Word from Buenos Aires tonight is that Martin Lousteau, Argentina’s Minister of the Economy of just two months, may be about to resign his post. According to our information, Lousteau spent two hours this afternoon with his President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, where he explained that he could not do his job correctly while other members of the government continue to interfere with the workings of his ministry.
Singled out in his complaints is the role of Guillermo Moreno, the secretary of interior commerce and member of the Kirchner inner circle. According to our information, the straw that broke the camel’s back is the news that Moreno has formed a task force of 30 economists to investigate costs of production in Argentine industries. Some members of government suspect there are companies that overstate production costs and therefore avoid fiscal responsibility. This may or may not be true, but the actions taken by Moreno seem rather extreme, particularly when one considers he made use of a heavy-handed law enacted in the period of Argentina’s military dictatorship that gives said economists free access to the books held by any company the government wants to examine.
Whether or not he finally resigns, Lousteau’s obvious and understandable discomfort about this situation seems to have peeled a layer of respectability away from the new Cristina government. If this administration is set on taking such an intrusive attitude towards businesses operating in Argentina, we would have to agree with the stance reportedly taken by the youthful but respectable and respected Lousteau. We would also be more than a little concerned for the future of the country’s economy.
Just hours after the information (from normally reliable sources) originally passed this desk, Argentina’s government has denied that Lousteau will resign with the Presidential Palace apparently calling the reports “ridiculous” and “a total delirium”.
We, however, have learned from experience that there is no smoke without fire in Argentine politics.