This May 9, 2019 Financial Times report by Benedict Mander provides a clue as to the possible ‘how’ of the coming political self-rehabilitation of Fernández de Kirchner:
Headline: Argentina’s Fernández fuels speculation over election candidacy
Sub-headline: ‘The young are my great bet, my great hope,’ former president tells eager supporters at book event
Argentina’s former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner stormed back into the limelight on Thursday after a long period of silence, stoking speculation over whether she will run for the presidency in October elections.
In a presentation of her best-selling book, Sincerely, Ms Fernández was openly critical of president Mauricio Macri, but refrained from announcing what thousands of ecstatic supporters outside were openly begging her to say — that she would take on the embattled incumbent in the upcoming elections.
“We are living through very difficult times,” Ms Fernández told a packed auditorium which included famous actors, musicians and human rights activists who had been waiting several hours for her arrival. “We need a social contract for all Argentines,” she added.
Although stopping short of openly confirming her candidacy, Ms Fernández’s supporters roared with delight when she greeted them after her speech and, grinning broadly, conducted with her fingers as they chanted “Cristina, president” in front of the cameras.
“The young are my great bet, my great hope,” Ms Fernández said at another point during a speech with strong electoral undertones that was watched attentively on giant screens outside by a youthful crowd that had gathered in torrential rain.
May 16,2019 by Benedict Mander
Headline:Bestseller fuels talk of Cristina Fernández’s political comeback
Sub-headline: Success of former Argentine president’s book prompts speculation of run for office in October.
It has been a good few weeks for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The ruling coalition of the man who replaced her as Argentine president, Mauricio Macri, suffered a crushing defeat in the key province of Córdoba last weekend, which further tarnished his damaged credibility ahead of October’s presidential election.
Meanwhile, her new book, Sinceramente (Sincerely), has become the publishing sensation of the year, selling more than 300,000 copies in a fortnight. Ms Fernández was given a rapturous reception at the official launch of the publication at last week’s Buenos Aires book fair.
Her return to the limelight after a period of silence has rattled Mr Macri’s government. He took office promising to bring economic competence but has been forced to seek a $56bn bailout package from the IMF. It has also panicked investors, raising fresh doubts about the vital IMF programme.
The timing of her book has fuelled speculation she is set to challenge Mr Macri in October’s vote. “The book forms part of her [election] campaign, without any doubt,” said Carlos Fara, a political analyst. He noted comments from Ms Fernández’s former cabinet chief, Alberto Fernández, that she was “closer to becoming a candidate every day”.
“No one mounts such an operation [to raise their] profile, then doesn’t use it — whatever they say,” Mr Fara said.
In office from 2007 to 2015, Ms Fernández’s penchant for nationalisation and economic controls left the Argentine economy on the verge of a balance of payments crisis, according to many economists. Now facing multiple corruption allegations, she once described herself as “a very successful lawyer” to explain how she had amassed a fortune while in power on a modest public sector salary.
Sinceramente was a “retrospective reflection” that aimed to at generate debate about how to fix Argentina’s problems, the ex-president said.
May 19,2019, by Benedict Mander
Headline: Fernández double act turns the tables in Argentina’s election
Sub-headline: Ex-president’s decision to run as vice-president is a move to win over centrist voters
Three years ago, Alberto Fernández accused his former boss, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of “distorting reality” while she was Argentina’s president, while the Peronist party to which they both belong was “pathetic” for bending to her will.
Whether or not Argentines now believe that the sharp-tongued Mr Fernández is sufficiently independent from the former president — or her puppet — could determine whether he becomes the country’s next leader.
Ms Fernández dumbfounded Argentines on Saturday by announcing that the much lower-profile cabinet minister of her deceased husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, would face President Mauricio Macri in presidential elections in October, while she would take a back seat as candidate for vice-president.
Markets are expected to take fright at the possibility that Mr Fernández, who stayed on as cabinet minister under Ms Fernández (no relation) for just a few months after she replaced her husband as president in 2007, might have a better chance of winning than Argentina’s first female president.
Nicholas Watson, managing director for Latin America at Teneo Ms Fernandez’s recent return to the public stage with the launch last month of her best-selling book, Sincerely, prompted a sharp sell-off in Argentine bonds.
She “has blindsided everyone with a totally unexpected manoeuvre that resets all parties’ strategies and alters the electoral outlook amid an already unsettled situation”, said Nicholas Watson, managing director for Latin America at Teneo, a risk consultancy in London.
Even The Economist has this report from May 19, 2019 on Fernández de Kirchner’ announcement that she will run as vice-president:
Headline: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner decides she wants to be vice-president, not president
Sub-headline: But her pick for running mate will be compliant
DAYS BEFORE she is due to go on trial for corruption, Argentina’s former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has re-written the script for this year’s election, due in October. On May 18th Ms Fernández announced that she would not be running for president, contrary to what she had signaled only days before. Instead, she said, she was asking her chief adviser Alberto Fernández (no relation) to be the candidate for the top job, and she will be the vice-presidential nominee.
