National / International News

There's A Whole Lot Of Waste Outside Beirut's Gates

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:00

Lebanon's stylish capital is looking shabby. Mounds of stinking garbage are piled in Beirut's streets, byproducts of an ongoing political crisis that has paralyzed the government. Angry locals have staged a sit-in outside an overflowing landfill, and waste disposal has ground to a halt. The protesters — and the trash — could be there awhile.

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During Syrian Peace Talks, Rival Sides Wage A Media Battle

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:00

Friday was the first day of negotiations at the Syrian peace conference. There were no direct talks, however. Instead, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi shuttled between government and opposition delegations in separate rooms.

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Firefighters Search The Ashes After Nursing Home Blaze

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:00

Firefighters are painstakingly combing the frozen rubble of a nursing home in eastern Quebec. The seniors' residence was quickly engulfed in flames shortly after midnight on Thursday, killing at least five residents and trapping dozens of others.

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Tickety-Tock! An Even More Accurate Atomic Clock

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:00

Scientists have unveiled an atomic clock that sets new records in timekeeping — it could run 5 billion years without gaining or losing a second. That sort of precision is not trivial, researchers say. Clocks have ripple effects for all kinds of technology, from cellphones to GPS and more.

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Which Are The Most, And Least, 'Bible-Minded' Cities In The U.S.?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:54

Does your idea of America's Bible Belt match up with a new study of where the most "Bible-minded" U.S. cities are? The top spot went to Chattanooga, Tenn. Several cities in the Northeast and West were ranked "least Bible-minded."

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IBF orders Froch fights Groves again

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:46
Carl Froch must take part in a rematch with George Groves within 90 days, the International Boxing Federation rules.

Tech on the bayou: Louisiana and New Orleans make a play for start-ups

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:45

In this post-Silicon Valley world, and especially in this slow economic recovery, lots of cities and regions are desperate to attract start-ups. Whether it’s the Silicon prairies of the Midwest, or Silicon Beach in Los Angeles, cities want their own piece of the technology pie. Add to that list: Silicon Bayou in Louisiana.

If Silicon Bayou has a center, it could be the 500 block of Capdeville Street in New Orleans’ Central Business District.

On that block is a bar, aptly named: Capdeville. Last Thursday at 5 p.m., only one person was at the bar, a guy on his laptop nursing a glass of red wine. But within an hour the place was packed.

The bartender, Myesha Dunn, helped open the bar four years ago. "Capdeville was originally a rock'n'roll whiskey-themed bar, and we evolved into this hub for this really awesome tech group of New Orleans," she says, before rushing off to pour whiskey for someone in a dress shirt and khakis.

Many of the regulars work next door, in the IP building. The first floor is home to a coworking space called Launchpad.

Inside Launchpad, Paul Teall leads a monthly gathering of video game developers. Before moving here, Teall worked for Electronic Arts (EA) on the blockbuster game Madden. He moved to New Orleans to work for TurboSquid, a company with about 80 employees.

"TurboSquid is a marketplace similar to a stock photo marketplace, like iStockphoto, or Getty images, but focused on 3D models," Teall says.

When you play a video game, or watch a digitally animated movie, every object on the screen has to be made by a game developer or an animator. Or, they could buy those objects on TurboSquid.

Teall pulls up a digital model that’s a replica of the microphone I’m holding.

"You can see the lines on it, that’s the mesh, so that’s how he built it," Teall says, pointing to a grid of curved lines that covered the microphone like elastic jail bars. The price: $199.

TurboSquid could be headquartered anywhere. But when it comes to hiring employees, New Orleans has an advantage over cities where living expenses are higher: "I feel like it was the best move I’ve ever made. I love living here," says Teall.

What is also luring tech companies to Louisiana? Some of the most generous tax credits in the country. Digital media companies can get 25 percent back on what they spend on production and 35 percent on payroll. EA built its North American Testing Center in Baton Rouge, and says it brought nearly $7 million in payroll to the state.
"I think there are businesses where you have a natural competitive advantage by being in New Orleans," says Chris Shultz, the founder of Launchpad. He also has his own startup, Niko Niko, and he’s the self-described pied piper of the Silicon Bayou.

