Sunday, February 17, 2013

Argentina Robs From Pensions

Basically what has happened in many other countries, to one extent or another, including the U.S. That is, the government has used the funds contributed by workers into a national pension system to pay out benefits and finance programs for those that have not contributed.
The government’s row with pensioners dates back to the country’s 2001-02 economic crash, when a currency devaluation was followed by a surge of inflation. Néstor Kirchner, Ms Fernández’s late husband and predecessor, spent most of the pension agency’s scarce funds to increase payments for poor recipients. The rest got smaller raises and lost purchasing power.

... For the past five years Argentina has not issued debt to the public, because investors have demanded prohibitive interest payments. Facing a financing crunch, in 2008 Ms Fernández nationalised the country’s private pensions.

She has since turned ANSES into something of a public slush fund. In the past four years the treasury has sold the agency over $10 billion of bonds at paltry interest rates. The president has used the proceeds to fund popular projects, such as low-income housing, infrastructure and transfers to poor families with children. Meanwhile, in recent years the returns on ANSES’s investment portfolio have lagged behind Argentina’s estimated inflation rate of 25% (the official rate is lower, but is widely known to be doctored).

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