Wednesday, June 13th 2012 - 08:21 UTC

Argentine dollar restrictions intensify malaise in real estate and the wider economy

On June 7 the Argentine government presented a bill to require debt and new contracts are denominated in pesos, while the government is mulling the de-dollarisation of real estate contracts. This would make real estate purchases even more difficult than they currently are in a country with ever-tightening capital controls.

An additional problem for the real estate market is the underdeveloped mortgage market

The increasingly extreme measures from the administration of President Cristina Fernandez are attempts to stop the depletion of foreign currency reserves and the deterioration of the current account balance, which continue despite increasingly stringent measures.

The restrictions on real estate purchases in dollars will cause further damage to economic growth, given that construction represents around 15% of Argentine GDP, and the majority of purchases are currently transacted in dollars. The market is already experiencing difficulty: since October 2011, authorisation from the tax agency AFIP is needed to convert pesos to dollars, and such authorisation is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Few sellers are willing to accept pesos given inherent mistrust of the currency. While the restrictions on peso-dollar conversions are encouraging more to do so, peso prices are often calculated at the high black market exchange rate of around ARS5.90/US$ (the official exchange rate stands at US$4.49/US$), which deters buyers.

An additional problem for the real estate market is the underdeveloped mortgage market. Given Argentina’s high inflation, annual interest rates on mortgages is often over 20% - another deterrent to potential homebuyers.

The Cristina Fernandez administration repeatedly uses nationalist rhetoric to justify the increasingly intrusive measures to control capital outflows, which has worked relatively well in maintaining popularity.

However there are signs that this is beginning to wane as governmental controls and import restrictions become harsher. While approval has not yet dropped to the levels of 2008, when it plummeted from 57.8% to 23%, it fell 12 percentage points in eight months to 41.2%, on June 10 2012, according to polling agency Management and Fit. It is likely to fall further as households and businesses alike are detrimentally affected by unorthodox government policy.

There are still very few signs the government will address the causes of Argentina’s intensifying economic malaise and the resulting inflation, such as high, unsustainable fiscal expenditure and endemic corruption.

Instead, the government is likely to use the quick fixes of capital controls and fabricated statistics to prolong the status quo and maintain the value of the peso, although these are looking increasingly ineffectual. Dollar reserves are at their lowest levels since April 2010, and weak external demand will impact further on the current account balance through 2012. A drastic change in the government’s economic trajectory may soon become inevitable.

By Cosima Cassel

19 comments Feed

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1 British_Kirchnerist (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 10:44 am Report abuse
I think the best answer to this story is another of today's stories, where Cristina is announcing a massive home building programme =)
2 yankeeboy (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 12:12 pm Report abuse
This year's Tax Revenue:
Car Export...Brazil Recession
Construction...U$ restriction
Consumer Vat.... Import Restriction

Don't they know there is nothing left to destroy?
3 Welsh Wizard (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 02:20 pm Report abuse
Tuesday 12 June...
“In the blue-chip swap market, which sets the implied exchange rate used to buy Argentine assets traded abroad, the peso traded at 6.50 per dollar on Tuesday, traders said. That marks a 45 percent spread above the formal price.”
4 JohnCFI (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 03:28 pm Report abuse
And while Nero (CFK) fiddles, Rome (Argentina) begins to BURN
5 yankeeboy (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 03:58 pm Report abuse
3. Futures market has the July Arg Peso at 8/1
6 EnginnerAbroad (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 05:16 pm Report abuse
@1 amazing today I am also announcing that I am going to fly the moon by sticking a rocket up my arse. It wont happen but hey if Argentina can announce things that will never happen then why not me?
7 yankeeboy (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 06:22 pm Report abuse
Meanwhile, average Argentines are finding that the trade restrictions are making some essential goods increasingly hard to obtain. The Association of Private Clinics, Sanatoriums and Hospitals recently sent a letter to the commerce authorities warning that stocks of articles like rubber gloves and syringes have dwindled to “critical levels.” Volunteer firefighters in the small town of Villa Gobernador Gálvez are nervously waiting for $10,000 worth of hoses, boots and other equipment that have been hung up in customs for three months. “It's an urgent necessity, because our hose is full of holes and water leaks out,” says Oscar Previtera, head of the local fire department.
Don't get sick in Argentina...
I bet Fat Maxi isn't wanting for anything while he is nursing his blown our knee.
8 AmericanLight (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 08:03 pm Report abuse
More villas on the way... Two and three stories with free electric
9 yankeeboy (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 08:53 pm Report abuse
8. Yeah no toilet but they have direct tv in the villas...
10 AmericanLight (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 09:03 pm Report abuse
Last time I flew into BA.... I remember a large wall of buildings(Villas) about three or 4 storie high on the left hand side of the highway.... I thought I had flown into Bolivia....
11 Truth_Telling_Troll (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 09:11 pm Report abuse

“There's not much mobility up and down,” he says. “The chances of someone from the top [income bracket] who doesn't do very well in school are better than someone from the bottom who does well in school.”

