Editorial
Lacunza has become Alberto's greatest ally
Por Ignacio Fidanza
Macri's Minister of Finance has implemented an unpopular currency control policy that will help bounce back the economy once Alberto Fernández arrives to the Casa Rosada.

Macri's response to the economic crisis in Argentina has been so bad in terms of political vision that he ends his term absorbing all of the costs of his bad decisions, but at the same time he implements much of the inevitable dirty work that will allow his opponent -and likely successor- to have a much less complicated beginning than was seen approaching.

The return of the dollar "clamp", of capital controls, of the obligation to the cereal growers to liquidate in peremptory times, is a combo of Kirchnerist-style actions that Alberto will now receive with open arms, but at the same time, he will be free to point to the cursed inheritance he received from the Macri administration.

The administration's timing has been so disastrous that they set the clamp after defaulting on its own debt in pesos. It was one thing or the other. The situation is so ridiculous that now with the dollar market closed, in a few days or weeks the government could very well pay the defaulted debt since it does not run the risk that those pesos will turn into dollars. They are already analyzing this possibility.

The first possible effect of these actions will be the return of the exchange double as in the good old times of Cristina. Those who want to buy more than the USD 10,000 per month authorized by the Central Bank, will have to go to the underground market or cash it with the price set by the Central.

Another possible consequence is a lowering of the interest rates since again, it is not necessary to encourage alternative mechanisms to the purchase of dollars, because this is partially prohibited.

"In a few weeks when the initial panic passes it would not be strange to see the Central Bank fixing the reserves since exporters will be obliged to sell and the entities and companies they bought from will be forced to save, they will have to liquidate to continue operating," an experienced executive told LPO.

So why didn't they implement the currency clamp before? Because Macri was imprisoned by dogmatism or ideological vanity that made him believe that the free market was going to prevail beyond the historical and sociological structure of Argentina, a bi-monetary country, or a dollarized country, but without sufficient dollars. A country in which the local currency has no value and there are not enough dollars for everyone. A clamp-nation. It is fair to say that on the day he announced the clamp without a net, Macri signed his political future away. He was killed by optimism.

Did Lacunza take all these measures because he didn't have any other option or is this part of a transition pact with Alberto Fernandez? The question has no importance, the central thing is that in the facts he clears the way for the Peronist. With these actions, the Central puts a brake on the process of loss of reserves in the medium term, which is what Fernánde'z demanded, who after his inflammatory interview with the Wall Street Journal, managed to bring Macri to his knees.

Alberto will thus receive a country with international reserves, the problem of the dollar "solved", a primary deficit around 1% of the GDP, and the debt at a sweet point to kick the maturities of 2020 and 2021. Also, the value of companies on a fantastic ground: To give an example, today YPF is worth USD 3.4 billion and has USD 2.2 billion in deposits abroad. The economy has everything it needs to bounce back, just by applying a little more political leadership and a lot less whim to the current situation. 

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