My last and rather lengthy Buenos Aires notes are from 2006, still worth a read. This time my visit was much shorter, but I had three dominant impressions. First, the city seems more “normal” and less Argentine than in times past. The nicer parts of town, as you might find in or near Palermo, seemed more “Pan-Latin” than anything else, as you might find in comparable parts of Mexico City or Bogotá. More hipster. More Brooklyn even. The whole “invisible stories about weird librarians obsessed with their cats” side of the city seems weaker these days. And along similar lines, traditional Argentinean food is harder to find.
Second, the talent of Argentina has been liberated from the country itself. Argentina has more unicorns — eleven! — than any other Latin American nation, though it is not close to tops in population. Yet for the most part these unicorns exist beyond the confines of Argentina. The top talents of Argentina seem to have used the internet more effectively to integrate into global markets than the top talents of other Latin countries. In contrast, Brazilian commercial talent seems best suited to…the rules of the game in Brazil.
Third, the country no longer seems to alternate between glorious hope and extreme despair. It seems more accepted that the country is not going to solve its fiscal or monetary problems, and instead will alternate between “OK enough” periods and “uh-oh inflation is really pretty high now” periods. Currently rates of price inflation are running at about fifty percent, and the black market exchange rate is about two times as favorable for the dollar as the official exchange rate. No one seems very surprised by this, nor is there much uncertainty about how things will end, nor is there great hope that “the reformers” will solve the problems. Yet a bounceback is likely to follow as well, sooner or later. The cyclical nature of the Argentine economy seems more accepted and enshrined in expectations. And the elite are more insulated from it than ever before, through a mix of Miami-based dollar accounts and crypto, and here are some tactics for the middle class (Bloomberg).
Fortunately, the economy is growing at an annualized rate of over eleven percent, though the year before it contracted by more than ten percent. None of that will end the cycle.
Buenos Aires remains one of the very best cities in the world, most of all in their summer.