12 Furry-Fat-Feck (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 09:34 pm Report abuse
@11 Truth_Telling_Troll (#)
Jun 13th, 2012 - 09:11 pm

Well it is all relative. The USA has gone from being incredibly powerful to not quite as incredibly powerful. On the otherhand Argentina started at the bottom and is sliding ever further down.
13 Truth_Telling_Troll (#) Jun 13th, 2012 - 09:44 pm Report abuse

Started at the bottom? Certain about that, my sciolist fiend? We are still wealthier than 85% of the nations and societies of the world. I guess you believe “relativism” must work solely to your mealymouthed argumentative convenience. If “Argentina” is relative to the “United States”, then “Argentina” is also relative to ”(insert country name here___________). In 4 of 5 cases, we come out on top.

As usual with all of you argie-haters, you can't tell a duck from a horse. You are fibbing, duplicitous, dishonest scoundrels. And this prevents you from attaining even a microscopic degree of repute.

Try again next time. :(
14 yankeeboy (#) Jun 14th, 2012 - 12:21 pm Report abuse
Toby, Is there any other country that since 1900s has fallen faster and harder economically than Argentina? Going from #5 to #51 in 3 generations? I doubt it. I don't have the time to do the research though. Care to prove me wrong?
BTW did you see Arg doesn't have a University in the top 10 in LATIN AMERICA any longer!!
Becoming Bolivia more and more every year.
15 War Monkey (#) Jun 14th, 2012 - 01:47 pm Report abuse
@13 Truth_Telling_Troll (#)
Jun 13th, 2012 - 09:44 pm

I think there is a difference between an 'Argie hater' and a Malvinista hater. A big difference but Malvinistas can only deal in absolutes and therefore cannot tell the difference.

Amongst the G20 Argentina is at the bottom, hanging on by the skin of its fingernails but looking more and more likely to drop out. Like the feller said. It is all relative.
16 Truth_Telling_Troll (#) Jun 14th, 2012 - 02:00 pm Report abuse

How many countries were there in 1900s? How many are there today? The number of countries has doubled in Europe, Asia. There are many “countries” that are nothing but tiny islands and enclaves.

If you take all of those superfluous entities out Argentina would be in the top 30.

If the USA had 40 million people, it would have dropped to 14-15 when Japan, China, Brazil, and most of Western Europe recovered after WWII.


I think Europe is more like to fall off the G20.
17 yankeeboy (#) Jun 14th, 2012 - 04:24 pm Report abuse
Population is irrelevant because I am talking GDP per capita not total GDP, the numbers of countries is relevant so just use whatever was in existence in 1900. From that starting point you are stating you went from 5 to 30, has any other country done worse? I don't think so.

Quickly looking at the list I don't see one country that is below Argentina that could have been once above. Please show me where I am wrong.
18 Truth_Telling_Troll (#) Jun 14th, 2012 - 05:14 pm Report abuse
So let me twist your twisted logic a little:

Everyone here lambasts Argentina for dropping from top 5 to whatever it is now.

Have any of you haters eve for a minute sat down and considered the other side of the curve? How was it that us monkey argies did manage to get so supposedly wealthy in the first place?

In other words, if your child gets a 105 on a test whne the average kid got a 75, if your child then gets an 80 and the average is still 75 does it make him/her retarded?
19 yankeeboy (#) Jun 14th, 2012 - 08:22 pm Report abuse
18. Um at that point your economy was managed/controlled by the USA and UK then Peron kicked foreigner business owners out and nationalized everything. That's when you started down the long road to ruin. CFK has just put you in the fast lane though. Once the monkeys took the wheel it has been all down hill since.
So I am assuming you can't name 1 other country in the last 112 years that has had a great economic fall than Argentina. Am I correct?

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