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Squeezing the turnip: Argentines protest IMF, austerity measures

Argentina appears to be on the road to getting the IMF treatment 2.0, and the people are taking to the streets over it.. 

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Argentina appears to be on the road to getting the IMF treatment 2.0, and the people are taking to the streets over it..Radio Havanna reports:

Thousands of Argentineans marched in Buenos Aires on Thursday against the economic policies of the administration of Mauricio Macri and an announced deal with the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. Organizers of the protest said that the government will undoubtedly worsen the economic situation in the country and put in danger Argentina’s peso currency.

Under a driving rain, protesters from progressive organizations and unions carried banners and waved flags. Secretary-General of the Association of State Workers, Hugo Godoy, sounded defiant as he spoke out against the government policies. He said: “To the workers: they will not stop us, nor the storm and because we workers are not going to to permit this Congress to accept the interference of the International Monetary Fund, the increase of tariffs or the labor reform. We are going to fight until the end so that those infamous resolutions of the government of Macri are turned back. The workers have a memory. We know that policies like these led us to hell and we will not allow it.”
Macri and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde announced on Tuesday they were opening talks for a financing deal after Argentina’s peso currency touched a new low of 23.5 to the dollar, despite tighter fiscal measures and hiking interest rates up to 40 percent in Latin America’s third-largest economy.

On Wednesday, the Treasury Ministry announced it would seek a “stand-by deal” from the IMF, a type of financing that would likely require more conditions and orthodox policy reforms than a Flexible Credit Line (FCL), such as the more so-called stable economies of Mexico and Colombia have.

Argentines remember the last the time the IMF ‘helped’ them. Last time, measures adopted in connection with assuming a loan from the International Monetary Fund resulted in 1 in 5 joblessness, millions of people plunged into poverty, and strict austerity measures. Right now, history appears to be repeating itself, as President Macri has announced that he is seeking credit from the international lender. The AP reports:

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — It seemed like a collective moan could be heard across Argentina as President Mauricio Macri uttered three words that many in this country associate with the worst of times: International Monetary Fund.

Macri surprised Argentina by announcing this week that he will seek a financing deal with the IMF following a sharp devaluation of its currency and a tough global outlook. The move has brought back bad memories for Argentines who blame the IMF for encouraging free-market policies that led to the country’s worst economic crisis in 2001.

“Historically, the image of the IMF has been something very traumatic for us Argentines,” Jorge Fidler, a 72-year-old accountant, said of the economic crunch, which included government turmoil with five presidents in just two weeks. “This really is a bitter pill to swallow.”

The crisis 17 years ago resulted in one of every five Argentines being jobless, millions sliding into poverty and some reporting going hungry. The peso, which had been tied to the dollar, lost nearly 70 percent of its value.

Banks froze deposits and put up sheet metal barricades as thousands of protesters unsuccessfully tried to withdraw savings. At least 27 people died in protests and looting in December 2001 as South America’s second-largest economy unraveled.

Blame has been heaped since then on the IMF for its role in Argentina’s debt default of more than $100 billion. A survey by Argentine pollsters D’Alessio Irol/Berensztein said 75 percent of Argentines feel that seeking assistance from the IMF is a bad move. The survey of 1,077 people in early May had a margin of error of three percentage points.

“The IMF is the last instance lender. It’s a quasi-toxic word here,” Sergio Berensztein, a political analyst and co-author of the poll, told The Associated Press. “It’s like when you go to the dentist. You might need it, but you don’t want to go.”

In a nationally televised address, Macri said he had begun talks with the IMF as a way to combat economic woes at home and a complex situation worldwide, including rising interest rates, higher oil prices and a depreciation of emerging market currencies. A week earlier, the Argentine peso hit a historic low against the U.S. dollar and prices for Argentina’s bonds sank.

Still, the decision to reach out to the IMF for loans to shore up government reserves and dampen currency pressures caught many off guard. Just a year ago, Argentina was still a darling among investors. The government sold out an issue of 100-year bonds taking advantage of a low interest rate.

Many people spoke then of an economic miracle and said Macri was practically guaranteed re-election after his coalition scored a decisive victory in congressional elections. Now, the opposition has been emboldened and Macri’s political future seems more unsettled than ever.

What happened?

“There was a lot of optimism and financial markets were looking for any kind of yield anywhere. And any country which looked on the right path, and Argentina certainly did, was attracting a lot of attention and money,” said Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

She said that after Macri took office in 2015, he was able to accomplish a lot quickly. He resolved a longstanding legal dispute with creditors that returned Argentina to the global credit markets for the first time since its record default during the 2001 disaster. He removed currency controls and other economic distortions, and he ordered the government to publish credible statistics, which had been disputed by the IMF and local analysts under his predecessors.

“It helped to give the sense that Argentina is moving forward,” De Bolle said. “I don’t think markets were wrong — they might have been overly optimistic, but so was the government.”

Macri’s government said from the start that gradual austerity measures were needed to revive Argentina’s struggling economy. He cut red tape and tried to reduce the government’s budget deficit by ordering job cuts and cutting utility subsidies, which sparked labor unrest.

When his Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition scored a triumph in the midterm elections, Macri said he would seek even deeper changes in tax and labor rules. But Argentines continued to lose purchasing power from high inflation and many were frustrated with rises in fuel and transportation costs.

