instance. They are far better run by private owners. And although privatising annual car inspections actually means giving public service and law enforcement tasks to private parties, in practise I’m also very happy that we could replace all those nasty little hitlers with commercial technical auditors who actually try to help you, politely, while enforcing the road safety.

The liquor company here is a state monopoly, but I hope everyone realises what would happen if the state nationalises restaurants in order to ensure that everyone is offered good food. Just think of the indignation and threats to Michelin when they refuse to award any stars! And of course it is the fault of the evil and stupid rating agency, the food is the best because the state says so!

@ the judge

“I’m an atheist, and it’s interesting to note the reaction of the ‘true believers’ in market theory, both here and elsewhere.”

This is just ad hom. It’s not about faith, but rather rational debate. I suspect you don’t have the rational arguments against economic liberty and free trade between nations.

The rest of your comment is an emotional tirade in which you attempt to seize the moral highground (e.g. the bit about ‘human compassion’, how you deny it to those who disagree with you). In short, you seem to be the one basing your position of faith.

I agree that some people can be patronising in arguments about economics (Bob B does it to me, because I read books by ‘fringe’ economists). Nevertheless, you should make your point with logic and reason, rather than blowing off a load of self-righteous steam.

No offence :)

86. So Much For Subtlety

69. Mary Tracy

This thread really shows why science, when it comes to the economy, is nothing but a dream.

No, it shows that psychology has not got all the answers, but little else.

I am telling you that the country was plundered through “foreign investment” in the 90s, that privatisations wrecked holy havoc and that since reversing these policies, Argentina is doing much better. And people don’t want to believe this, relying instead on “facts” made up by the very people who represent the “foreign investors”.

If you tell me three times does that make it true? Why do you think anyone should believe what you say is true? Those foreign investors have invested billions. Which means they have spent millions getting the best advice they can get. You on the other hand are some quasi-anonymous blogger. Why would anyone take your word for it over theirs? They have to get it right or they will lose those billions. You do not.

Commenters say the country is “broke”, and yet again, Argentina hasn’t seen so much public spending in decades… If that is what “broke” means, then the UK, with its cutting on public spending, must be beyond broke.

Yes, that is what being broke means. People who go on credit card splurges often never buy so much just as they are running out of money. Added to which some of that is inflation which you cannot honestly report on in Argentina any more because they will jail you. Real rises are mercifully slightly lower.

“Facts”, the least important thing in a discussion around politics and economics.

That seems to be the rule on LC.

Still it is not all bad. Every generation or so Argentina manages to run itself into the sand. The currency becomes worthless. And the country becomes a great destination for tourism. Argentina is a beautiful country with even more beautiful women and some very nice scenery. By about this time next year it will be cheaper than Thailand. Sad for the people of Argentina but then they did it to themselves. No one forced them. I am even thinking of buying a house in BA this time around. I reckon it will be a bit high-risk but then I ought to be able to get a nice 19th century mansion in BA for about the price of a used Ford Cortina some time in 2015.

Not ideal, I grant you; but the current system is far superior to BR – more people are travelling by train than ever before, in newer rolling stock on safer lines and with more efficient and timely services and with better catering…

Evidence that the ‘lines’ are safer ? Actually rail accident figures have been pretty near unchanged for some time now, certainly since before privatisation, this is just the reverse image of the claim that rail travel is now more dangerous post privatisation after the statistical blip caused by Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potter’s Bar. The newer rolling stock has been procured by a tortuous and highly expensive process emanating from the DfT it is more bureaucratic and state directed than when the railways were nationalised and none of the new trains are a patch on the HST. The more efficient and timely services claim is dubious, it depends where you are talking about, what is your definition of efficient here ? Freight traffic, which you don’t mention has been static at best and the increase in passenger traffic was a result of a booming economy rather than anything specific the industry was doing. I worked for BR and then Railtrack/Network Rail for thirty five years and I could see no sea change of the nature you claim, muddling through and coping with

88. So Much For Subtlety

79. The Judge

Every nation has the right – through its political structures as appropriate – to control its own natural resources, and to use those resources for the widest possible benefits to their own society first and foremost.

I am not sure this is true. You are asserting the primacy of the state and the nation over individual people. I think there is a strong argument to be made to the contrary. But let’s leave that alone and assume you are right. What then is in the interests of their own society? What would provide the widest possible social benefits to the people of Argentina? Argentina has a lot of hard-to-get shale. They will need foreign technology and massive investments to get it out. But the government does not have any money. Thus these resources will sit there and Argentina will continue to be poor. How is this in the best interests of the Argentinian people?

What is more even if they got it out, we all know it would be eaten up by government corruption and incompetence. Resources are a curse to weak governments. So maybe it is not a bad thing for Argentina that they will not be able to loot this resource as they would like. But it would be nice if you actually considered these factors instead of relying on sound bites.

Indeed, I would say that any government which didn’t do this is betraying the interests of the people of that country. Putting the avarice of ‘foreign investors’ first is one of the things which has led us to where we are today, as the Friedman-Hayek axis has dominated political and economic discourse for more than half my lifetime.

Led us to the position where never in the history of the human race are so many so rich and so many poor people been lifted out of that poverty? The horror. By all means, let us consider the government that failed to consider their national interests a failure. But it is not a question of the interests of the Argentinian people vs the greed of foreign investors. It is a question of the Argentinian government running an entire industry into the sand or of the government co-operating with foreign oil companies to their own mutually beneficial gain. Your simplistic analysis simply refuses to consider the actual facts on the ground.

I’m an atheist, and it’s interesting to note the reaction of the ‘true believers’ in market theory, both here and elsewhere. They’re similar to the responses atheists get from religionists who feel backed into a corner: there is denial; there is the attempt to claim that the other side ‘simply doesn’t understand’

This is simply projection. If there is a type of religious belief here it is from your side, indeed from you. People keep pointing out that the government does not have the money to invest in this industry. They won’t even pay the Spanish for stealing their company. They cannot afford it. But you continue to ignore the actual evidence and insist that nationalisation is some sort of panacea. It is not. For Argentina it does not matter if this industry is in the hands of the state or of the Spanish. It matters if it is developed or not. Now it won’t be. No one will benefit. This keeps being pointed out and you continue to refuse to consider the arguments put before you.

In short, in facing the market dogmatist, one is facing a form of fundamentalist, and one should not expect anything – not evidence, not even human compassion – to change his/her views.

And yet again more projection. If this applies to anyone it does to you, to BenM who also refuses to even consider the possibility a problem with investment might exist and the OP.