For startups that want to develop software related to food,  music, or the oil and gas industry, Silicon Bayou is ideal. And, Shultz says, the culture of New Orleans itself is a big draw. "New Orleans serves as this creative muse for a lot of people."

At the same time, the idea of a Silicon Bayou, a Silicon Prairie,or a Silicon You Name It, is becoming meaningless, because technology is becoming a part of all businesses.

"A lot of traditional industries are becoming tech enabled,” Schultz said. "As Mark Andreessen says, software is eating the world."

To understand what happens when software eats the world, I talked to Brian Bordainick, the CEO of Dinner Lab, a New Orleans startup that built software to eat, appropriately, the restaurant industry. "Dinner Lab hosts pop-up events in about 10 cities across the United States," Bordainick says.                                                                                                

Dinner Lab is a twenty-first century supper club. Members pay an annual fee plus an additional $50-$70 per dinner, where up and coming chefs serve food in places like warehouses and rooftops.

But the whole experience is really about data that comes in the form of feedback cards. "Typically restaurants see about 0.25 percent fill out a feedback card. We bat about 95 percent," says Bordainick.

Dinner Lab is essentially a focus group. Bordainick believes the feedback his company provides chefs will help them plan new menus and take some of the risk out of opening a restaurant.

When he started Dinner Lab, several people told him that no one would fund a New Orleans start up. But he said, "we are living proof it’s not true. We had one employee this time last year, we have 50 now. We are a high growth, fast moving startup and we’re located in New Orleans."

Chile arrests men over poison deaths

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:42
The authorities in Chile arrest four ex-army officers for allegedly poisoning prisoners during the military government of Augusto Pinochet.

Pakistani Judge Orders Death For Man Who Claimed To Be Prophet

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:37

The 69-year-old British national, who had been treated for schizophrenia, was convicted under the country's strict blasphemy laws.

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Tech Week That Was: The Mac Turns 30, More NSA Rumblings

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:34

In technology news this week: Apple's iconic baby celebrated a big birthday, the debate over Edward Snowden and NSA data collection continued to simmer, and the Target data breach prompted more talk about credit card security.

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Super Bowl commercials get their own commercials

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:27

The Super Bowl is still more than a week away, but try telling that to the advertisers. Not content to wait for the big game, they’re rolling out teaser ads online and on TV. Yes, essentially ads promoting the ads.

Take this Toyota teaser on YouTube. Actor and former football player Terry Crews drives down a dusty road and encounters a seemingly abandoned painted bus.

“Anybody need help?” he calls. 

It looks pretty much like a movie trailer, which makes sense because there is a tie-in with the new Muppets movie coming out in March. But this trailer is promoting Toyota’s Super Bowl ad, coming out in the second quarter of the game.

“We want to build as much engagement before the game,” says Russ Koble, advertising manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA, “where people are talking about it with friends and family, and hopefully people are keeping their eye open for our ad specifically.” 

Ah, the magic word of marketing in the age of social media: engagement. This isn’t the first time advertisers have teased their Super Bowl spots – or even released the ads themselves days in advance, hoping to generate buzz on Twitter and Facebook. But the pre-game frenzy seems to have reached a new level.

“This year, we’re seeing more elaborate campaigns in advance of the Super Bowl than we have ever seen before,” says Tim Calkins, professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

He points to Bud Light. It’s running six different teasers, on the Web and on TV.

“I suspect when everything’s done, Bud Light would have spent as much on the teaser spots as they would have spent on the actual Super Bowl, or perhaps even more,” he says 

All told, a Super Bowl campaign can run around $10 million these days, says Justin Osborne, general manager of advertising and marketing communications at Volkswagen of America.

But that can buy a lot of attention. 

“Now all of a sudden for this two week period, everyone in America is actually interested in advertising and actually wants to watch it, and so it’s a great way for us to extend the actual spot itself,” he says. 

The strategy has paid off for Volkswagen in the past. The company’s Super Bowl ad for the Passat three years ago, featuring a young boy dressed as Darth Vader, went viral after it was released several days before the game. To date the ad has attracted nearly 59 million views on YouTube.

