Financial Regulatory Forum

Argentine Central Bank standoff shifts to Congress

By Helen Popper

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 26 (Reuters) – An Argentine congressional commission summoned top economic officials on Tuesday as it debates the president’s firing of the central bank chief in a row over using foreign reserves to pay debt.

The commission’s decision is non-binding, but President Cristina Fernandez wants it to give its opinion quickly to end a crisis at the Central Bank that has rattled financial markets and raised concerns a planned debt swap could be delayed.

“For there to be certainty about Argentina, the commission must reach a conclusion on the removal of the former president of the Central Bank this week,” said Miguel Angel Pichetto, head of the ruling party bloc in the Senate.

Pro-government bank directors have already appointed a new interim Central Bank president, Miguel Pesce, who had been the bank’s vice president, to replace Martin Redrado. Redrado, who was barred by police from entering the bank’s premises on Sunday, says he remains president.

But even opposition leaders who welcomed Redrado’s refusal to transfer central bank reserves to the Treasury have joined the government in calling for him to step aside in order to end the leadership crisis at the bank.

ANALYSIS-Argentina standoff sharpens Brazil central bank debate

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa

BRASILIA, Jan 19 (Reuters) – A standoff between Argentina’s government and central bank has sharpened debate in neighboring Brazil over the need for Congress to pass a bill making the country’s central bank formally independent.

Brazil’s central bank has no legal autonomy but in practice decides monetary policy broadly without political interference. That has allowed its president Henrique Meirelles to pursue conservative monetary policy and keep inflation within a target range for six years. Such policy has earned him world-wide plaudits for his role in Brazil’s economic stability.

But the bank’s autonomy is still subject to political consent and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s willingness to support Meirelles.

EXCLUSIVE – Argentina eyes late Jan, Feb debt swap

By Kevin Gray and Luis Andres Henao

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Argentina is working to launch an exchange of $20 billion in defaulted debt by the end of January or early February despite a political battle over foreign reserves that has roiled markets, the finance secretary told Reuters on Thursday.

Finance Secretary Hernan Lorenzino said Argentine officials have been talking with retail investors and would travel to Europe next week to discuss the swap with holders of the country’s defaulted debt.

Argentina hopes the swap will allow it to issue new global bonds eight years after a massive sovereign default and ease tight financing this year as it confronts some $13 billion in debt payments.

Argentine battle over central bank reserves deepens

By Helen Popper

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 8 (Reuters) – An Argentine judge blocked the president’s plan to use Central Bank reserves to pay public debt and ordered the bank chief’s reinstatement on Friday, deepening a dispute that has rattled financial markets.

Moments after a court ruled to reinstate former Central Bank President Martin Redrado, he returned to the bank, waving at television cameras. A day earlier, President Cristina Fernandez fired Redrado for opposing her debt plan.

Despite the court rulings, local media said an interim bank chief was taking steps to move $6.6 billion in foreign currency reserves to the treasury. “It’s like a science fiction movie,” a central bank employee told Reuters.

Argentina gives economics ministry more say on statistics

Argentine Economy Minister Amado Boudou BUENOS AIRES, July 21 (Reuters) – Argentina’s economy ministry will have increased control over the national statistics agency, the government said on Tuesday in a bid to restore credibility to the country’s consumer price data.
But Economy Minister Amado Boudou told reporters he is not planning to replace the current price index, which the government is accused of massaging for political gain to save money on debt payments. (more…)