TONE @57

“Not ideal, I grant you; but the current system is far superior to BR – more people are travelling by train than ever before, in newer rolling stock on safer lines and with more efficient and timely services and with better catering…”

Evidence that the ‘lines’ are safer ? Actually rail accident figures have been pretty near unchanged for some time now, certainly since before privatisation, this is just the reverse image of the claim that rail travel is now more dangerous post privatisation after the statistical blip caused by Ladbroke Grove, Hatfield and Potter’s Bar. The newer rolling stock has been procured by a slow, uncertain and highly expensive process emanating from the DfT, it is more bureaucratic and state directed than when the railways were nationalised and none of the new trains are a patch on the HST. The more efficient and timely services claim is dubious, it depends where you are talking about, what is your definition of efficient here ? Freight traffic, which you don’t mention has been static at best and the increase in passenger traffic was a result of a booming economy rather than anything specific the industry was doing. I worked for BR and then Railtrack/Network Rail for thirty five years and I could see no sea change of the nature you claim, muddling through was the order of the day throughout. There have been some improvements since privatisation but there was just as much under BR from the early eighties under the freed up management of the period and the sectorisation process. I say all this as someone who supports privatisation and thinks the calls to renationalise are crazy but lets not approach this from the lazy assumption that BR was rubbish, it wasn’t and its engineering side was first class, something that has definitely been lost.

GH @ 80:

‘Not inherently unstable’ is not the same as ‘inherently stable’!

“nature is inherently unstable”

Any system that is “inherently unstable” will soon self-destruct. Sure, in the long run we ae all dead; but nature and capitalism show little sign of self-destructing yet…

RP

Illuminating comparisons between the economies of Argentina and Brazil need to be made over decades, not a few years. We’ll see how well Argentina’s economy flourishes under its adopted regime of leftist populism. In the 1990s, Argentine’s government government made the bad decision to peg the exchange rate of the national currency to the US Dollar in order to kill off its soaring domestic inflation.

That killed off inflation in Argentina but the economy became increasingly uncompetitive at a fixed exchange rate with the US Dollar – in much the way that some Eurozone economies have become increasingly uncompetitive with a locked exchange rate with the Euro as domestic inflation rates diverged from the EZ average.

It’s a profound mistake to see inward investment by multinational companies in developing countries as just exploitative. Multinational companies bring in innovative technologies and introduce new skills, a crucial ingredient for economic development. Ireland’s economy flourished through multinational investment by Dell, Microsoft, Intel etc. Its current woes are due to its membership of the EZ and its under-regulated banking system, not because of inward investment by multinational companies.

Checking back on history, at the beginning of the 20th century Argentina’s per capita GDP was among the top half dozen in the world because of its abundant natural resources. Sadly, by resorting to various authoritarian, oppressive and often corrupt regimes, the economy fell behind.

The really challenging issues are not in haggling over whether Argentina and other South American economies have been held back by neo-liberalism but in analysing why economies in east and south-east asia have so prospered since WW2 as to become fully-fledged affluent countries. There is no simple answer to that because Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore chose very different routes to development and prosperity. The economies of China and India have flourished with increasing liberalisation.

92. Matt Wardman

>So the Argentinian people could still lose out depending on how much they have to give away to tempt China (or whoever else) to stump up the money, when no private producer is going to touch them after this.

And China is going to be sure that it won’t just be confiscated again in a few years next time neo-Kirchner is in an economic and political hole how exactly?

The Judge is bang on the money, one of the best posts I’ve seen here.
I wish I’d written it.

A load of blustering, patronising, arrogant yet ultimately clueless city boys backed into a corner is not a pretty sight.

And when Mr ‘Black=White’ himself (you all know who I mean) has appeared on the scene to denounce Argentina, you know they’ll be doing just fine this time next year :)

Joe: “A load of blustering, patronising, arrogant yet ultimately clueless city boys backed into a corner is not a pretty sight.”

You were glancing in the mirror while you typed up that silly post, weren’t you?

Btw I’m not a “city boy”, just an economist with economic analysis as @90.

‘analysing why economies in east and south-east asia have so prospered since WW2 as to become fully-fledged affluent countries. ‘

not by following neoliberal voodoo economics that’s for sure. Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the most advanced, built up a high-tech domestic manufacturing industry to rival (and overtake?) the established western imperial powers, the last thing to have a chance of happening under the lunacy of neoliberalism. And China, whilst a lot more economically liberalised than it was, can hardly be called ‘neoliberal’.

I wasnt referring to you Bob B – you at least seem to have an independence of opionion – but I still disagree with your analysis.

97. George Hallam

@ 89 “Any system that is “inherently unstable” will soon self-destruct.”

???

Undergo upredictable change, yes. But completely “self-destruct”? Perhaps in the long-run. But till then?

Why not just a continuous series of cycles of growth, crisis and catastrophy?

Like, well.. the business cycle.

Joe: “I wasnt referring to you Bob B – you at least seem to have an independence of opionion – but I still disagree with your analysis.”

Fine, you are entitled to your disagreement but kindly show where the analysis is wrong.

George Hallam: “Like, well.. the business cycle.”

Try JM Keynes in his: General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936):

“In particular, it is an outstanding characteristic of the economic system in which we live that, whilst it is subject to severe fluctuations in respect of output and employment, it is not violently unstable. Indeed it seems capable of remaining in a chronic condition of sub-normal activity for a considerable period without any marked tendency either towards recovery or towards complete collapse.” [p.249]
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/keynes/john_maynard/k44g/chapter18.html

@82
“– isn’t the SNCF better than the British private train companies?”

No it isn’t, this is one of those assumptions I referred to above. SNCF doesn’t have anything like the level of services that British TOCs do or that BR had, this has very little to do with state v private and is more a result of geography and history, Britain always had a more intensive passenger service than most other places. British and French railways are really so different that few meaningful comparisons can be drawn.

100. George Hallam

@89

“Any system that is “inherently unstable” will soon self-destruct….
nature and capitalism show little sign of self-destructing yet…”

Conclusion, they arn’t inherently unstable.

So the rapid and unpredictable change the weather I experience over Easter was an illusion?

Similarly, the global economic crisis that started in the Summer of 2007 is a chimera?

Gad, sir, Parmenides was right. Our senses do deceive us and, hence, our perception of the world does not reflect the world as it really is.

I think Mervin King should be told.

101. George Hallam

@97 “it seems capable of remaining in a chronic condition of sub-normal activity for a considerable period without any marked tendency either towards recovery or towards complete collapse”

Yes, this is just the sort of behaviour described by theory.

102. George Hallam

That should read
“described by Chaos theory”

@98 Thornavis: “British and French railways are really so different that few meaningful comparisons can be drawn.”

Absolutely, The land area of France is about 2 1/4 times that of Britain with about the same population nowadays. France’s population is less urbanised than in Britain and the printed news media less centralised. The railways there were developed later than in Britain and with less of a speculative mania:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_Mania

@ Mary Tracy

In related news… is any of the commenters here a woman?

How is that relevant?

You’re not sexist are you?

105. Charlieman

@79. The Judge: “Putting the avarice of ‘foreign investors’ first is one of the things which has led us to where we are today, as the Friedman-Hayek axis has dominated political and economic discourse for more than half my lifetime.”

So how old are you? I am 49 years of age.

I have not endured 30 years of Friedman-Hayek axis domination. I have endured years of mutual masturbation by right and left wing thinkers, and I have determined that the ideas of Friedman and Hayek deserve respect.