“Never have we had so many people sleeping on the street, never so many looking for food and work,” Ms Fernández said, attacking the government of the current president, Mauricio Macri. She explained that her new team was designed “not just to win an election, but to govern.” The news astonished some within her own Peronist movement—another former president, Eduardo Duhalde, said he thought it was “a joke” when he first heard.
Ms Fernández acknowledged that she had not always agreed with Mr Fernández. He was chief of staff to her late husband Néstor Kirchner during his Presidency from 2003 to 2007, and served her in the same position for a few months after she came to power in late 2007. Mr Fernández is known as a wily, backroom operative, but few have any sense of his own agenda. Speaking to journalists outside his home, he said he was ready to work on solving the “immeasurable crisis” the country faces. He insisted his running mate had been the victim of the “judicial system…..a shameful process, a judicial battering.”
On what went wrong? with Macri’s ‘Austerity Lite’ The Financial Times of May 15, 2019 by Colby Smith:
Headline: How much more can Argentina adjust?
When Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri announced that he was once again seeking the IMF’s help in May last year, thousands of citizens flooded the streets in protest. With more than 20 arrangements with the Fund since 1958, Argentines had a sense of what was to come: steep spending cuts and other harsh austerity measures.
The IMF has changed its tack somewhat in recent years — Argentina’s record $56bn programme includes measures to protect social spending — but there’s growing concern that the economic adjustment built into the bailout will become increasingly difficult for Argentines and policymakers alike to bear for much longer.
Since the start of the IMF’s most recent arrangement with Argentina, which began in May but then was tweaked in September to disburse more funds faster, the country has made substantial progress in ridding itself of its major economic imbalances. On the fiscal front, the once gaping deficit has narrowed to 2.6 per cent of GDP — still sizeable, but much smaller than 2017’s level of 3.8 per cent. And on the external front, the country ran a trade surplus of $1.18bn as of March.
In the wake of these adjustments many sectors have been gutted, with construction activity plummeting 12.3 per cent year-over-year in March. Industrial production has also contracted, down 13.4 per cent year-over-year, per this chart from Alberto Ramos at Goldman Sachs:
Yet compare the above with this Financial Times May 3, 2019 essay by Colby Smith:
Headline: Why Argentina’s latest policy pivot might just work
Sub-headline: Sceptics fear that a return to currency intervention would spell doom for Buenos Aires…
With a $72bn stash of foreign reserves — roughly $22bn on a net basis — Argentina’s central bank does not have much room for error. At the same time, investors are unnerved about the possibility that former leftist president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner could dethrone sitting president Mauricio Macri in the upcoming October elections.
“In their heart of hearts, most investors believe Argentina won’t vote Cristina back in, but they will be terrified if they do,” said Walter Stoeppelwerth, chief investment officer at Portfolio Personal Inversiones.
As an antidote to Colby Smith’s optimism the reader might turn to Alan Cibils and Mariano Arana’s January 3, 2018 essay at TripleCrisis, and cross posted at Naked Capitalism. An impressive essay based in a kind of economic realism, instead of an extended apologetic offered by the Financial Time’s Smith. The concluding paragraph of the Cibils/Arana essay is instructive:
Headline: Selling Out Argentina’s Future – Again
The factors outlined above generate credible and troublesome doubts about the sustainability of the economic policies implemented by the Macri administration. While there are no signs of a major crisis in the short term (that is, before the 2019 presidential elections), there are good reasons to doubt that the current level of debt accumulation can be sustained to the end of a potential second Macri term (2023). In other words, there are good reasons to believe that Argentines will once again have to exercise their well-developed ability to navigate through yet another profound debt crisis. This is not solely the authors’ opinion. In early November 2017 Standard & Poor’s placed Argentina in a list of the five most fragile economies. It looks like, once again, storm clouds are on the horizon.
The politically wise, her enemies would call her opportunistic, Fernández de Kirchner has demonstrated her political adroitness, in offering herself as vice-president rather than as president. A political observer, with any degree of political savvy, could only marvel at this bold step, in her campaign against the failed Neo-Liberalism Lite of Macri. The question that needs asking in terms of political melodrama, a mainstay of the Neo-Liberal Press, is who will be the top of the ticket? Risk Consultancy guru Nicholas Watson articulates the vexing reality of Fernández de Kirchner’s maneuver:
She “has blindsided everyone with a totally unexpected manoeuvre that resets all parties’ strategies and alters the electoral outlook amid an already unsettled situation” …
Are the political lessons of the Trump Campaign of 2016 lost on the reporter/pundits of the respectable bourgeois press? To keep one’s opponents in a perpetual state of ‘not knowing’ , the ‘logical’ next step in that campaign was part of the reason that Trump won that election. In vulgar parlance, keep your opponents always on the back foot!