Argentina has long had one of the world’s highest inflation rates. Macri, a pro-business conservative, had promised to curb consumer prices, which estimates say rose up to 30 percent a year in 2015 under his left-of-center predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

Then in December, officials announced a rise in the inflation target, causing investors to begin doubting Macri’s commitment to taming price rises.

Meanwhile, the peso slumped against the dollar as rising U.S. interest rates lured investors to pull money out of Argentina and put it in the U.S. That caused jitters among Argentines, who are used to stashing away dollars as a cushion since the 2001 crisis. Macri’s government was forced to impose three interest rate hikes and tighten the fiscal deficit target.

Despite central bank intervention and talks between Argentina and IMF officials that opened Thursday in Washington, the peso hit a new all-time low of 24.50 on Friday afternoon. Argentina’s treasury says it is seeking a stand-by deal, but the amount and terms have not been disclosed.

David Malpass, the U.S. treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said Thursday that he welcomed the talks to promote “growth and market reforms” in Argentina.

But for many Argentines, it spells the contrary. A local TV channel ran a banner this week reading: “Back to the future.” In Congress, opposition lawmakers protested by putting large signs on their desks proclaiming: “Out with the IMF!”

The international lender has admitted that it had a made a string of mistakes that contributed to Argentina’s economic implosion. A 2004 report by the IMF’s internal audit unit concluded it failed to provide enough oversight, overestimated growth and the success of economic reforms, while it continued to lend Argentina money when its debt burden had turned unsustainable.

“The IMF did not press the authorities for a fundamental change in the policy regime and in December 2001 effectively cut off financial support to Argentina,” the report said.

Without further IMF support, the government was forced to declare the largest sovereign debt default in history.

Many Argentines still blame the IMF for permissive and heavy lending that led to devaluation of the peso and the debt default.

“It’s very sad,” said Soledad Patane, 29, a university student in Buenos Aires. “What they do is indebt a country until that country can no longer pay the debt and it becomes an indirect colony of those countries that continue to lend us money.”

De Bolle, who worked at the IMF in the early 2000s, finds such sentiments understandable, but she says the international lender has changed radically since Argentina’s crisis. She said it has loosened policy prescriptions that forced austerity on borrowing nations and now puts more focus on inequality and social issues.

“It was nearly 20 years since the fund was involved with Argentina,” she said. “That’s a long time. It’s now a different institution.”

The government’s action comes after a protest of massively increased utility tariffs of over 500%, which was protested by a popular blackout, and a 40% interest rate jump.

These austerity measures intend to squeeze more money out of the economy while the government contributes less, which invariably means that consumer activity will slow down, leading to less received in taxes and more people losing jobs as the economy adjusts to less consumer spending in compensation for higher bills.

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

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Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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Deep State poster boy Peter Strzok gives bizarre testimony that goes viral (Video)

The face of the Deep State.

Alex Christoforou

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If you were not convinced that the Deep State exists, then look no further than Peter Strzok’s bizarre, yet revealing, congressional testimony, showcasing the arrogance and smugness of a powerful FBI agent who worked diligently to push a fake Trump-Russia narrative onto the American public.

Via Zerohedge

While Peter Strzok’s marathon Congressional testimony was full of bickering, chaos and drama – mostly between members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees – a clip of the disgraced FBI agent’s seemingly giddy reaction after answering a question is creeping people out.

Some have suggested that Strzok’s reaction was “Duper’s delight” – a hidden smirk that slips out at an inappropriate moment when a liar celebrates a successful manipulation.

Watching Peter Strzok, its hard, if not impossible to believe that this man is not a psychopath, who hated Trump so much that he was willing to forward a collusion story that has cost American taxpayers millions, and torn American society apart.

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The video clip even had Donald Trump Jr retweeting it, as he labeled Strzok “the creepiest person in America.”

Via RT

One particular moment from Peter Strzok’s raucous congressional hearing left Twitter users confounded and disturbed, even prompting Donald Trump Jr to label the FBI agent “the creepiest person in America.”

Strzok faced the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Thursday to answer questions about his conduct during the 2016 investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The lengthy hearing quickly descended into a partisan shouting match, as Republicans and Democrats interrupted each other’s questions, heckling or applauding Strzok.

Strzok’s peculiar reaction to one question caught the eye of viewers and many took to Twitter to confirm that their eyes weren’t deceiving them.

Strzok’s facial expressions were also noticed by the congressmen in the room and prompted one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) accused Strzok of outright lying.

“I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk; how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert told Strzok, referring to the agent’s extramarital affair with his former colleague Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged anti-Trump text messages. Gohmert’s comment sparked vociferous objections from Democrats.

The hearing evoked a significant reaction, with many describing it as a farce. Former New York mayor and current attorney to US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, labelled it a “disgrace” and said it “taints the entire Mueller witch hunt.”

“President Trump is being investigated by people who possess pathological hatred for him. All the results of the investigation are ‘fruit of the poison tree’ and should be dismissed,” he added.

Democrats seemed to agree with that sentiment, as California Congressman Ted Lieu said it was “a stupid and ridiculous hearing.”

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