How America Goes the Way of Argentina
How America Goes the Way of Argentina by Bill Bonner – Bonner and Partners
BERLIN – Berlin is not a particularly attractive city – at least, not from our hotel room near the famous avenue, Unter den Linden. The buildings are all monumental, graceless, and blockish.
For years, the city has attracted young people from all over. It has some of the cheapest apartments in Europe and a lively, bohemian art scene.
It also has a generous social welfare system that makes it easy to live here with relatively little money.
Maybe that’s why there are so many immigrants… Driving downtown, it looked like nearly half the people we saw on the streets were from east of Byzantium. Dark hair, dark skin, scarves covering their hair – these were not the blonds we think of from the old documentaries on the Hitler Youth!
But the world has changed a lot since jack-booted troops marched through the Brandenburg Gate. And as much as we moan about Fed policy and the Washington circus… at least today, the mass killings and World Wars of the 20th century are no more. What killing that does take place is on a fairly small scale and in fairly remote places.
Things go in cycles. Booms are followed by busts… periods of peace are followed by violence… and every day of life brings us closer to the end of it, with all the world aging and drooping unto death.
There, we got that out of the way…
Now, we can turn our attention to the great show taking place right before our eyes – the markets, politics, extraordinary popular delusions, and the madness of crowds.
Last week, we were enjoying the spectacle from the cordillera of the Andes.
Argentina is a great country… always full of surprises, twists, turns, claptrap, and razzle-dazzle.
“We go broke about once every 10 years,” explained a lawyer friend. “The politicians do just what you expect in a sh*thole country. They borrow too much. They spend too much. They steal too much. And then, they go broke.”
The last 12 years – since we’ve been going there – has been a field day for corruption in Argentina.
Cristina Kirchner, the previous president, employed a driver to deliver envelopes of money to cronies, functionaries, and politicians. Alas, the driver kept a notebook of the transactions, which fell into the hands of prosecutors and led to a national scandal.
Billions of dollars were stolen – in bribes, padded contracts, and crooked deals of many different sorts. Much of it is now in foreign banks, from where the authorities will have a hard time getting it back.