Most of the Camporistas cut their political teeth in radical university politics in the early 2000s as the country in 2001 defaulted on some $100 billion in sovereign debt and fell into chaos. Now they offer a blend of Marxism, Fascism, and utopian policies that has led to Argentina’s free fall rather than its rebirth. The group, with Máximo’s support and the president’s ear, has taken over many of the most important government revenue sources, including the national airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, which, since being re-nationalized, loses $2 million a day and operates with virtually no accountability or oversight, according to airline audits and investigative reports.Nahón’s mentor and co-author of many academic publications, Axel Kicillof, was the CFO of the airline as it imploded, and is the architect of the 2012 expropriation of the Spanish oil company YPF, whose oil production has dropped sharply since the takeover. Kicillof, now deputy minister of economy, and Nahón also helped engineer the “nationalization” of billions of dollars in private pension funds, now also under control of Camporistas.
If Farah is right that the economic fate of ordinary people in Argentina is largely in the hands of a few radical thirty-somethings nostalgic for Perón, it would go a long way toward explaining the country’s current state of affairs. Argentina is now well into the capital shortage phase of its latest, repetitive cycle of failure. The government has stolen all the money that wasn’t nailed down, and neither foreigners nor rich Argentines will voluntarily lend it any more.The temporary answer is to go bottom fishing in world capital markets: to welcome dirty drug and arms money into the country in an era when bank secrecy in more respectable places is beginning to erode. This is what the Kirchner government is doing with its recent passage of a tax amnesty that would allow drug dealers and terrorists to put their money in Argentina without the usual formalities and queries. But we wouldn’t advise any international drug lords to trust Argentine politicians; precisely because their money is illegitimate, it will be easy for the authorities to confiscate the money through some clever trick.This is the kind of desperate decision one might expect from a Peronist youth group that finds itself at the helm of a failing state; it’s unlikely to end better than any of the other gimmicks and dodges tried at similar stages of the Argentine failure process over the decades.A country with as many natural resources as Argentina has no excuse for the kind of chronic failure that has beset it ever since Juan Perón first took power. But seventy years of unbroken failure and more than a century of economic decline has yet to convince enough Argentines that less exciting but more practical growth strategies just might work better.[Photo of Cristina Kirchner with son, Máximo, courtesy of Wikimedia]