Friday, December 7, 2012
By Silvia Pisani
WASHINGTON - While the possibility is already near for an eventual “red card” from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country’s official inflation statistics were denounced in the American Congress.
"The lie with regard to Argentina is something that so jumps out in plain view that it hurts your eyes,” said Joseph Kadane, an academic from Carnegie Mellon University. "The problem with that lie is that if it isn’t corrected, it will explode sooner or later and will be worse for everyone,” he said.
It was during a colloquium that American Task Force Argentina (ATFA), the main pressure group of holders of debt bonds in default, gave in meeting rooms of the House of Representatives.
Not lost was the recent advance in that body of a bill to financially sanction Argentina, nor the next evaluation that the IMF will make of official statistics of inflation and economic growth.
"Nobody can guess no if in this next evaluation the IMF will decide, or not, on a sanction for Argentina. But I think that if there are no corrections that will come sooner or later. Argentina cannot live on the run,” said one of the spokesmen for ATFA, Robert Shapiro.
Thirty people followed the presentation. Among them, members of the investigation unit of the Congress, a well-known group of independent study that advises the legislators.
"Argentina is reporting a much lower inflation that it really has. But, while this is very serious, what’s worse is that the government of Cristina Kirchner is violating human rights to maintain that lie,” Kadane said.
Among other points, he cited the cases of ex-officials of the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) who were first expelled from the organization and then sued in court for opposing official measures. “Even the Congress is now reporting a different measure than the official one. But if the legislators dare to do it it’s because they have immunity and cannot be arrested,” he emphasized.
The speech included projected charts in which the difference was shown between the official and private measures of price indices in various countries in the region.
In the cases of Venezuela, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, the differentiation was not very large. In the case of Argentina, the acuteness “hurts your eyes.” “Even Venezuela is more transparent than Argentina at the time of measuring inflation,” he said.
The IMF set December 17 as the deadline for when the head of the organization, Christine Lagarde, brings to the board a report about the response from Argentina on the commitment that it made to improve its statistics.
But the expected document doesn’t have a date yet to be submitted to discussion in the plenary.
Official sources anticipated to LA NACION that it would be difficult for that to occur before the second half of January.
A not-so-dangerous ruling
The ratings agency Moody’s said yesterday that it predicts a limited impact on future debt restructurings in case the vulture funds succeed in their request to receive equal treatment. The risk agency argued that not all sovereign bond contracts had a similar clause of pari passu as those of Argentina’s bonds.