To add further fuel to the inherently unstable sub-discussion, I’m an aeronautical engineer, and slapping forward swept wings on a plane makes it inherently unstable when in flight, which (with materials that can withstand the large increases in shear forces at the wing roots) allows the plane to pull some amazing feats in the air and thus be an unparalleled dog fighter, and improves the lift-drag ratio considerably due to a significantly reduced wake, but is absolutely shite for a bomb platform, which generally requires a steady flight platform.
Which is why you don’t see any modern military plane designs with forward swept wings because air superiority now means ‘blow the enemy’s aircraft up before they take off’.

In short the idea that because something is ‘inherently unstable’ then it automatically means ‘gonna blow up right now’ is simplistic and the folly of the ignorant.

Charlieman: “I have determined that the ideas of Friedman and Hayek deserve respect.”

Try this on Milton Friedman:

Hold on to your hats and prepare to be amazed: Milton Friedman has changed his mind.

“The use of quantity of money as a target has not been a success,” concedes the grand old man of conservative economics. “I’m not sure I would as of today push it as hard as I once did.” Granted, this is hardly a conversion of Damascene significance. But, heck, it’s a start. It also shows that, at the age of 91, Friedman still has his critical faculties intact. The man once described as “the most consequential public intellectual of the post-war era” is still engaged – and engaging.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/937366/posts

On the failing optimal properties of free market capitalism, compare John Cassidy: How Markets Fail (Allen Lane 2009)

As said before, the sensible debate is about what laws and regulations are most conducive to promoting prosperity. Just as highly regulated economies with lots of governmental interventions are apt to flag, under-regulated economies are also apt to fail as we have just seen with the recent financial crisis.

I think we should have a ban on the term “neo-liberal” as a term of abuse, unless the following criteria have been met:

1) The abuser can show that he or she knows what it means.
2) The abuser can show that the intended recipient is a neo-liberal, or has said something consistent with neo-liberalism.
3) The abuser can show that he’s not a complete cock.

109. Chaise Guevara

@ 66 TONE

“That’s a significant concession, though.”

And one that I didn’t make! I said efficiency probably wasn’t better from a consumer perspective, i.e. the one I care about.

“Labour governments have much to fear from the trade unions claiming to represent public sector staff, as they fund the party. And all governments recognise that public sector workers have votes, which is why Gordon Brown tried to buy them.”

Labour doesn’t seem all that bothered about pleasing the unions at the mo, and private sector workers also have votes and outnumber their state-employed brethren.

“That’s partly because of privatisation. Increase nationalisation and unionised sectoral interests will soon hold the nation to ransom.”

Fair point.

“But state monopolies behave in exactly the same way!”

Absolutely not. There isn’t a profit motive. State and private monopolies are very different beasts.

If I own all the trains, I can charge as much as I can squeeze out of you before you defect to National Express. Whereas if the government owns the trains, exploitatively high prices become dangerous if they want to be re-elected. There’s a HUGE difference between “one rich guy owns all the stuff” and “the people own all the stuff”.

“And so they should be when competition is minimal.”

If that happens I’m ok with it, although I think it makes more sense for the state to just run things themselves rather than outsourcing, which appears to just create a middle-man for no reason: handouts to infrastructure companies. But if that’s the structure we’ve got and fixing it isn’t worth the candle, fine. I’m ok with water as it stands. Not trains.

“That said even with minimal competition, in my area, the water quality improved hugely within a year of privatisation – previously, it was brown and unpleasant to taste, though perfectly safe, and we spent a lot on water filters.”

Maybe, but that could be anecdotal and/or coincidental (water in my area isn’t nice).

“Point taken. But I’m not unhappy with that, as I can and do plan ahead. And the service is hugely improved on what BR provided. Perhaps the subsidy needs to be increased. I honestly don’t know enough about the subject to judge.”

In reality so do I. But even that’s a pain in the neck, having to decide the EXACT date and time I’ll be travelling, weeks or months in advance, and hoping events won’t conspire to make my tickets useless. And sometimes people need tickets at a moment’s notice, often during emergencies – and those are the people the companies exploit the most. The word “bastards” is probably apt here.

The biggest problem is that they’ve managed to redefine “normal” as committing yourself far in advance, with all the related risks, if you want an affordable ticket. Hence efficiency being WORSE from the consumer perspective. It shouldn’t cost £150 to travel from Manchester to London at short notice.

“So you would support the introduction of the French healthcare system here?”

Depends on how it plays out. I’m not comfortable with the value of people’s lives being based on their income. But if the existence of private firms doesn’t affect the quality of state services, or if pragmatically everyone would be better off under that system, then obviously idealism needs to take a back seat.

110. Chaise Guevara

@ 108 Jack C

OK, but can we apply the same to “Marxist”, “Stalinist” and so on? Maybe we should just expand Godwin’s law.

‘I think we should have a ban on the term “neo-liberal” as a term of abuse, unless the following criteria have been met:

1) The abuser can show that he or she knows what it means.
2) The abuser can show that the intended recipient is a neo-liberal, or has said something consistent with neo-liberalism.
3) The abuser can show that he’s not a complete cock.’

As someone who very much sees neoliberal as an important, vital and relevant term of abuse whose prevalence must increase, not be proscribed, I’ll have to reply here:

1) Its very simple – a dogmatic attachment to privatisation and deregulation
(i.e. reduction of power of democratic institutions as far as possible and an increase in the power of capital as far as possible, or a transition from one person one vote to one dollar* one vote if you will.)

*Or reserve currency of your choice.

2) I think just reading the posts is easily proof enough of the above.

3) Neoliberalism is the rule of money over and above democracy, with the attendent soaring increase in inequality of income and power, and a weakening of the rights and power of ‘the common man’, and its up to people who are AGAINST that to prove they arent a cock?

And after a hundred posts, not one neoliberal poster has put a coherent persuasive case as to why a democratic sovereign country should not consider taking ownership of its own natural resources, if they see fit to do so, other than sneering, patronising contempt for Argentina’s ability to finance of such a move, and other rather vague grave threats about future foreign investment (and fat lot of good that did Argentina prior to its bailout under a pure neoliberal government a decade ago).

@ BenM

Firstly, let us call the “nationalisation” of YPF what it really is – expropriation, or theft. There is no way Argentina are going to compensate YPF for their loss – they don’t have the cash to do so.

Secondly, you might call it “sneering”, but asking how Argentina will finance nationalising YPF (they won’t, they’re going to steal it), how they are going to manage raising more capital for investment (they will struggle or fail to) or what it will do to future foreign investment (it will kill it stone dead) are perfectly valid questions, which you haven’t answered – dismissing them out of hand hardly counts.

Then let us look at the assumption you make – that somehow nationalising the industry suddenly makes it a benefit for the people when private industry is not. You seem to think private industry is some faceless entity, when in actual fact it is owned by real people. You might not like the distribution of those people and who recieves the benefit, but the assumption that the benefits for the general populace are going to be better distributed in some way.

