Sunday, December 29, 2013

Miranda rights?

The BBC reminds us, reality bites, even when you blame it on Rio;
As the financial crisis in Cyprus has unfolded, every new development has been greeted by a chorus of analysts describing it as "unprecedented".
 Freezing all bank accounts, trying to make account holders pay for the clean-up, talk of nationalising the country's pension funds - all these things are pretty much unheard of in a modern European state.
But there is a part of the world where such events are all too familiar. Over the past few decades, South Americans have experienced all these trials and tribulations.
Brazil tried it;
In her first act, Zelia [Cardoso de Mello, named Finance Minister in 1990] went on national television to tell the country that all bank accounts were being frozen and that no-one could access more than 50,000 new cruzados in the currency of the time (a sum then worth about $1,250). 
With the predicted results;
The rest of account holders' money was untouchable for the next 18 months, by which time it was worth a great deal less, thanks to the very inflation that the move had been designed to reduce.
The plan did have some temporary success. Annual inflation declined from nearly 3,000% in 1990 to under 500% in 1991, but then it shot up again in subsequent years.  
Argentines, without means, did it;
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has had to seek creative solutions to her cash-strapped nation's problems.
In November 2008, she persuaded the Argentine Congress to pass a bill nationalising private pension schemes worth at least $23bn - a much larger sum than the one now at stake in Cyprus.
Which doesn't make the reality that inflation is, usually and most places, a monetary phenomenon, go away;
...the problems in Cyprus are part of a much larger crisis affecting the entire eurozone, caused by a "one-size-fits-all" currency regime that gives member nations no flexibility.
....Cyprus, which adopted the euro in 2008, has its monetary policy decided by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.
In contrast, Argentina has always kept its own currency, the peso. But under the Law of Convertibility, passed in 1991 and not abandoned until January 2002, its value was fixed at parity with the US dollar. 
No such thing as una comida gratis.

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