Argentina is doubling down in its war against math. The WSJ reports that political activists loyal to President Kirchner are publicly targeting retailers by putting posters of the executives up all over Buenos Aires. The posters accuse the leaders of Walmart and other companies of fueling the country’s ruinous inflation by raising prices, even as the government continues to devalue the official currency and ignore traditional IMF economic policy. More:
Argentina clocked an inflation rate close to 30% in 2013, the second-highest in Latin America, and many economists now predict it could reach 40% this year. They blame the government’s printing of money to fund ever-expanding government programs, coupled with expensive subsidies that keep energy and transportation prices cheap.
On Friday, though, Mrs. Kirchner’s cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, slammed economists and other analysts for blaming the government’s economic policies for rising inflation…”I know all of them,” Mr. Capitanich said. “They are all undercover agents. Argentines should know that independent, objective economists do not exist. I want to say emphatically that when unscrupulous businessmen raise prices, it has absolutely nothing to do with macroeconomic variables.”
Of course! Obviously greedy businessmen are the cause of the country’s inflation, which furthermore is an invention of ‘enemy agents’ cleverly disguised as economists.
In reality, Argentina and Venezuela should, based on their natural resource endowments, be among the most prosperous countries in the world. Toxic political cultures are making these countries poorer every day, and as their economies deteriorate their authoritarian populist leaders turn to ever more ugly and less effective policies. Capitalists around the world should thank heaven for both countries. By demonstrating the costs of economic quackery, Argentina and Venezuela do more for the cause of global capitalism than the Koch brothers could ever dream of. Who knew that President Kirchner would be so effective at making the world a safer place for Scrooge McDuck and friends?