Dear Madame Christine Lagarde,
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
Let me begin by congratulating and commending you on the great job you are doing at our esteemed organization, the IMF. In your eight years in charge, you have ushered IMF into a golden age. It should not be any surprise why many call you the Rock Star head of the IMF. However, my mission today is not to sing your praise but to urge you to do something about the crisis unfolding before our eyes in Argentina.
When our boy Mauricio Macri assumed leadership in Argentina in 2015 we thought he would be the poster boy for neo-liberalism in Latin America. He had the easiest job in the world after all he took over from the communist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. After the Peso crash, the people of Argentina were left with no choice than to ditch the witch and embrace our puppet, Macri. Unfortunately, instead of inflicting our bitter neo-liberal medicine on Argentines, he has made a complete U-turn and is now implementing some socialist policies. He is beginning to sound like a Jeremy Corbyn tribute act. Imagine, he has expanded price controls to 60 essential goods and has launched a new program for subsidies on everything from travel and tourism to construction materials. How dare he reach-out to help the poor Argentines? Has he forgotten whose interest he is there to represent?
I need not remind you that Argentina is the Ground Zero of our neo-liberal experiment. Ever since Argentina became our colony in 1956, it has signed 22 Stand-By Arrangements. Like a cocaine addict, they can’t get enough of our poison. If we fail in Argentina, many leaders will lose confidence in capitalism and it will lead to an emergence of populist leaders in Latin America, which might jeopardize the economic interest of the United States of AmeriKKKa. Madame Lagarde, you must use your influence to make sure Argentina does not default on its debt for the second time. Fool the IMF once shame on Argentina. Fool the IMF twice, shame on us. Since our £56.3bn worth of debt is at risk, we can send our army of PhD economists to go to Argentina and extract 1,273 ounces of blood from each of the 44 million poor Argentines. Each ounce of blood can be valued at $1. Hopefully, this should appease the Almighty Market and satisfy our friends in Wall Street and the City of London.
But all is not lost. I understand that millions of Argentines are facing poverty thanks to the austerity measures we forced the Argentine government to implement. We can gladly boast that Argentina now ranks second behind Venezuela in the Misery Index. Fortunately, people are being forced to make hard choices. I heard of a guy who has been positively impacted by the Structural Adjustment Programme. Let me quote him: “Thanks to the IMF’s insistence on economic reforms, I have been faced with the pleasure of choosing between going homeless or eating from the dustbin. I chose the former by defaulting on my rental payment and now not only am I homeless, but I also rummage through the overflowing dustbins at Buenos Aires.”
I read in the Financial Times that for the IMF is proposing a slight increase in social spending that will allow the country to exceed the fiscal deficit targets agreed. This is a bit disappointing and quite unlike the IMF. Why are we going soft? Has the IMF lost its backbone? We must be careful not to offend the Almighty Market because if he feels that we are making life easy for the poor, he will get anxious and begin to throw the baby out of the bathtub.
We also can’t afford to have Cristina Fernández de Kirchner back in power again. With elections almost 6 months away, some pollsters are predicting she is on course to be re-elected. I spoke with an investor yesterday who told me she has not been able to sleep, eat and breath ever since Christina started leading the poll. Another person told me that he will commit suicide if she wins. One strategist at a vulture fund said his bonus would not be paid should Argentina default on its debt, and this could affect his ability to buy his wife a yacht for her 40th birthday.
To rectify the situation, we need to put our boy Mauricio Macri in his place. You should call for an emergency IMF Board meeting and summon Macri to Washington. We should let him know in no uncertain terms that he was put in power to protect our interest. Make sure he is standing or kneeling when we speak to him. Our economists could give him a crash course in Economics for Dummies. He should be told that when we call for pension reform, what we mean is we want old men and women working to the age of 100 so that international investors can get their debts paid. When we call for labor flexibility, we want workers to be put in a position that they can be easily fired, paid peanuts and make fewer demands on business. When we call for trade liberalization, we mean open markets that will enable Western companies easily dump their products and kill off small local businesses. When we call for deregulation, we want to remove the moral limits of the market and create a society that allows market values to influence every aspect of human existence. When we call for privatization, we want the prize assets held by the government on behalf of the Argentine people to be transferred to our multinational friends. When we call for the appointment into his cabinet of someone respected by the market, we want a man or woman who is ready to sell his/her country for 30 pieces of silver. When we call for cuts and welfare reforms, we mean to make life a misery for the lame, the little and the least. However, when he makes spending cuts for the poor, he should not forget to give tax breaks to the rich.
He should also be told to represent the interest of multinational corporations and maximize their profits in the process by helping them control the social lives of the 99%. If he asks us who we are answerable to, you can tell him that we are accountable to the US Treasury.
Finally, the IMF and our sister organization the World Bank have a lot to be proud of. Besides widening wealth inequality and increasing child poverty, we have also helped dictators like Pinochet, Somoza, Ceausescu and Mobutu in the past. However, we need to be more strategic. Our Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) has become toxic. May I suggest we rename it to Suck And Plunder? We should also be more vigilant of countries where disaster is lurking. We could capitalize on the disaster happening in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique by introducing radical economic reforms in these countries. I am sure our friends in Mayfair and Connecticut will be more than happy to pack their suitcases and put disaster capitalism into action.
I trust that you will implement the ideas raised in this letter. If you would like to discuss the contents in more details, please let me know.
Ahmed Sule , CFA
27 April 2019