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Casas de Cambio and Throwing Paper
Wednesday, 04 January 2012

Cristina Kirchner, who last October has been elected for the second term of presidency had a successful surgery today to remove her thyroid cancer. We wish her good luck and quick recovery...

Her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who was the President of Argentina from May 2003 until December 2007, when Cristina took over the presidency for the first time, died out of heart failure in October 2010.

One person can serve as a president for only two consecutive terms in Argentina, but that person may again be elected after a term away from power. It seems like the plan of Mr. and Ms. Kirchner was to keep the presidency in the family for a number of years, but the heavens seemed to have had a different plan for them as was evident by Mr. Kirchner's passing away over a year ago...

One of the challenges that Cristina faced at the onset of her presidency was high inflation. She was accused of misreporting the true inflation figures in order to make a false impression of handling the problem. Whether this is true or not, the fact is that for whatever reason the present policy is to keep a tight grip on the flow of funds. The direct affect of this policy on people like myself is that it is a big chore for anyone to exchange foreign currency. Once you go to “casa de cambio” to make an exchange, each time you have to present your passport and give the address where you stay. Each time the clerk types that information into the computer before making any exchange. As a result even the simples exchange operation takes 5 to 10 minutes to perform. That results in big line-ups at the exchange places. After going through that nonsense two or three times I decided to avoid that by exchanging my dollars on the black market where the operations are as efficient as they should be and exchanging a hundred dollar bill for pesos doesn't take more than 10 to 20 seconds.

This kind of government control will always result in failure. If the government-approved ways are inefficient the black market will always take over. I have seen that in the socialist Poland in the 80's when exchanging foreign currency (mainly American Dollars) legally was next to impossible but the business was just booming on the black market. And the same thing I am observing now in Argentina. As a result of such faulty policies the government looses as it is not able to control the flow of funds, tax the exchange businesses, etc.

During festivities Argentines like to throw in the air huge quantities of small pieces of paper. I am not sure if this custom is also practised in other South-American countries, maybe so, but I have observed it here. Sometimes you can see it at the stadiums at soccer matches. I have seen it on the TV report from Cristina Kirchner's inauguration to her second term of presidency earlier in December. Millions of small pieces (maybe a quarter or an eights of a standard page size) of white and blue paper (Argentine's national colours) were floating in the air from time to time. When I went to the Plaza de Mayo a few hour later, I could see the large amount of paper lying on the ground.

This custom is also performed at the end of each year at the last day of work of that year. This year that was Friday, December 30. The office workers cut all kind of paper into small pieces and throw them through the windows. This time the problem is much worse, as this is done not in one isolated area of festivities that is relatively easy to clean afterwards, but all over the city.  For this and next few days the streets are simply littered with paper pieces, some of them being very small pieces from paper shredders...

Streets after the last day of work in the year.

Posted by J23


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