You also forget that private companies and their employess pay tax to government, so you implicitly have a significant element of government gain for the benefit of the wider population.

The we can look at the problems involved in running nationalised businesses. They are closed entities, so have far greater problems raising capital, as they cannot access equity markets in the same way a private company can. Indeed, as we well know, Argentina can’t even raise debt at the moment. So where is all the money going to come from for the necessary investment in their oil and shale gas fields?

We also know, from experience, that nationalised industries tend to be significantly less efficient than their private secotr counterparts. They tend to end up predominantly run for their own producer interests, rather than that of the consumers, and incidence of corruption tends to be far higher. Nationalised companies are under no real pressure to actually turn a profit, as they cannot go bankrupt and have no shareholders to answer to, so performance almost always tends to underperform private sector peers.

We also have the precedent set. Why would individuals start businesses if they could either be expropriated, or have to compete against government backed business who can change the legal or regulatory framework at any time in an anti-competative manner, and also have access to capital at much cheaper rates. It’s bad for growth, bad for personal freedoms and tantamount to suggesting government should run everything. In the end you end up with bloated nationalised industries being burden to a country rather than the benefit you fancifully hope them to be.

Indeed, we have plenty of examples of this – the UK, Soviet Union and more currently Greece had and have woefull nationalised industries, which were massive financial burdens.

Now tell me, how do you argue that nationalisation is an advantage, especially in the face of so much real world evidence to the contrary there is out there?

114. Luis Enrique

BenM

for crying out loud – it’s not about taking ownership of its natural resources, it’s about taking ownership of the company that digs them up. And of course a democratic sovereign country has every right to do so (well, within the law) the question is whether it’s wise to do so. There’s nothing patronising or contemptuous about questioning Argentina’s ability to finance not just the nationalization but the massive investment needed to exploit new shale gas discoveries. It’s a simple pragmatic question. There’s nothing “vague” about the idea that expropriating assets previously sold to private investors is likely to put off private investors from investing again.

What might be patronizing is to think that the Argentinians haven’t thought about this and don’t have a plan up their sleeves – my guess being Chinese investment. But let’s not pretend governments don’t do daft things, it’s quite possible either Argentina will end up no better off with Chinese involvement (geopolitical motives as acknowledged above offering another possibility) or that they’ll try to finance the investment internally and find themselves struggling.

I don’t agree with the headline, but here’s John Gapper putting forward that view:

“Ms Fernández has her tactics wrong. The best time to squeeze foreign companies is when the hard work of investment and exploration is over and a state-owned oil company can reap the benefits. It is not when your country has deep fiscal problems, no access to international capital markets and a looming investment challenge.”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ecfb241c-889d-11e1-a526-00144feab49a.html#axzz1sIY0sdo0

Of course a sovereign country can take a registered company operating in its territory into public ownership bu that is only part of the relevant narrative in this case.

@112 Ben M
Since YPF is *not* a natural resource but a company whose object is to extract and process and market hydrocarbons I cannot see why anyone should introduce an argument about the rights or wrongs of governments “taking ownership” of their own natural resources since that is totally irrelevant to the question.
Also, you seem to be confused about the meaning of “own” and “ownership” since if the natural resources are the governments own then then they cannot “take ownership” because they already have ownership. If they are taking ownership that implies that they do not previously have it and the resources are not their own.
Not being a neo-liberal, I can say that every government should consider what it wants to do, or allow others to do, with the country’s natural resources. I do not believe that a democratic sovereign country has a mind. But the debate is not about ownership or control of the natural resources, control is exercised by the state through regulation which is one reason why, under Repsol’s ownership, YPF’s production has marginally declined and it only produces 0.8% of world oil production from 0.2% of world oil reserves, a disappointing 4 times the world average. The debate is about President Kirchner expropriating a majority of YPF which a previous government had sold to Repsol.

@ 115 Ben M
It’s NOT public ownership – it’s government control or, to be more precise, control by a handful of individuals chosen by Ms Kirchner to run it whose first move is to lock out all the Spanish technical executives who have been a large part of the team managing operations.
Public ownership was the aim, and very occasionally result, of the Czechoslovak Kupon Privatisation which handed over factories, state farms and shops to the public.
Secondly – No it cannot if that company is domiciled elsewhere. You just try telling Google or Apple, let alone ExxonMobil that it is now owned by Luxembourg! Saudi Arabia could nationalise Aramco because it was a Saudi company, Nigeria could expropriate BP Nigeria but not the whole of BP.
The corruption and incompetence since the latter is an example of what can go wrong with nationalisations, such as leading to massive pollution and even civil war.

@69. Mary Tracy

Firstly, science has nothing to do with the economy. I think you mean maths, and even then that statement is incorrect.

The ‘plundering’ as you put it has nothing to do with foreign countries muscling in. It has everything to do with spinless and mainly corrupt governments allowing people to drill, produce, and otherwise use the land in return for money. It is irrelevant in a 3rd world country whether there is a left or right leader, as there is no government. The entire concept of left and right doesn’t exist as it is usually, all powerful dictator, and the rest.

The country is broke, and you seem to think it is impossible that as a result the UK is broke…HUH!?!…the UK is broke! We carry more debt than almost any other developed country. We have a yearly budget deficit of 150bn. Whats not broke? The only thing that has stopped down grades and soaring debt costs is the austerity package. Otherwise we are up s**t creek, because our debt is worse than Spain’s.

Argentina is not doing much better. See below as to why.

@77. Sunny Hundal

I see you like to respond to me, I feel honoured. I must get your goat most of the time. Great!

Its good you point out the US, because the US has not actually embraced the free market for nearly a century. In any event the US govt. (not the people) have treated South America like its back yard. Without the help of the US govt. many of these companies would not be in South America.

Your constant classification of things into left and right is infantile. It is like gang colours, waste of time.

“How about looking at how the left-wing candidate has done in the last 5 years versus how the right-wingers did before that?”

Funny you should mention that because the country with the most stable economy is in fact Chile. South America has an awful history with inflation and as a result the government imposes very high interest rates, which means that investment HAS to come from foreign sources because borrowing is too expensive in South America. That is the governments fault, not the peoples and it has opened the door to foreign companies who can borrow for decent rates in other countries. Chile on the other hand introduced free market policies and as a result they have low interest rates and the threat of inflation is very low. Lots of investment is now being derived from Chile itself and whilst growth is not as fast as other countries in South America, it is some of the most risk free and sustainable. Argentina in comparison is a hole. Any nutter who lust after the system in Argentina needs their head read. The slightest liberalisations in markets has improved the lot of the citizen hugely. Look at the slight movement in China and Vietnam (they obviously have a long way to come), consider the impact a free market would have on Cuba’s tourism. You lust after a system that is impoverishing people.

“Let’s face it – across the world the right has been discredited on economics.”