Volkswagen unveiled a teaser for this year’s spot this week, poking fun at the advertising mania. (Let’s just say the car is the least memorable part.) Osborne says the company will release the spot itself sometime next week.

Some companies still prefer the surprise attack. For several years Chrysler has kept mum about its plans for the big game -- and then made a big splash.

Amy Beamer with the ad-tracking website Spotbowl.com recalls last year’s “God Made a Farmer” ad for the Dodge Ram, featuring a speech by the late broadcaster Paul Harvey.

“It was a surprise, people were engaged” she says. “All that stuff was just tied up in a very neat bow and they got a lot of traction there.” 

Because -- teaser or no teaser -- more than 100 million viewers tune in to watch the Super Bowl, and Beamer says as many as half of them are there just for the ads. 

South Sudan ceasefire takes effect

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:18
A ceasefire agreement has come into effect in South Sudan although there are claims of fresh attacks before and after the deadline.

VIDEO: Bitter dispute over Bletchley future

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:15
A dispute between the owners of Bletchley Park and the volunteers who have been working on the site for years is threatening the site's future.

Weekly Wrap: Does Jamie Dimon deserve a raise?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:10

JPMorgan Chase has been in the news a lot recently, for it's fines and legal settlements. Today the bank made headlines when the board of directors approved a 74 percent pay raise for CEO Jamie Dimon. The bank announced on Friday that Dimon's total pay package for this year was $20 million.

"Look at it this way. This board has stood behind Jamie Dimon over-and-over again, if you remember when there was pressure for him to split the chairman and CEO roles," says Leigh Gallagher from Fortune Magazine. "The company is doing very well. And this is what happens when companies do well. Their CEO's get rewarded."

But, if you remember, Dimon faced a pay cut last year after criticism of his management following massive trading losses in the so-called 'London Whale' affiar.

"Here's the big problem with his big raise: It makes a mockery of his pay cut last year. Because he just gets it all back," adds John Carney from CNBC. "This is a terrible lesson for CEOs everywhere. It's like, 'Okay, we'll pretend to punish you one year, and so really all you got was a delay in your extra $10 million."

How to live off the credit card grid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:02

Your credit -- or lack thereof -- not only determines if and how you borrow money, but if an employer will hire you. If not having credit could mean not getting a job, can you afford to not use credit at all?

Michelle Singletary, Washington Post Columnist, has taken her own cleanse from credit cards in the past, and tells us how you can afford to live credit free.

“There are people who can live without credit, but they tend to be much more financially secure,” Singletary says. “They’ve already established credit at some point, and now they don’t want to use it anymore, so they already laid that groundwork.”

One big plus is you’re less likely to use money, since you don’t have readily available access to money. “Studies show when you use credit, you spend more than when you use cash. And you can go off the grid when you want to.”

But, credit is being used for many more things than getting more credit -- it's being used by insurers and nearly two-thirds of employers now use it to screen job applicants. How can you go off the credit grid and still land that next job?

Singletary says honesty is the best policy: “Just let the employer know, ‘Listen, there’s nothing going on, I just decided that I want to use cash.’ What they’re looking for is people who have low credit scores, or people who have misused credit. You have to let them know upfront.”

“Particularly if you have a government job, and you’re looking for security clearance, let the investigator know this is what’s going on … it’s the negative stuff that will hurt you.”

How to live off the credit card grid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:02

Your credit -- or lack thereof -- not only determines if and how you borrow money, but if an employer will hire you. If not having credit could mean not getting a job, can you afford to not use credit at all?

Michelle Singletary, Washington Post Columnist, has taken her own cleanse from credit cards in the past, and tells us how you can afford to live credit free.

“There are people who can live without credit, but they tend to be much more financially secure,” Singletary says. “They’ve already established credit at some point, and now they don’t want to use it anymore, so they already laid that groundwork.”

One big plus is you’re less likely to use money, since you don’t have readily available access to money. “Studies show when you use credit, you spend more than when you use cash. And you can go off the grid when you want to.”

But, credit is being used for many more things than getting more credit -- it's being used by insurers and nearly two-thirds of employers now use it to screen job applicants. How can you go off the credit grid and still land that next job?

