“What do you think of my country so far?” Gabriela asked.
This is my first trip to Argentina. Our plane landed a couple hours earlier, and our driver took us to within a couple blocks of our rented apartment in the upper-end Recoleta district of Buenos Aires. So I had plenty of time to form a first impression.
She was asking my opinion, but she was looking for something else.
“Please tell me you don’t see what I see,” her eyes said. “Tell me you don’t see the litter in the streets, or the torn-up sidewalks. Tell me you don’t see the unwashed children tapping on the taxi windows, asking the passengers for spare change. You don’t see the graffiti-stained walls. Please tell me you see something good in this city.”[ad#Google Adsense]”Sweetheart,” I replied, as I leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead, “It reminds me a lot of San Francisco.”
Gabriela smiled the way every woman smiles when she knows her man is dodging the question, but she’s still appreciative of the dodge.
Buenos Aires is not the city my wife remembers – the city she spoke so proudly of after returning from a visit 19 years ago. Today, the pace is busy, but not productive. The streets are dirty. The gentlemen, whom she bragged would wear sport coats and ties to go outside and grab the morning paper, are now wearing sneakers and jeans to the restaurant on Sunday night.
It is less glamorous than my wife remembers. But it’s not nearly as bad as it was six years ago.
“The first thing that happened,” my wife’s uncle Sergio told me about the crisis, “is everyone lost compassion for each other.” It was all about getting what they wanted for themselves. Nobody else mattered. You couldn’t get money out of the banks. You couldn’t buy groceries to feed your family. You couldn’t buy gas to get to work. You couldn’t pay the utilities. You had to take what you could get, often at the expense of other people.
The government said, “You can’t have your money. We’re taking it.” So crimes increased – especially burglary and kidnapping. After all, if the government doesn’t respect the laws, why should anyone else?
This mindset is still prevalent in the country today. Indeed, the biggest fear among the businesspeople I have spoken to in Buenos Aires was the government would not honor its contracts.
Crime is still a problem. Not so much in Buenos Aires, but certainly in the suburbs – where burglary and kidnapping are as common as sunrises and sunsets.
Compassion for other people has made a comeback. Indeed, I doubt there is a more affectionate place on the planet than Buenos Aires. “Be careful though,” Uncle Sergio warns, “they may hug you with one arm while picking your pocket with the other.”
The important lesson to learn here is in a currency crisis, it’s every man for himself. You cannot count on the kindness of strangers. Prepare for it just as you would for any other emergency. Be sure you have plenty of food, water and cash to sustain your family for at least a month – two months is even better. A good supply of alcohol and tobacco is useful for bartering.
Don’t count on the government to live up to its promises. Indeed a healthy suspicion of the government is a good thing. And, don’t expect law enforcement to come to your rescue if the need arises. They’ll have their own problems.
The bottom line is, at the onset of a currency crisis you and your family are on your own. Be ready for it.
To be continued…
Best regards and good trading,
— Jeff Clark[ad#jack p.s.]
Source: The Growth Stock Wire