Sunny, seriously? where are you living? firstly, there are so many denominations of ‘right’ that it becomes a pointless statement, and is really just another example of that ‘gang colour’ politics you seem to love so much. The system I propose is one of a freemarket democracy. Where government is there only to provide a framework in which we can live. A rule of law, police force, defence force, small state department, and a means tested health system 10% the size of the NHS now. In any event who was in power for 13 years before we hit the s**t? who’s done the most damage in Greece? (Panhellenic Socialist Movement), who was in power in Spain? (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), and Portugal? (Partido Socialista), pattern emerging here? All of them spent and borrowed too much to feed their little government fiefdoms.

Don’t get me wrong though. I don’t like Dave or George. I don’t think they are cutting nearly enough, or fast enough, or doing enough to stimulate the supply side recovery that will be the only way we will get out of this mess. They are doing precisely what the previous government did, which is fumble about and f**k things up.

If the free market is such an awful system then why does Hong Kong do so well with it? (and before any screams are heard, (1) Hong Kong’s government was not Chinese, it was British and set up by John Cowperthwaite, it is very pro free market. It remains the same govt. under the Sino-British declaration to about 2047. (2) There is poverty in Hong Kong, almost all of which has started since 1997, the Sino-British declaration did not extend to immigration from mainland China, unfortunately). All the while they enjoy rising real world GDP, super low tax rates, and an unemployment rate of 3%.

Keep wearing those colours Sunny. They have always helped in making real change….-_-

Yes Freeman, because the experiences of one single city state can obviously be taken and rigidly applied across the whole globe in a manner that makes logical sense.

Ownership of resources \ ownership of the means of extracting those resources.

The Argentinians are quite right to pursue whichever solution they see fit and leave the neo liberals screaming from the sidelines if necessary.

@ 119. Joe

The principles can be applied, and who said they had to be applied rigidly? Obviously there will be individual circumstances that will require adjustments, but the whole concept of the role of government is different and that is the key issue. The vast majority of the problems of the state are at their root self inflicted. With every devolution of freedom and individuality from people to the state we move one step closer to totalitarianism and oppression. It has not only been HK. America through the late 19th, early 20th century had its fastest development and period of greatest prosperity.

A free market is not about supporting above all else big business and massive enterprise, that it abhorrent, it is the role of entrenched political interests in big business. That system rewards the connection between the state and business, a connection that should not exist and enable companies to become abusive. It is about enforcing fundamental rights. The right not to be persecuted, the right not to be taxed without representation, the right not to be subject to arbitrary state rule that neither helps society nor serves a purpose. The right to take account of your own responsibility and stop having others stupidity thrust upon you through regulation and taxation.

The western governments have fooled their population into believing they have to be these giant, inefficient bureaucracies. There is nothing wrong with small government, that uses its resources efficiently and for once (because they don’t have the vested interests and power that comes with big state) they may actually attract those who actually give a s**t about citizens and rights that should be extended to them as humans.

122. Luis Enrique

The Argentinians are quite right to pursue whichever solution they see fit and leave the neo liberals screaming from the sidelines if necessary.

so whatever the democratically elected Argentinian government does is beyond criticism? Does this apply to other democratically elected governments, like ours for instance? Let’s try it out for size: “the UK government is quite right to pursue whatever solutions it sees fit”. OK, if you say so!

What a silly thing to write.

Yo, Very Vocal Males… if “nationalisation” is “theft”, then why isn’t privatisation theft as well? Doesn’t the NHS belong to the British people? Why is it that its privatisation cannot be considered “robbing” the British of a national resource?

Argentina is not broke. I was there last week, and the estate has enough dough to subsidise buses and chiken, amongst other things, so that people can travel and eat. Which is far more than one can say for the British State…

As for economy having nothing to do with science… well, I can see where our disagreements come from. Perhaps it has more to do with alchemy? That’s what the Right seems to think: the more you squeeze the poor, the more gold will come out of them…. or something.

And IF the economy really has nothing to do with science… then that’s fine by me, so long as everyone acknowledges that the resources of the world are being handled by people who make no use of rationality or factual evidence.

In unrelated news… I’m growing very fond of Tarot.

@120. BenM

Ben the Argentinian government already ‘owns’ the minerals in the ground. All governments own the ground that the country has. All people and companies have is ‘rights’ over that land, licences for lack of a better term.

What is being discussed here is not the appropriation of mineral rights or title to the mineral in the ground. What we are talking about here is the appropriation of a company. A company that doesn’t belong to the Argentinian’s and a company that (if you have a pension) you are probably invested in. It is a company that has from the Argentinian government a ‘right’ to extract minerals for which they pay the government a licence fee.

So what we are actually talking about here is not the right to ones minerals in the ground, but rather the theft of a company using the power of the government. It is the same action that the soviets and Mao took. It will hammer investment, because who would invest in a country that may steal what you invest?

Yo, Very Vocal Males… if “nationalisation” is “theft”, then why isn’t privatisation theft as well?

Um… because taking something from somebody isn’t the same thing as buying it from them?

Argentina is not broke. I was there last week, and the estate has enough dough to subsidise buses and chiken

Oh well then, $25bn or so to develop shale gas should be a doddle.

As for economy having nothing to do with science

I think it might just be your interpretation of it…

“because taking something from somebody isn’t the same thing as buying it from them”

lol! Exactly. Argentina is going to buy the 51% of YPF shares owned by Repsol.

Same thing, really…

127. Luis Enrique

126 – well that rather depends on the price doesn’t it?

@126. Mary Tracy

“lol! Exactly. Argentina is going to buy the 51% of YPF shares owned by Repsol.”

Eh?!?! no they are not….”Argentina’s Deputy Economy Minister Axel Kicillof rejected Repsol’s compensation demand for its YPF unit and said the government will rely on “solid data” to value its takeover of 51 percent of its shares.”

That’s like you wanting to buy a house, telling the seller what the price is going to be and then forcing him to sell at that price. When you buy something, the seller is supposed to have the prerogative as to whether it is for sale in the first place! Repsol does not have that option here, therefore the claims that this is theft are completely justified.

TimJ

‘Um… because taking something from somebody isn’t the same thing as buying it from them?’

What, even if the people who sold it werent the same poeple who paid for it in the first place, and they sold it for an unfairly low price?

“The report is all about Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his reaction to Argentina’s nationalization of YPF, that plays against Spain’s Repsol. This week he said:

“It’s unjustifiable…it greatly affects the international reputation of Argentina.”

But here’s the fun bit. Back in 2008 when Repsol was in line to be bought by Russia’s Lukoil, here’s what Mariano Rajoy said then:

“Our petroleum, our gas and our energy cannot be put into the hands of a Russian company because it would convert us into a 5th division country.”

END QUOTE

http://www.incakolanews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/ypf-joy-of-rajoy.html

can always rely on Inca Kola News for some levelheaded (and fun!) commentary on Latin America

The fact is, no country has ever properly developed under the strict (and insane*) regimen of neoliberalism. From the US empire to the British empire, from Japan to the Soviet Union, they have all developed under protectionism, imperialism and directed endogenous industry.