Singletary says honesty is the best policy: “Just let the employer know, ‘Listen, there’s nothing going on, I just decided that I want to use cash.’ What they’re looking for is people who have low credit scores, or people who have misused credit. You have to let them know upfront.”

“Particularly if you have a government job, and you’re looking for security clearance, let the investigator know this is what’s going on … it’s the negative stuff that will hurt you.”

Juggling multiple jobs: Hey, at least its not boring.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:00

Workforce trends in the U.S. are transforming work-life among Americans, making people more transitory between jobs, and less settled in any single job.

 

Over the past five years, the number of Americans working part-time involuntarily, for economic reasons (because their hours have been cut or they can't find full-time work) has hovered near record highs. The figure has doubled since before the Great Recession, and now totals more than 7.5 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Meanwhile, there's been an increase in temporary and contract jobs — where you don't get on the payroll, and before long, the job's over and you have to go find something else. There are now 2.8 million temps, the highest number since BLS started tracking the category in 1990.

 

I met Jake Gerke around 12:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning at a 7-Eleven in Portland, Ore. It's in a lower-middle class neighborhood east of downtown -- a vagrant was asleep just outside the front door.

 

Gerke was working the graveyard shift -- at the moment he's working at 7-Eleven just one night per week. 

 

"I work here," he said. "I work at a place called MDC Research, I recruit for focus groups, it's a call-center. I also teach ESL. And I do data entry on the side. So there are four, for those keeping track."

 

Gerke was getting off his shift later that morning around 8 a.m. He'd have to be at the call center in a distant suburb by noon, and then expected to work through early evening — though Gerke said the employees on that shift are often let go early if work is slack. He would be napping on the bus to the call center — he said he catches some shut-eye but never misses his stop.

 

Both the 7-Eleven job and the call-center job pay just above minimum wage ($9.10 per hour in Oregon, the second-highest in the nation). But Gerke said 7-Eleven is more interesting.

 

"You can't have a conversation with somebody at 3 o'clock in the morning inside a 7-Eleven and it not be interesting," he said, "drugs, music, movies, current events."

 

His co-worker behind the counter, Mandy Johnson, chimed in as she checked-out two guys buying beer. They'd just recognized some of their friends on the front page of a tabloid that publishes mug shots of alleged perpetrators of local crimes.

 

"You could put a lot of different things on a resume from this job," said Johnson, "referee, counselor, babysitter."

 

Gerke added some more: "psychologist, bartender."

 

Gerke is 26; he left high school before graduating, and eventually finished his high-school equivalency along with earning an associate's degree from a local community college. He says this is not what he was raised to expect from work. His mother worked full-time as an accountant, for two different companies over nearly 20 years, each of which eventually laid her off.

 

"I definitely saw that if you go and work somewhere, it's going to be longer-term," said Gerke. "Things have changed in the last twenty years. That's not to say that I don't make relationships with my coworkers, I definitely do. And while it would be nice to just settle down at one job, I would miss this aspect of seeing a wide variety of people."

 

So Jake Gerke sees a social silver lining in his roving, varied, chopped-up work-life.

 

But Stephanie Coontz, a family historian at the Evergreen State College in Washington, who also serves as research director of the Council on Contemporary Families, says there's also a high social cost to these work arrangements.

 

"There's been a huge increase in involuntary part-time work and temporary work," she says. "We have a higher proportion of low-wage work and contingent work than most other countries of comparable wealth. It means that you're constantly insecure, often there's rotating shifts, you don't know how long you're going to be on."

 

Coontz says psychological and sociological research demonstrate the toll this takes on families and communities.

 

"That kind of economic insecurity is a relationship killer, it erodes good parenting," she says. "People take less notice of the good things that their partner or their child does. They're much more sensitive to the irritating things, and all of these erode family life."

 

At the very least, the multiple-job scramble keeps 35-year-old Layne Yacapin-Montrose busy day-in and day-out. Yacapin-Montrose works at a suburban gym where she's employed part-time teaching zumba classes — that's a dance-fitness style using Latin music.

 

"Wednesdays are my long days," she told me after teaching a packed class on the gym's basketball court. "I start at 8:30 a.m.—the dance-fitness class. Then I drive over to the bar, I bartend from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., then I drive back over to the gym and teach another class."

