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Member since: Thu May 18, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Argentina tops Bloomberg list of most vulnerable emerging markets

The quarterly Emerging Market Economy Scorecard published today by Bloomberg showed Argentina overtaking Turkey as the most vulnerable to external shocks among the 20 leading emerging economies surveyed.

Five major parameters were measured: current account balance; short-term external debt; hard-currency reserves; inflation; and "government effectiveness."

Argentina scored lowest on inflation, which reached 55.8% in June (compared to government projections of 20%); and on its short-term external debt, which reached 40.5% of GDP.

The country's balance of payments deficit (3.5% of GDP in the first quarter) is now made up entirely of foreign debt interest outlays, which have ballooned from $5.1 billion in 2015 (0.8% of GDP) to at least $20 billion this year (4.5% of GDP).

Argentina's current account deficit reached 5% of GDP in both 2017 and 2018, cutting off Argentina's access to foreign credit markets on growing fears of a future default.

The crisis forced the central bank to raise base interest rates from 27% in April 2018 to 59% currently to discourage capital flight, and to turn to the IMF for a record, $57 billion bailout.

The ensuing recession - the second since Mauricio Macri took office in 2015 - has led to a 5.8% fall in GDP, a 24.6% collapse in fixed investment, and 291,000 registered job losses as of May.

Including massive bond debts taken on by Macri in 2016-18, the next administration (2019-23) faces around $150 billion in foreign debt payments.

The 20 countries surveyed in the Bloomberg scorecard include 35% of the world's economy, and 55% of the world's population.

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-24/emerging-markets-less-at-risk-from-turkey-this-time-round-chart

Argentine President Mauricio Macri entertains U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the latter's visit to Buenos Aires earlier this week.

Macri enjoys staunch support from President Donald Trump, who reportedly ordered both Pompeo and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to facilitate Macri's unlikely re-election (he's behind in most polls) and the IMF to rubber-stamp all loans to Argentina until the October elections.

Critics warn that Trump's bailout is setting the stage for a likely default by Argentina by 2022, should the IMF refuse to renegotiate the debt with Macri's successor.

Barr directs federal government to resume capital punishment

Source: CNN

Attorney General William Barr directed the the federal government Thursday to resume capital punishment after nearly two decades and has directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of five inmates after adopting an updated execution protocol.

Barr has directed the head of the Bureau of Prisons to execute "five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly," according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

At Barr's direction, the Bureau of Prisons has adopted the Federal Execution Protocol Addendum which "replaces the three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug—pentobarbital," the Justice Department announced.

The Federal Government has not used the death penalty since 2003.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/politics/justice-department-capital-punishment-barr/index.html

Attorney General Bill Barr: Wondering if the new policy will apply to him someday?

Beaches across America showed unsafe levels of pollution last year, a study finds

Before you head to the beach this summer, you might want to double-check the water conditions.

Last year, nearly 60% of 4,523 beaches tested across the United States demonstrated unsafe water pollution levels on at least one day, according to a report released Tuesday by the nonprofits Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group.

These 2,627 beaches had bacteria levels that exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency's "Beach Action Value" threshold, which it recommends states use to provide an early alert to beachgoers who may be particularly sensitive to contaminants.

On the higher end of the scale in the new report, Inner Cabrillo Beach in Los Angeles County had 85 potentially unsafe days out of 175 days sampled. By contrast, Bethany Beach in Delaware's Sussex County tested potentially unsafe on one of 33 sampled days.

At: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/23/health/us-beaches-pollution-study-trnd/index.html

Crowds enjoy the Laguna Beach boardwalk and main beach, where post-rainfall beach closures have become increasingly common due to polluted runoff.

Elizabeth Warren's 'Economic Crash' call spotlights Democrats' line of attack on Trump

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren highlighted burgeoning debt levels and recent declines in manufacturing as factors making the U.S. economy vulnerable to a downturn.

The point previews a line of attack Donald Trump’s opponents will use to pierce the aura of a record-long expansion and half-century low in unemployment.

In a blog post Monday titled “The Coming Economic Crash - And How to Stop It,” the Massachusetts senator said she sees “serious warning signs” similar to the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

In addition to the economic weaknesses, Warren cited the inverted Treasury-yield curve and a poll of analysts as backing the idea that a recession is likely on the way.

Warren flagged as dangerous increases in household debt from student loans, credit cards and auto loans, along with rises in riskier corporate debt.

The senator also highlighted last week’s data from the Federal Reserve showing manufacturing has contracted in the U.S. for the past two quarters, “despite Trump’s promises of a manufacturing ‘renaissance.’"

At: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-22/warren-economic-crash-call-spotlights-line-of-attack-on-trump

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has reaped criticism from the business press for her recent warning that current policy could soon lead to another financial crash.

Because, after all, when have GOP policies ever crashed in the past.

Renowned Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli dies at 92

César Pelli, the Argentine designer behind the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, has died aged 92, marking the passing of one of the contemporary architectural greats.

Pelli established himself as a visionary and educator, making a name for himself in the United States where his main studio was based in the Yale University campus.