*I say insane but in its actual aim (usually unstated for obvious reasons), of insatiably sucking all wealth up, up and up in an ever increasing vertiginous spiral, its extraordinarily effective, which is why despite being a very bad thing it is unsuprisingly quite popular amongst the sociopathic, idle, filthy rich and their myriad attendants and mouthpieces. That is, until noone else can buy anything any more.

133. Always Integrity

Repsol did not invest ‘to the hilt’ becuse the Argentinian Government insisted that it sell oil at below cost to the Argentinians.

There’s a surprise then!

@132. Joe

Hows the air with your head stuck in the sand. It is almost as if the more you tell yourself that free market policies won’t work the more you will believe it. Ever read Orwell’s 1984 Joe? you should!

two and two equals five…yes it does Joe…because we say it does.

The libralisation of trade is what has given you the society you live in. The ipod you have, the computer, the t.v.’s, etc, etc, etc. Each person pursuing their seperate interest for the benefit of society. Unfortunately for a great deal of the ultra left, they are still banging the “hand all money to the polititians” drum. Where are we going to find these angels to run the government Joe? Where are these all knowing, jealousy free, envy free angels who hate power? Find me some of those and I might just agree with your ideas. Until then, move to North Korea. Hear its great there.

135. Churm Rincewind

@ Mary Tracy throughout:

The Argentinian President has not nationalised YPF. She has seized control of Repsol’s stake, while leaving her late husband’s cronies in place.

She has no intention of paying Repsol a fair price. Otherwise she could have just bought their shares in the marketplace, couldn’t she?

Really, it is up to the people whether they would like their utililities nationalised or privatised, 99%…… I suspect they would prefer nationalisation. Privatisation has brought us ever higher bills, and the water, which we never noticed used to be part of the rates,is now a seperate bill. To save money, we’re supposed to go through the inconvenience of constantly changing suppliers. This is effiiency!

Tim J @ 128

126 – well that rather depends on the price doesn’t it?

Does it? How? Repsol knowlingly bought a newly privatised South American interest. That privatisation occurred because the prevailing political philosophy in Argentina at the time. They must have (or damn well should have) known that that the political philosophy of that Country could and (given the history of South America) would change sooner or later. They took a gamble on Right Wing politicians remaining dominant and they lost. Boo hoo, losing is what happens every day in a free market.

It turns out that buying newly privatised businesses in volatile Countries carries high risks. Who would have thunk it? I make room for the possibility that other potential bidders would have had a look at the risks and walked away.

Given the political landscape of the Country, Repsol bought a worthless business at a highly inflated price and the people of Argentina have demanded that their property, sold by a third Party, be returned to them. You can argue the legal niceties and political ramifications all you want, but if Repsol get a single penny piece, it will be the all too familiar tale of privatising the profit and nationalising the loss.

If they are not happy with the deal, they are at liberty to sell their remaining share to whoever they can find to buy those shares at the ‘true’ market price (i.e. fuck all) and leave the Country.

I see that Carlos Menem, who as President privatised YPF, now says “I’ll vote for nationalisation” ( http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1466698-menem-votare-por-la-estatizacion-de-ypf ): “We’re living in a completely different era. Times change,” he comments.

139. Churm Rincewind

@ Jim 137 – No, that’s not what happened at all. At the time of privatisation, the Argentinian Government wanted foreign investment in order further to exploit its oil reserves. So it sold a big chunk of of YPF to Repsol for a stonking amout of cash. But Nestor Kircher, the President of Argentina at the time and late husband of the current President, also wanted his chums/associates/cronies, the Eskenazi family, to benefit from the privatisation, so Repsol was “persuaded” to lend the Eskenazi family the money for a 25% shareholding on the understanding that YPF would pay sufficient dividends to support the loan. Under the direction of the Kirchers, most of YPF’s profits were subsequently directed to the shareholders, including Repsol, rather than being being ploughed back into the company, because the Eskenazis needed the money to repay the loan.

Note that Argentina has seized Repsol’s shareholding, but not the 25% held by the Eskenazis. This has all to do with cronyism, and nothing at all to do with “the people of Argentina”.

@83 RP
“isn’t the SNCF better than the British private train companies? Is EDF any worse than any other electricity supplier? Is Orange worse than Vodafone? Even in purely UK terms, is the BBC worse than ITV?”
Totally specious to compare SNCF with the privatised UK train companies – the relevant comparison is between the latter and British Fail which makes the privatised companies look good (they aren’t good just less bad): the improvement in my local service since privatisation has been remarkable. SNCF has had billions chucked at it and less has been wasted than at BR by restrictive practices. I don’t use EDF but reports are that it *is* worse. My son’s experience with T-mobile is worse than mine with Vodafone. I rarely watch TV so I am not in a position to judge the relative quality of the whole array of programmes but I do observe that the BBC spend hundreds of millions in a frequently wasteful manner, e.g. paying a multi-million pound salary to someone who failed to get a job in the private sector.
“You are not sure that is right”. Can you quote a valid counter-example?

Churn @ 137

So it sold a big chunk of of YPF to Repsol for a stonking amout of cash

And Reposl handed that money over in order to ‘help’ Argentina, did it? No, the invested a stonking amount of money because they believed they would reap a stonking big profit. There is nothing wrong with that, BTW, but they got badly burned when the politics of the Country changed.

Why did people drum out the last lot and replace them with a Leftist Government? There is a message here for big business. Be carefull what you buy and who you buy it from, goes without saying, but perhaps another question to ponder is ‘does Capitalism have a stake in stable societies?’.

@Churn 139,

Not so. Privatisation was already complete before Nestor Kirchner came to power. Carlos Menem privatised YPF.

I’m amazed at the number of people who are “Argentina experts”.

How many of you have actually, you know, lived there?

Jim: And Reposl handed that money over in order to ‘help’ Argentina, did it? No, the invested a stonking amount of money because they believed they would reap a stonking big profit. There is nothing wrong with that, BTW, but they got badly burned when the politics of the Country changed.

And now Argentina has set the baseline that you can invest in Argentina but the politics of the country may change and then you simply lose your investment. In short, there’s no rule of law and you cannot trust the country.

How exactly does this help them to find someone willing to invest in the development of their resources?

Of course they may end up talking to China. So you are cheering for a process where a European company (and your pension fund) loses money, and the Chinese make a deal about a Special Economic Zone – or whatever – in Argentina where the usual (perhaps not so great, but anyway) rule of Argentinian law does not apply. Like China “develops” the resources of some places in Africa.

How marvelously progressive.

@143. Mary Tracy

It has nothing to do with being an Agentina expert. You do not have to have lived there or visited in order to have an opinion. Would you only want to be treated by a doctor for cancer if he himself had had cancer? Exactly.

What does strike me as amazing though is the lack of thought that has gone into your statements. You didn’t actually research the situation before you wrote that article did you?

(1) Nationalisation of companies will stop foreign investment. Who wants to invest in a country when there is the risk of having their money taken away? What is the result? Argentina will be worse off in the long run, not better.