 

She teaches at two locations — at the second, she rents space and offers classes independently. At various times in recent years she's bartended, waited tables, and been a manager at the restaurant — a large national chain with full menu and bar.

 

Yacapin-Montrose is married, no kids. She says the bartending pays pretty well. But she's looking for yet another part-time job, even as she continues bartending, teaching zumba, and volunteering at a nonprofit where she teaches Hawaiian culture and arts, such as hula dancing.

 

The restaurant chain — where she's worked for fourteen years — has been cutting back on her shifts; lately she's been working there 20-25 hours per week.

 

"It's a corporate restaurant, so even though my managers love me they still have many people above them that they have to answer to," she says. "Recently like I said my hours have been cut so I just lost all my medical.

 

Yacapin-Montrose is from a military family, and even though she likes her work — all of it — she feels somehow that she's underperformed her expectations.

 

"It's a little frustrating on my part that I feel like I'm supposed to have a career," she says. "I'm 35-years old and I don't have a job that's feeding into my 401k or any of those things that I'm supposed to be doing to prepare for my adulthood. I was raised to go to school, get a job. And I kind of feel like I'm not living up to what mom and dad said I was supposed to do."

 

And yet, like Jake Gerke, Yacapin-Montrose says she wouldn't trade in her runaround life for a steady 9-to-5 job, either.

 

"I kind of like the gypsy employment," she says. "I like that roaming around. I meet so many great people in all the different places that I've worked. And I don't get bored at one place. I'm not working with the same people day in, day out."

 

None of the people interviewed for this story have chosen this style of work entirely voluntarily. To some extent, they're hustling multiple part-time jobs because there aren't enough full-time jobs out there.

 

But they've also come to think — or perhaps have convinced themselves — that they genuinely like the daily churn: the different workplaces, clients, and co-workers.

 

Maybe — if you can't beat the new economy, you might as well join it.

Legal pot businesses would love to take cash to the bank

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:00

Retailers who sell marijuana, even in states where it's legal, may have access to bank accounts – eventually. Attorney General Eric Holder said the administration may propose new rules to deter prosecutors from prioritizing legal marijuana sellers. In the meantime, marijuana dealers continue to pay a high price to operate only with cash.

Retailers of legal recreational marijuana in Colorado say business is good. Tim Cullen, co-owner of Evergreen Apothecary and Colorado Harvest Company, says while perhaps a cash-only business would work for some small companies, he’s at the point where not having a bank account is not an option.

 “We have over a 100 hundred employees. At this point, we lease six different buildings. We will pay somewhere north of $100 thousand in sales tax this month,” he says.  

There’s just one drawback to selling all that cannabis – all the cash.  According to federal law, marijuana is illegal – so banks won’t take retailer’s money.  That means businesses like Cullen’s have to find a work around.

“We use a third party that we pay pretty substantial fees to. That allows us to have access to bank accounts.”

A "third party"? Is Cullen renting a bank account? Borrowing one from a friend, with an accompanying fee? 

“I’m going to leave it at vague and mysterious,” says Cullen, “because I need to keep my bank accounts open.”

But most marijuana sellers,  notes Taylor West, Deputy Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, are stuck with cash only.

“People are literally having to bring bags of cash in to pay licensing fees, state taxes, even utility bills that can run in the thousands of dollars a month,” she says.

Then, says West, there’s the issue of safety.

“We have heard of members that have to use decoy cars and multiple people leaving at the same time and going in different directions.”

But all retailers still have to pay state sales tax. (Colorado businesses take note - February 20  is the last day you can pay taxes for the month before). And until the rules change, the Colorado Department of Revenue would like retailers to know that it accepts state tax revenue in a number of ways, and cash, it says, is one of them.

Food labels will get their first makeover in 20 years

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:00

We know a lot about our food these days – the calories, the fat, the protein that comes in a single serving of Cheeze-its. And i's all thanks to that little box on the back of the box.

Now for the first time in about 20 years, nutritional labels are getting a make over.

The FDA won't say exactly when the changes will come, or what the new labels will include. But there are some hints: easier to see calorie counts, more up-to-date serving sizes and information on added sugars.

