The most recent "Big Mac Index" in The Economist--that magazine's tongue-in-cheek way of comparing relative currency strenghs via the price, in USD, of Big Macs around the world--has just come out, and it shows that Argentina's peso is correctly priced against the USD because a Big Mac costs $3.64 in USD here, compared to $3.57 in the US of A. If you recall, in the years since the 2001/2 crisis and devaluation, the peso was always kept artificially weak against the dollar to promote exports, and many thought it should trade between 2 and 2.50 to the USD. If you're to believe the index (which suggests that the peso should actually be a little weaker than it is--3.08/USD instead of the current 3.02), the current parity suggests that inflation, the farm crisis, lack of confidence in the international financial markets, etc. have taken a toll on the peso. Elsewhere in South America, a Brazilian Big Mac, at the equivalent of $4.73, suggets that the Real is a third overvalued, while Colombia, Chile and Peru, like Argentina, seem about right. The best place on the continent to buy a Big Mac? Placid Uruguay, at $2.55.
Yesterday's Latin Business Chronicle brought up an astute point in a story about the flood of optimism many experienced after Los K lost their farm tax vote in the senate: the current silence of Los K is unlikely a sign of newfound humility. Rather, it may mean that they're figuring out a way to get revenge on the people who opposed them in the farm tax matter (i.e. anti-patriotic coup plotters, dictatorship fans, oligarchs, and haters of the people). Of course, everything's conspiracy theory in Argentina, but the LBC's conjecture: letting the peso get stronger will lower inflation while hurting farm exporters--and will buy time for Los K to think up something nastier. Truth or fiction? Please discuss.
The New York Times article I wrote about Boedo in January already generated an inordinate amount of attention in the Argentine media. It was discussed on the radio, mentioned in several local print pieces, and I was even interviewed by Para Ti about what made Boedo so fascinating to a yanqui like me. It seemed that people were fascinated that the NYT had "discovered" an upcoming BA nabe before the locals had (or some such thing). But the furor happily died down. So you can imagine my surprise last Friday eve when Cintra and I were eating at Pan y Arte, one of the Boedo pieces mentioned in the piece, and the owner Germinal came over with another story about my piece, this one from Revista Nueva ("La Revista del Interior"). It led with the obligatory snideness about how wrong I was to talk about a rebirth of the neighborhood, as Viggo Mortensen has been hanging out there for a decade (note to Revista Nueva: Mortensen spent much of his youth in Argentina and is a huge fan of San Lorenzo, formerly the Boedo team). All in all a fine thing though, except for one complaint: like Para Ti, it mispelled my name. Apparently in Argentina my apellido must be Munt. I must start practicing that. Munt, Munt, Munt.
The friends, fine people, and snappy dressers who make up Democrats Abroad management have scored a coup getting the Micro-Cine inside the Centro Cultural Recoleta for the inauguration of their new film series. The first movie, a Big-Time Award Winning Documentary (but mercifully short at 75 minutes), Through Thick & Thin covers the plight of the thousands of same-sex bi-national couples in the United States. It follows seven couples and was filmed in the US, France, UK, Canada, Argentina and Brazil. Its director, Sebastian Córdoba, is an Argentine who's lived for more than a decade in NYC. Combining NYC and Argy cultures, they say he makes a mean bagel asado, but que sé yo?
Sadly, it took DemsAbroad a heap long time to firm the cinema deal, which didn't give them a whole lotta time to promote the film--the show is, gulp, tomorrow. Hence, we're a-helpin' the promotin'.
* The show's *tomorrow* at 4pm.
* It's free and open to the public (yes, even you).
* In English with Spanish subtitles (sorry, no Sanskrit; hey, we tried).
* There will be volunteers standing by (only standing, no sitting) to help US citizens get their absentee ballots for November.
So, y'all, please do go see it.
Not surprisingly, after last night's marathon Argentine Senate session and rejection of the Presidenta's tax plan by a tie-splitting vote against her by her Vice President Julio Cobos (just imagine Cheney doing that to Bush), today's blogs were filled with plenty a comic/sarcastic/cutting image of Cobos. Like, say, the one above, thanking him for showing some huevos (if you know what I mean).
Up they go! Taxi prices go up again, today at midnight. The new costs? Up 22.5% to 3.80 pesos to get into a cab and 38 centavos for every 200 meters or minute waiting (the old prices: 3.10 and 31 centavos). When we got here in May 2005 it cost 1.60 pesos to get in, which makes the three year increase, oh, 138%. Luckily, inflation is not a problem (said in the same tone as, "These are not the droids you're looking for.").
Yesterday evening, we here at GoodAirs had the pleasure of having a classic 4th of July (we'll, except for being in Buenos Aires) with Yanqui Mike and the folks of Democrats Abroad Argentina. Hotdogs were eaten, Budweiser drunk,and much celebration was made of this being G.W.B.'s final July 4th as President. The location: Le Merval, a bar named after the Buenos Aires stock exchange where the price of each drink went up and down depending on demand. For a video of the event, from Clarín, click here.
Just when a boy starts to get tired of the campo striking, Cristina screaming, no one listening, and smoke wafting in from the north--the apocolypse as farce--the director of the Jardín Botánico, Carlos Cosentino, manages to get himself fired when it comes to light that some of his employees have been leasing out the botanical garden for photo shoots (400 pesos), renting park benches (two for the low price of 100 pesos) and, according to two former gardeners, selling burial plots inside the park. At least they're using natural fertilizer. I still can't get used to the "Proud Users of Roundup Ready Seeds" signs on the road to Córdoba.
Talking of corpses (not to mention ham-handed transitions), Starbucks started to look a bit sick around the gills on Tuesday, when the hawker of burnt-coffee-by-the-vat (sorry Starbucks lovers, sorry Cintra) announced that it was closing 600 stores in the U.S. Ever retro-fashion-forward Buenos Aires (Mullets? Check. Repetitive labor strife? Check.), however, recently was colonized by its first Starbucks, when the Seattle death star, via a Mexican licensee, opened a store in Alto Palermo. To fit with local mores, it will offer a "frappuccino" of dulce de leche and a "mate latte" of mate cocido with milk, not to mention glacially slow table service.
Talking of corpses (as we do around here), three lost reels of "Metropolis", the 1927 futurist dystopian masterpiece made by the now-dead genius Fritz Lang, were found in the archives of the Buenos Aires Museo de Cine. Originally brought over by the brilliantly named film distributor Adolfo Z. Wilson, the German film apparently spent much of the last eight decades hiding out with its fellow German immigrants, under an assumed name, in a small village outside Bariloche.