Born in San Miguel de Tucumán, in northwestern Argentina, in 1926, Pelli studied architecture at the University of Tucumán. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1952 to attend the University of Illinois School of Architecture, where he received his master's degree in 1954.

He became partner for design at Gruen Associates in Los Angeles in 1968, and many of Pelli's earliest works in the U.S. were in Southern California - including the the Lawrence Welk Plaza building in Santa Monica, CA (1969-71); the San Bernardino City Hall (1972); and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood (1975).

In 1977, Pelli became dean of Yale University’s School of Architecture and founded Cesar Pelli & Associates - since renamed Pelli Clarke Pelli, and which lists offices in New York, Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, Tokyo and Shanghai.

His most famous works include:

·World Financial Center, in Manhattan (1982-88)
·Norwest Center, in Minneapolis (1986-88)
·Carnegie Hall Tower, in Manhattan (1987-91)
·Key Tower, in Cleveland (1988-91)
·777 Tower, in Los Angeles (1988-91)
·One Canada Square, in Canary Wharf, London (1988-91)
·Bank of America Center in Charlotte, NC (1989-92)
·Terminals B and C at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC (1993-97)
·Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1993-96) - at the time the tallest buildings in the world
·International Finance Centre, in Hong Kong (2000-03)
·Gran Torre Santiago, Chile (2006-12)
·and Abenu Harukas, in Osaka (2010-14)

He also designed four office buildings in his native Argentina, in downtown Buenos Aires: República (1994-96); BankBoston (1998-2001); YPF (2005-08); and Banco Macro (2013-16).

Pelli was named one of the ten most influential living American Architects by the American Institute of Architects in 1991.

At: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-cesar-pelli/csar-pelli-argentine-architect-behind-the-petronas-towers-dies-aged-92-idUSKCN1UE2RM

Argentine-American architect César Pelli (1926-2019) in his Yale studio.

He once remarked that "one of America's strengths has always been its openness to the new: both new ideas and new people."

Brighton City Council fires city manager who blew whistle on $70M in water overcharges

Philip Rodríguez was fired from his post as Brighton City Manager in a 5-4 vote late Tuesday night by a city council who had “lost faith” in him and who had questioned his ability to lead, despite the former city manager blowing the whistle on the city accumulating $70 million in water overcharges and calling for a forensic audit into those irregularities.

In a news conference following his ouster, Rodríguez said his discovery of utility fund corruption in the city “has officially turned into a council cover-up tonight.”

The former city manager told news media that ever since discovering unnecessarily high rates based “on falsehood and illegal budgeting practices,” the council had worked on thwarting his efforts in order to get to the bottom of what he called “mysteries in utilities.”

Further, Rodríguez claimed the $70 million in water overcharges wasn’t the only issue he uncovered as city manager.

At: https://www.denverpost.com/2019/07/17/brighton-city-council-fires-philip-rodriguez/

Recently-ousted Brighton City Manager Philip Rodríguez: Utility fund corruption in the city “has officially turned into a council cover-up tonight.”

Meth-gators: Tennessee Police ask residents to stop flushing drugs down the toilet

Over the weekend, police in Tennessee asked locals not to flush their drugs down the toilet for fear of turning alligators into "meth-gators."

After officers witnessed a suspect try and dispose of methamphetamine in a lavatory, the Loretto Police Department warned residents on social media that such actions could create "methed up animals," CNN reported.

Police shared the advice on Facebook, writing: "Now our sewer guys take great pride in releasing water that is cleaner than what is in the creek; but they are not really prepared for meth."

"Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do. Furthermore, if it made it far enough we could create meth-gators in Shoal Creek and the Tennessee River down in North Alabama. They've had enough methed up animals the past few weeks without our help."

Police said they can destroy any drugs safely—without putting critters at risk.

Scientists think that drugs flushed down the toilet could be making their way into the environment and affecting animal populations, The Guardian previously noted.

At: https://www.newsweek.com/meth-toilets-drugs-alligators-ducks-geese-science-police-1449409

Tennessee alligators: A real meth?

China imports from US plunge 31% in June amid tariff war

China's trade with the United States plunged in June amid a tariff war with Washington over Beijing's technology ambitions that has battered exporters on both sides.

Imports of U.S. goods fell 31.4% from a year earlier to $9.4 billion, while exports to the American market declined 7.8% to $39.3 billion, customs data showed Friday.

China's trade surplus with the United States widened by 3% to $29.9 billion, potentially giving its critics ammunition to demand Washington take a hard line with Beijing.

Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed in June to resume talks on the fight over U.S. complaints about Beijing's trade surplus and plans for government-led development of technology industries.

That helped to calm financial markets but economists say the truce is fragile because the conflicts that caused talks to break down in May persist.

At: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/china-imports-us-plunge-june-amid-tariff-war-64286836

Tough guys: Trump and Xi Jinping during the recent Osaka G20 summit.

Trump's trade war will cost the average U.S. household an extra $767 this year, according to trade group estimates.

International Macri Fund: IMF approves another $5.4 billion for Argentina

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board of directors today approved releasing to Argentina a $5.4 billion tranche from a stand-by credit line granted last year as a bailout to deal with the country's debt crisis.

