Sunday, October 7, 2012
By Tony Leon
Walking down the tree-lined boulevards in Buenos Aires for the last time after three years as South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina, I noticed the empty display windows in one of its upmarket emporiums. The fashion retailer Louis Vuitton – a favourite of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the handbag-wielding president – had just announced it was closing its doors. Its exit from the country, following fast on the departure of other locally esteemed international luxury brands, was the latest scene in a long-playing melodrama: the Crisis of Cristinanomics.
Argentina is heading, and not for the first time, over an economic cliff as the population races to dump pesos for dollars and a zealous government fights back through draconian currency controls, manipulating economic data and import-suppression measures.