(2) Why do you think all the investment in Argentina is foreign? see if you had researched what you said you would have realised that Argentina has suffered from massive inflation. To the point where basic goods become unaffordable. So what do they do? they put interest rates up very high to stop the volitile money moving. It therefore becomes too expensive to borrow in Argentina, so the money has to come from foreign sources. That is the fault of the government, not the companies or people. Chile successfully tackled the problem by liberalising their market and monetary policy.

(3) Repsol do have to be paid, and as the seller, they are allowed to set the price at whatever they wish. Just as if you sold your property you would have the right to sell the property for whatever you wanted for it. It is not for the buyer to force you to sell if you don’t want. That completely errodes the right to private property and is one step from the awful, digusing world of communism.

(4) This issue in Argentina, lets face reality, has nothing to do with developing resources. Repsol is able to develop the fields far better, and de Kirchner knows that. This has everything to do with de Kirchner wanting to stick two fingers up at the rest of the world and win political wrangling points for her silly, childish sentiment of nationalism.

PJT @ 144

And now Argentina has set the baseline that you can invest in Argentina but the politics of the country may change and then you simply lose your investment. .

No, that is true of every Country in the World. The politics of any Country can change at any time and any company (or individual) in that Country can simply lose out.

The same thing could happen here at any time. We could ban abortion or gambling and abortion clinics and bookies would lose everything. We could ban air rifles, for example and owners could lose their weapons. We have banned lock knives and the owners of such tools have lost out. In fact, lots of people have lost out due to government legislation. I come to that in my next point.

In short, there’s no rule of law and you cannot trust the country.

Oh, there is a rule of law all right; I have not read anything to suggest that the Argentinean government have broken the Country’s laws. It just the great unwritten law that the people who own capital, own the law that has been broken.

If the Right are now saying that current governments should be compelled to honour the laws and actions of previous governments in all circumstances, then fine, let us agree on that.

However, I cannot recall the Tories complaining when Norman Fowler ripped up legislation that protected dockers and forcing them to accept paltry sums of money in compensation. Or GCHQ employees having their terms and conditions changed regarding union membership, either.

In fact, there are millions of public service employees who have had their pensions retrospectively cut, despite having agreements with previous governments.

So, we can rely on the Right’s support to have all this re-instated can we?
No, thought not, because the vermin bray like stuck pigs when the rich are potentially getting shafted, but when normal decent human beings are having their livelihood cut or destroyed by capricious, Right governments, that is fine.

Does it? How?

Because if you take something worth £1,000 off someone and pay them £1 for it then you’re not really buying it are you? You’re just taking it.

Repsol knowlingly bought a newly privatised South American interest. That privatisation occurred because the prevailing political philosophy in Argentina at the time. They must have (or damn well should have) known that that the political philosophy of that Country could and (given the history of South America) would change sooner or later. They took a gamble on Right Wing politicians remaining dominant and they lost. Boo hoo, losing is what happens every day in a free market.

Absolutely right. Political risk is one of the things all firms will take into account when making overseas investments. I haven’t argued that Argentina aren’t entitled to nationalise YPF (provided that they pay a reasonable price for it – straight expropriation would be flat out illegal under all sorts of international treaties that Argentina have signed up to). What I’ve argued is that, on the face of it, it’s a dumb thing to do. Argentina are complaining, in effect, that they aren’t getting enough overseas investment for their oil and gas sector. And to remedy that they are going to nationalise a company owned by an overseas company. What effect do you think that will have on companies thinking about investing in Argentina’s energy sector?

Of course, the real reason they are doing it is to get stirringly patriotic headlines (to go with their Malvinas ones) and a short-term cash boost to try and cover some of their deficit spending. They aren’t terrific reasons either.

Oh, there is a rule of law all right; I have not read anything to suggest that the Argentinean government have broken the Country’s laws.

And that depends, as I said earlier, on the price they propose to pay Repsol. If it’s a fair market valuation then they are acting legally, albeit stupidly. If it’s significantly less, then they’ll be in breach of all sorts of international treaties. That will probably still hold true if they do the valuation from after the announcement of intended nationalisation (which will, obviously, have slashed the value of the company).

I’m amazed at the number of people who are “Argentina experts”.

How many of you have actually, you know, lived there?

It’s all right. I’ve borrowed some magic ovaries that make me qualified to comment on everything.

I’ve been following the posts here with interest.

What I can’t understand is why the coalition government in Britain is paying out money in grants to the likes of Nissan as an incentive to invest in new manufacturing capacity in Sunderland to produce a new hatchback car there, and to Tata Motors, which now owns the Jaguar Land Rover brand, for the company’s plant in Merseyside.

I assume Labour will be making a manifesto commitment to seize control of the assets of these inward investing companies to bring to an end the exploitation.

As my Dad says… if foreign investors want to go… they can go. Off you go, all foreign investors! We wish you well…

150 – which rather sums up most of the economics on this thread

@150. Mary Tracy

What staggering arrogance. This will not harm the foreign investors. The world ultimately could not give a flying hoot whether they can access Argentinian gas and oil, sure it will be a slight inconvenience but not harmful. They will just get it from elsewhere, but this is not the issue I am concerned with. This will harm the Argentinian’s. When they are unable to make good use of their resources, when they are owned and abused by China who will simply take the oil and resources (just as they are doing in Africa), when they are thrown into nationalist isolation.

A typical case of shoot, ask questions later. Should I really expect differently from someone who believes government should take away our freedom? not really.

“As my Dad says… if foreign investors want to go… they can go. Off you go, all foreign investors! We wish you well…”

Isn’t it absolutely outrageous that not only are those internationally respected Jaguar Land Rover brands are now owned by Tata, an Indian multinational company, but Tata is now the largest manufacturing company operating in Britain having overtaken BAe Systems, the well-known British armaments manufacturers?

@ 150 Mary Tracy
Foreign investment has been the principal means of spreading technological advances to the benefit of the receiving nation for over 3,000 years. But Christine Kirchner and you know so much better that you can thumb your noses at it?
Don’t misquote Russia at me, millions *more* Russians would have starved to death if ICI hadn’t manufactured fertiliser plans for them.

Tim J @ 147

straight expropriation would be flat out illegal under all sorts of international treaties that Argentina have signed up to

These ‘International treaties’ that you speak of, is that just a euphemism for ‘pointless red tape’ or unwelcome interference into a sovereign Nation’s internal affairs? Normally the Right’s response to such unwarranted interference is that such treaties be ripped up and/or ignored. See passim regarding CO2 emissions, land fill and of course, the ECHR. Not a single day passes without someone or other from the Right demanding that some or all of the ECHR be scrapped or amended.

Given that the Right (a la Frazer Nelson on Friday’s ‘any questions’) applauds if the Italians for flouting the ECHR when deporting alleged terrorists, or America refusal to sign up for Kyoto and France’s general contrmpt for EU laws, then the logical extension would be to applaud the Government of Argentina potential contempt for treaties that affect this particular transaction?

What business of ours (or anyone else’s) is it if Argentina, Brazil or Canada or whoever decide to Nationalise an industry on their own soil?

