By Walter Molano
The art of expression is not a problem for Argentines.
With a fluidity of gestures, hand motions and a kaleidoscope of colloquialism, Argentines are adept at expressing any situation in a very efficient manner.
Yet, the art of communication is a serious problem for the current government. To be more specific, it is a hindrance.
It's not that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner cannot express herself. She is well-educated, intelligent and eloquent. However, she makes no attempt to deliver a message that is palatable to the international financial community.
On the contrary, since the day her husband put on the presidential sash, the international community was entirely blamed for the nation's woes.
To some extent, the Kirchners were right. However, self-alienation cost the nation dearly. While investors are pouring billions of dollars into countries that were pariahs of international finance, Argentina is forced to live within its own means.
Even Bolivia, whose president is an avowed disciple of Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian movement, was recently able to raise capital at a rate of 4.875 per cent for 10 years.
Colombia, a society licking its wounds from half a century of civil war and class warfare, just passed Argentina as the third-largest economy in Latin America.
It is true that Argentina has still been able to post impressive growth rates during the last seven years, but much of the expansion was due to the bounce back after the maxi-devaluation of 2002. The opportunity cost of not attracting foreign capital has been huge.
The country's infrastructure, particularly the energy sector, is hanging on by a thread.
Buenos Aires is looking tired and worn, in comparison to the advances that are being made in Lima and Bogota.
The Argentine middle class is being whittled away, with endless restrictions and controls. The vast universe of small and medium-sized enterprises (PYMES), that were the dynamo behind Argentina's growth story, is being decimated by capital controls and useless red tape.
Like most politicians, President Fernandez de Kirchner tailors her message to her core constituency. Unfortunately, her power base consists of the millions of poor Argentines who reside in the outer suburbs of Buenos Aires.
They are the ones who cheer whenever she spars with investors, holdouts and international financial institutions.
They are the ones who roared with approval after the nationalisation of YPF and applauded the acts of aggression against local business leaders.
Like the founder of her party, President Fernandez de Kirchner goes to great lengths to antagonise local business interests. Yet, she should also realise that her actions have the direst consequences for the poor.
By allowing them to subsist on transfer payments, she is depriving them of the initiative and skills needed to move into higher-paying positions.
By denying the country of the investment that is flowing into the region, she is preventing millions of households from migrating into the middle class.
Moreover, she does not realise that this is a fickle crowd. Just take a look at what happened to Juan Peron in 1952, when the military ousted him. His core constituency did nothing to impede the coup d'état.
Yet, it is sad to see a nation waste such a unique opportunity. Argentina has all of the conditions needed to be one of the stars of Latin America. It has the highest literacy rate, a bounty of natural resources and low levels of debt. It is one of the countries that are best positioned to confront today's global challenges, as the Chinese economy slows its rate of investment and the planet struggles with climate change.
China will consume less metals and energy as its rate of growth plateaus, but it will continue to import more grains as the society becomes more prosperous. Moreover, the drought that is plaguing North America is playing havoc with the grain markets, allowing Argentina to enjoy the bounty of abundant rain and favourable growing conditions.
Unfortunately, no one is there to tell the story. Given the government's heavy-handed treatment of the press, it is little wonder why they always see the glass half-empty. But, it is risible to see the blatant negative bias of the international media towards Argentine government policies.
Even non-events, such as the pesofication of a negligible amount of supplier debt in the provinces of Chaco and Formosa, are blown completely out of proportion, generating billions of dollars in unnecessary losses.
The oddest part is that the central bank's actions were correct, and they never imperilled the debt service of the provinces and corporates that were acting within the letter of the law. But, no one was there to set the story straight.
A handful of communiques posted on government websites were largely ignored.
Argentina has a great story to tell. The problem is that no one is interested in telling it.
Dr Walter T. Molano is a managing partner and the head of research at BCP Securities LLC. email@example.com