Thursday, October 4, 2012
By James K. Glassman
The fun may soon be over for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of Argentina with a reputation for reckless populism. Among other antics, she flamboyantly fired the head of the country's Central Bank and expropriated a majority interest in YPF, Argentina's largest oil company. Since 2003, Argentina has dropped from 68th to 158th (behind Burundi and Belarus) in the Index of Economic Freedom, compiled annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. Worst of all, Kirchner has spent five years flouting international financial norms -- and getting away with it.
But perhaps not for long. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said on Sept. 24 in Washington that if Argentina does not start providing acceptable and accurate economic data, it will face a "red card" -- the signal from a referee that a soccer player is expelled.
A week earlier, the IMF had issued an official warning to Argentina -- in effect, a yellow card -- that if it doesn't shape up by Dec. 17, it will become the first developed country ever to be kicked out of the 188-member organization. The IMF monitors the world economy, makes loans to members in trouble, and provides technical assistance.
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