I would suggest that any company’s value is subject to the fact that governments (and treaties) protect that company’s right to trade and their assets. If YPF have lost (rightly or wrongly) that tacit protection to trade freely then the shares Pepsol own are effectively worth zero. Same with any other business.

If an abortion clinic was worth £4 million on Friday and the Government bring in laws to ban all abortion effective Monday that clinic is worth fuck all.

These ‘International treaties’ that you speak of, is that just a euphemism for ‘pointless red tape’ or unwelcome interference into a sovereign Nation’s internal affairs?

Sigh. They’d be bilateral investment protection treaties between Argentina and Spain. And yes, if they wanted to Argentina could unilaterally renege on them and refuse to recognise court rulings (let’s face it, it wouldn’t be the first time). But that would have a disastrous impact on companies willing to invest in Argentina.

Given that the Right (a la Frazer Nelson on Friday’s ‘any questions’) applauds if the Italians for flouting the ECHR when deporting alleged terrorists, or America refusal to sign up for Kyoto and France’s general contrmpt for EU laws, then the logical extension would be to applaud the Government of Argentina potential contempt for treaties that affect this particular transaction?

It doesn’t matter whether I, or Fraser or anybody on the right, ‘applauds’ or ‘decries’ it. What matters is the impact it would have on Argentina’s economy. And if you can’t predict what impact ignoring treaties to which you are a signatory (with, incidentally, what is considered Argentina’s closest European partner) in order to expropriate foreign-owned assets would have on inward investment then I can only hope you’re being deliberately blind.

If YPF have lost (rightly or wrongly) that tacit protection to trade freely then the shares Pepsol own are effectively worth zero. Same with any other business.

Much as I personally admire your grasp of the legal and commercial ramifications of international expropriation, that’s not how it works. Try my old boss on the subject:
http://www.allenovery.com/AOWEB/AreasOfExpertise/Editorial.aspx?contentTypeID=1&itemID=50687&prefLangID=410

Argentina’s decision has had considerable support within Argentina and across Latin America.

The Permanent Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Political Parties (COPPAL) was supportive, especially the Chilean Socialist Party, and in Argentina, both the Radical Civic Union and the Socialist Party (Labour’s two sister-parties in Argentina) – important opposition parties – gave support (albeit with reservations) to the government’s renationalisation policy.

What a disappointing contrast in the EU, where the European Parliament has overwhelmingly condemned Argentina’s move.

158. Churm Rincewind

@RP 142: You are absolutely right. I wrote in haste.

YPF was originally privatised under the Presidency of Carlos Menem, though with the enthusiastic support of Nestor Kirchner and his wife, the current President. It was only later in 2007/2008, under Kirchner’s presidency, that his close associates the Eskenazi family acquired their 25% stake. One of the requirements of that deal, brokered by Kirchner, was that Repsol was required to buy the Eskenazi’s holding if (inter alia) YPF ever lowered its dividend to less than 90% of annual profits. These dividends allowed Kirchner’s business associates to acquire their stake without having to stump up all the cash.

It was this dividend policy, engineered by Kirchner, which resulted in a massive outflow of profits overseas, rather than any particular rapacity on Repsol’s part.

In theory, assuming that YPF will now discontinue its previous dividend policy, the seizure of Repsol’s stake will trigger the clauses that require Repsol to buy back the Eskenazi’s stake at the original price. In any case presumably the Eskenazis will now face difficulties in paying off their loan.

It will be interesting to see how Cristina Fernandez deals with this conundrum. Who’d be an oligarch, eh?

159. Chaise Guevara

@ 148 Tim J

“It’s all right. I’ve borrowed some magic ovaries that make me qualified to comment on everything.”

Hah! I’m stealing this line.

159 – all yours! For another viewpoint on this, try the WSJ today

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303592404577359432441570286.html?mod=opinion_newsreel

This article comes with two X chromosomes for your reading pleasure.

@146:Oh, there is a rule of law all right; I have not read anything to suggest that the Argentinean government have broken the Country’s laws.

You are trule making a mockery about what rule of law means. Sure, you can always say “I’m the law, there’s the rule of law”. Don’t you realise what you say, or are you just trolling?

Even changes to law through fair parliamentary processes do not always mean that rule of law is achieved. Laws can be contradicting; every law has come to force lawfully but still the application of law is arbitrary and unpreditable. What is more, you should realise that RULE OF LAW IS IMPORTANT FOR A PROGRESSIVE SOCIETY.

Of course, this is pretty academic for most of us in Europe. We lose a bit of our pensions and so on, but that’s it. The actual suffering will be by Argentinians, as they submit to oligarchy and are lead by cronies of an increasingly dictatorial leadership. It will be interesting to see when the tide will turn and the European left will realise that Kirchner is some evil right-wing authoritarian nationalist neo-con capitalist…


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  2. Juli

    'Viva #Argentina! Why it’s right to nationalise companies for its interests' | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Wox3GcMX #repsol #Spain

  3. BevR

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  4. Robert Gant

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  5. James W Underwood

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  6. Lambeth NUT

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  7. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Viva Argentina! Why it’s right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/xTYAZqgp

  8. Welsh Ramblings

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  9. meme

    Viva Argentina! Why it’s right to nationalise companies for its interests | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/yJgN9XL3 via @libcon

  10. Paul W

    RT @libcon: Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests
    http://t.co/mms5LMuA

  11. Stephen Reid

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  12. Thomas McKenzie

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  13. Ieuan Rees

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  14. Jason Brickley

    Viva Argentina! Why it’s right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/fByeaxcs

  15. Rob Marchant

    Have just been described as "vile blairite traitor Rob Marchant" at the Flat Earth Times. And my best to you, comrade. http://t.co/iH3HwTgJ

  16. Alex White

    Have just been described as "vile blairite traitor Rob Marchant" at the Flat Earth Times. And my best to you, comrade. http://t.co/iH3HwTgJ

  17. Robert CP

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  18. Rob Marchant

    @drivasperez yes, yes, "Worse than tories, and therefore two layers below vermin." in the article itself. Which is mad. http://t.co/iH3HwTgJ

  19. Marie-Louise Irvine

    “@libcon: Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/Is0IAfj9”This is so heartening!

  20. Michael Moore

    Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/0nNoqiow

  21. Daniel Rivas Perez

    Anyway, this liberal conspiracy post on it is breathless and excitable but a bit dim. http://t.co/XrWchem3

  22. John O'Dwyer

    RT @MaryTracy On Argentina's nationalisation of its oil company. http://t.co/4QV1xunJ

  23. christine clifford

    “@libcon: Viva Argentina! Why it's right to nationalise companies for its interests http://t.co/Is0IAfj9”This is so heartening!

  24. Mary Tracy

    RT @MaryTracy On Argentina's nationalisation of its oil company. http://t.co/4QV1xunJ

  25. Daniel Rivas Perez

    @bokkiedog @robcmorgan True. I am referring to things like this recent nonsense: http://t.co/XrWchem3





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