Phil Lempert, editor of Supermarketguru.com says the time for change has come. He attributes some our unhealthy eating habits to consumer confusion over nutrition labels.

"If we can get people to understand that they are consuming too much food, or too many empty calories vs. nutritive calories, we can finally change behavior," he says.

Lempert believes new labels could clear things up for shoppers, and put some pressure on food companies.

"Food manufacturers are going to look very carefully at this, and try to take advantage of this, so their ingredients and the nutritional information becomes a marketing advantage," he says.

So does that mean we are going to see an explosion of whole wheat, tofu and kale in everything?

Ann Yaktine, interim head of the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, says to expect baby steps.

"I’m not convinced that manufacturers are going to radically change what their food products are now."

Yaktine says over the past several years, food companies have already started to offer consumers different choices.

Just walk down the 50-mile long chip aisle.

"You can see all kinds of different products. Low-sodium, low-fat, low-calorie," she says.  

More than anything, Yaktine thinks new labels will make it easier for consumers -- at least, easier to find information. We haven’t yet met a label that makes it easy to put down the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

'A slow motion trainwreck': Argentina's currency woes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 12:00

Currencies across the developing world have been sliding recently, but none more so than Argentina. The Argentine peso slid a whopping 16 percent against the dollar this week.

"Fear, uncertainty, abandonment, and confusion," are the reigning sentiments in the country right now, according to Augustino Fontevecchia, a reporter for Forbes and a native Argentinean who travels there regularly. "There’s been problems finding basic supplies from food to electronics. Inflation has led to police going on strike in several provinces, which has in turn, caused crime waves."  The government, he says, has done little to substantially address the problems.

A TRAIN WRECK

"It’s been a slow motion trainwreck," says Win Thin, global head of emerging markets strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. "Many analysts, including myself, have been predicting a crisis for several years."

2001 DEFAULT SETS THE STAGE

In 2001, Argentina defaulted on its sovereign debt. It did so in an aggressive way that left many investors displeased, says Thin. Since then, the country has been locked out of global credit markets. In other words: It can't borrrow.

That hasn’t stopped the Argentinian government from spending, however.

Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, says the government, fueled by revenue from commodity exports, embarked on massive subsidy programs: "Huge expenditures on social programs, subsidies to the airlines, energy subsidies."

During all this time, investment and productivity growth were essentially stagnant. Eventually, when the export boom slowed, “the party ended,” as Thin puts it. 

INFLATION, CURRENCY, AND ECONOMIC WHACK-A-MOLE

The spending contributed to intense inflation, reaching nearly 30 percent. When the government tried to impose price caps, that led to shortages – already exacerbated by subsidies.

"They tried to use policies that have largely failed in other places," says Inter American Dialogue’s Hakim. Each time, it created another problem.

Inflation pushed Argentinians (and investors) to convert their pesos to dollars (or other foreign currencies) to prevent their value from eroding. That caused depreciation of the currency.

"What’s happening is a flood of capital out of Argentina," says Hakim. 

The government tried to prevent more currency from leaving the country, using dollars it had earned from exports to buy its own currency in an effort to prop up its value. That was expensive, and drained the central bank’s reserve of dollars. It finally had to relax its pressure yesterday, and the currency devalued quickly. 

That made people who hold Argentine pesos even more anxious, and even more desperate to sell, which made the currency problem even worse.

All of the policies Argentinians have tried come with "some short term benefits," says Hakim. "But over the long run, they make everybody very nervous about the economy," or have unintended consequences.

TOUGH CHOICES, NO GOOD ANSWERS

"It’s a classic situation of what happens to emerging markets when policy is ineptly followed," says Keith Savard, senior economist at the Milken Institute.

"We’ve seen this play out. When people lose confidence, you have a run on the exchange rate, they try to impose capital controls to ameliorate it, and it’s an impasse,” says Savard. "Governments don’t do what needs to be done."

Unfortunately, what Savard says needs to be done – higher interest rates, less government spending, including on subsidies - would reduce standards of living and employment for Argentinians already badly afflicted with a broken economy.

"The state of denial of policy makers in Argentina is just huge," says Hakim. "They have this unwillingness to recognize how serious this is."

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