The latest tranche, the fifth since the bailout was agreed to in June 2018 with President Mauricio Macri, will bring the total disbursed thus far to $44.5 billion.

The $57 billion credit line is the largest in the Fund's history and makes up 61% of its loan portfolio - leading Argentine critics to refer to the IMF as the "International Macri Fund."

The approval comes despite earlier misgivings by IMF acting Managing Director David Lipton, 65, who as Deputy Managing Director until the July 2 resignation of Christine Lagarde had objected to Macri's use of the credit line to finance capital flight.

Of the $39 billion disbursed during the bailout's first year, $30 billion were lost to speculative capital flight.

"Article VI of the IMF states that no member may use the Fund's general resources to face capital flight," opposition candidate Alberto Fernández pointed out.

"The objectives set at the time the loan was granted have been absolutely distorted."

The bailout, however, is strongly supported by U.S. President Donald Trump, who shares both a political affinity and longstanding friendship with the Argentine president.

Fernández, who leads in most polls, has accused the IMF of "financing Macri's campaign by indebting Argentina."

He, as well as centrist candidate Roberto Lavagna (currently in third place), have called for a rescheduling of the IMF debt, most of which is due in just two years: 2022 and '23.

From bubble to bailout

Including massive bond debts taken on by Macri in 2016-18, the next administration (2019-23) faces around $150 billion in foreign debt payments.

Macri turned to the IMF - who had supported his policies - when a $60 billion carry-trade debt bubble known locally as the "financial bicycle" collapsed in April 2018.

The crisis cut off Argentina's access to foreign credit markets, and forced the central bank to raise interest rates.

The ensuing recession - the second since Macri took office in 2015 - has led to a 5.8% fall in GDP, a 24.6% collapse in fixed investment, and 261,000 registered job losses.

Inflation has meanwhile risen to 57.4% - the highest since 1991.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F206002-la-cuerda-del-fmi-para-tirar-otros-dos-meses

An elated Argentine President Mauricio Macri and acting IMF Managing Director David Lipton.

As Deputy Managing Director under his predecessor, Christine Lagarde, Lipton objected to Macri's use of the $57 billion IMF credit line to finance capital flight - a use the Fund's Article VI explicitly bars.

In his new post however, Lipton has yielded to pressure by President Donald Trump to rubber-stamp all loans to Argentina in a bid to prop up Macri (who's behind in most polls).

Critics warn that Trump's insistence is setting the stage for a likely default by Argentina by 2022, should the IMF refuse to renegotiate the debt with Macri's successor.

24 former officers linked to Plan Condor convicted in Italy

An appeals court in Rome convicted 24 former South American officers for their roles in at least 43 deaths of Italian nationals in the 1970s CIA-sponsored anti-subversive campaign known as 'Plan Cóndor'.

The convictions cap a 20-year legal effort that began with an investigation launched into Plan Cóndor-associated Italian deaths by prosecutors in Rome in 1999.

Arrest warrants were issued for 146 individuals in 2006. But due to a lack of cooperation from most of the South American nations involved, only one - former Uruguayan Navy Intelligence head Jorge Troccoli - was ultimately arrested.

Troccoli, 70, had emigrated to Italy, and was arrested in Salerno in 2007. Of the 24 defendants from Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay, he was the only one present at the trial.

He had been acquitted of all charges by a local Roman court in 2017; but was convicted in today's appeals court ruling. Extradition requests have been filed against the others.

Cóndor then and now

Plan Cóndor, formally established in November 1975 as a secret pact between the military intelligence heads of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, led, according to Paraguayan military documents, to the deaths of at least 50,000 dissidents over the next decade.

Through numerous Italian operatives, Cóndor was closely linked to the NATO-sponsored Operation Gladio, which sought to foment a "strategy of tension" in Italy during the 1970s as a means of undermining communist support there.

To many political observers in South America, Cóndor has a direct parallel to the recent wave of often unfounded charges against former officials in many of the center-left administrations that governed the region from 2003 to 2016.

These include those against former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, who was revealed in February to be the main target of a wide-reaching, Argentine Intelligence-run extortion and coercion scheme against contractors and her former officials. And that of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who remains in prison despite a lack of proof and despite recently-published recordings showing a coordinated, politically-motivated prosecution against him.

Both countries are now governed by hard-right - and unpopular - presidents who've expressed their desire to see Kirchner and da Silva in prison, and who work closely with the magistrates involved in their cases.

"I must say, for those who do not know, that Operation Condor never ended," Argentine exile Julio Frondizi, whose father, Professor Silvio Frondizi, was murdered by the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (which carried out the first stage of that country's Dirty War) in 1974.

"It goes on."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F205121-condenan-a-perpetua-a-24-represores-sudamericanos-en-italia-

Former Uruguayan Navy Intelligence head Jorge Troccoli (left) during his trial in Rome.

Troccoli was one of 24 former South American dictatorship officials convicted in today's ruling. But due to lack a lack of cooperation from most of the countries involved, the other 23 remain at large.
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