L: Can you expand on that? Aside from the investment question, that’s the other thing people ask about: Are you crazy to live in a place run by maniacs?
Doug: Well, as I just said, the quality of life is tough to beat. It’s important to remember that through all the economic chaos, bank crises, hyperinflation, and so on, the government has never seized private land. That’s never been a problem in Argentina. And it’s unlikely to ever happen, because it’s a huge country – the eighth-largest in the world – but has a fairly small population, only 40 million. In fact, land redistribution all over the world is passé, simply because the world is moving into cities. Nobody except farmers and lifestyle-conscious rich folks really want to be out in the countryside anymore.
Almost all the troublesome news comes from Buenos Aires, a relatively small province, although it contains about 40% of the country’s population. Once you get out into the other provinces, it’s a different world – like going back in time, to a quieter, more peaceful age. But even in Buenos Aires, none of this stuff affects you directly; it’s just background noise. BA is sophisticated, cosmopolitan, has a relatively low crime rate for a big city, and the government leaves you pretty much alone.
L: I dunno, Doug, if the new government rules prevent you from taking out more than 1,000 pesos a day from an ATM, that could get pretty inconvenient.
Doug: Not for me – I don’t have an ATM card.
L: No cell phone, no ATM card – you’re quite the caveman for a technophile.
Doug: True. True. But you don’t want to have a bank account in Argentina anyway – that would be asking the fox to guard your chickens. This is why lots of European banks have lots of informal representatives in Argentina; they facilitate financial transactions for foreigners and rich Argentines. This is something else Cristina has come down on, and the many Swiss and other bankers in town have had to close down their offices and either move across the river to Uruguay or disguise themselves as brokerages. It’s an inconvenience. But on the other hand, credit cards work fine, and large transactions are still typically conducted in cash – which is to say briefcases full of the stuff. There are, unfortunately, not too many countries where that’s still true.
Doug Casey’s ongoing discussion of Argentina – http://iPerpetualTraveler.com