Argentina tries to stave off a continuing financial crisis

Argentina has introduced new restrictions on online shopping as part of efforts to stop foreign currency reserves from falling any further.

…Items imported through websites such as Amazon and eBay are no longer delivered to people’s home addresses. The parcels need to be collected from the customs office.

Believe it or not, there is several hours wait at the customs office.  There is more here, via Counterparties.

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And to think just how often I had to drive more than a half hour to the customs office in Baden-Baden to pick something from Amazon in the U.S., though admittedly, apparently many in this region adjusted so that everything came through Amazon UK instead. Including us, of course.

One assumes that Argentina belongs to somebody's fashionable free trade block, right? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercosur

Countdown to Amazon applying its EU lessons starting in 3.2.1....

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Believe it or not, there is several hours wait at the customs office

This is the easiest thing in the world to believe.

Pretty much - though I have never waited for more than an hour to be searched in the U,S, before being allowed to enter a formerly public space, such as the Capitol (just a half hour there) or visiting the Statue of Liberty (less than 45 minutes before passing the freedom gates). The Smithsonian's bag search wait was under ten minutes, but likely because that is less a government institution.

Oddly, I have yet to need to pass through a single freedom gate or have any bags searched in any public place inGermany - probably because the Germans have another idea of protecting freedom than in the U.S.

Is this on topic because both involve waiting?

It's about bashing the US. It's the only topic p_a has.

Well to be a little more exact, sometimes it's about bashing TC specifically or George Mason, etc. But they all fit under the broad US bashing.

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LOL

Or should I say, for p_a, wunderbar!

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Nope - the idea that waiting at a government office is not generally notable, while the searching of American citizens in many contexts concerning the federal goverment has become so routine that no one talks about it. At least in the DC area - to be asked for ID and then inspected before being allowed to enter a federal building is just part of how people go about their business. Every single day, year in and year out.

Strangely, no one remarks at how such waiting has become routine in such situations, but when people need to wait in Argentina at a customs office, this is remarkable to highlight, so to speak.

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So, you once again you stray from the topic at hand to bash the US. Your behavior seems compulsive.

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+1

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"The parcels need to be collected from the customs office."

This was always the case.

Shh - a narrative is being created, no need to bring facts into the discussion.

You can also pay the tax online, as you can most things in Argentina. Does Tyler think Argentina is Africa?

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Yeah, how dare those terrorists point out why a new regulation might create a bottleneck or inconvenience! Everyone is already aware of all relevant information, which jumps to the center of their consciousness whenever it's needed!

***
Anyway, I don't care what your ideological stripes are; if a government finds itself needing to do this, their policies need a SERIOUS re-think.

It's a little more complicated than that. The Argentine government is subsidising its industry through a mixture of energy, protectionist and inflationary policies. The bleakness of Argentina's industrial sector can not be overstated. Doing without access to the bond market is impossible with a variety of backdoor policies. The only alternative -- opening up the economy -- is a catch-22 situation, because that would undermine any true industrial recovery.

It's a mix-mash of peverse long-run policies, but in the circumstances it may be the best choice. In 2016 the country will be debt free and tapping the Vaca Muerta -- they're holding out till then.

Or, to sum it up, "their policies need a SERIOUS re-think".

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LOL If that's what being subsidized looks like, then I'd rather be taxed!

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Tapping the dead cow strikes me as a pretty good description of economic development in a lot of the third world.

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For the record, here's a good english overview of what the changes mean:

http://bubblear.com/2014/01/online-purchases-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-afip-regulations/

This is still a pretty blatant (hard) cash grab. Then again, so is lying about inflation to screw over people dumb enough to hold Argentine debt, as if anybody is fooled.

Slightly related: any word on where Cristina Kirchner is, by the way?

It is, but it's really just a continuation of an already harsh policy. It's not as desperate as what this link makes it out to be -- they're streamlining the process.

Cristina's public TV appearance was scheduled for today. Where she was, who knows. I'd guess receiving treatment for the brain bleeding.

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Bandaid.

The Argentine peso has gone from 5/dollar to 7/dollar in one year.

Hindering online shopping will not stop the fall of the peso.

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When I was in Argentina a lttile over a year ago the official exchange was about 4.5 Peso/Dollar but the black market for hard money was already closer to 6 peso/dollar. The rich have all their money in dollars or physical assets and don't use peso for anything beyond small day to day purchases. This will drive more stuff underground and people to shop in Chile or Brazil.

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These crazy import restrictions are not new. Thankfully during 2012-2013 I had a Kindle and could import ebooks immediately (and I even used to pay them at the "official" -aka cheaper/subsidized- exchange rate).
I now live in USA (btw, near the Amazon headquarters), so this bolivarian mercantilism does not affect me personally anymore.
As an argentine expat, I am obviously (and permanently) worried, though.

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I am not understanding. If conserving foreign exchange is a policy object, why not distribute tranches of foreign exchange through multiple price auctions adjusting the official exchange rate each month? They are doing that in Iceland. Why are these ad hoc measures necessary?

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Does anyone here believe that an expensive camera or other expensive package would make it from Amazon in the US to the Argentine post office and then to somebody's address? Good luck with that.

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Yeah, yeah, nothing is happening http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/01/23/snap-argentina-peso-panic-in-buenos-aires/

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