Chief correspondent
Helen's Feed
May 4, 2010

MetLife sees growth potential in Brazil

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Life insurer MetLife Inc <MET.N> will consider further acquisitions as it seeks to strengthen its global presence, possibly in the growing Brazilian market, Executive Vice President for Latin America Oscar Schmidt said on Tuesday.

MetLife, the biggest U.S. life insurance company, recently bought American International Group Inc’s <AIG.N> American Life Insurance Co (Alico) unit for $15.5 billion, giving it footholds in about 60 nations, including a stronger presence in Latin America.

May 3, 2010

High yields boost Argentine soy outlook

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s 2009/10 soy harvest should exceed a record 54 million tons due to bumper yields in most areas, the president of Los Grobo, one of the country’s leading agricultural companies, said on Monday.

Los Grobo provides logistical and grains storage services to farmers in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and it also produces soy, corn and wheat on some 250,000 hectares (nearly 618,000 acres) in the region.

May 3, 2010

Key political risks to watch in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, May 3 (Reuters) – Argentina is trying to
clean up lingering damage from its massive 2002 default and woo
back investors so it can sell debt on global markets and ease a
financing crunch.

President Cristina Fernandez faces rising debt obligations,
but she will be reluctant to slow spending in the run-up to the
2011 presidential election even as inflation quickens.

Apr 2, 2010

Key political risks to watch in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, April 2 (Reuters) – Argentina’s government is
trying to clean up lingering damage from its massive 2002
default and woo back investors so it can sell debt on global
markets and ease a financing crunch.

President Cristina Fernandez, whose approval ratings have
slipped to about 20 percent, faces a tight financing year but
she will be reluctant to put the brakes on public spending in
the run-up to a 2011 presidential election.

Mar 10, 2010

Argentina blames Shell, Petrobras for gas shortage

BUENOS AIRES, March 10 (Reuters) – Argentina’s government
accused energy companies Royal Dutch Shell and Petrobras on
Wednesday of deliberately causing gasoline shortages in order
to force rival YPF to raise its prices.

Planning Minister Julio De Vido said the government would
take steps to ensure the country’s oil refineries were working
at full capacity and threatened to limit companies’ fuel
exports if the shortages continued.

Mar 4, 2010

Argentina Pres. vows to push on with reserve plan

BUENOS AIRES, March 4 (Reuters) – Argentina’s president
defiantly vowed on Thursday to tap billions of dollars in
foreign currency reserves to pay debt and appealed a court
order blocking her latest attempt to use the funds.

Two days after Fernandez signed a new decree to transfer
some $4.4 billion in reserves to the Treasury, a federal judge
issued a ruling that ordered the Economy Ministry not to use
the money “in any way” until Congress reviews the decree.

Feb 11, 2010
via Commodity Corner

Beef off menus, on agenda in Argentina


If there’s one thing that gets Argentines hot under the collar, it’s rising beef prices, so it’s not surprising that surging costs at the butcher shop are ringing alarm bells at the presidential palace.
    Local TV stations are reporting a collapse in sales and some angry steak lovers have even set up a Facebook group to promote a one-week beef-eating strike. Some cuts have gone up by as much as 50 percent since the start of the year, according to local media, forcing government officials to play down the hikes as a temporary blip and blame their old enemies — the farmers.
    Economy Minister Amado Boudou has blamed recent rains for the price rise, saying ranchers are keeping their animals out grazing on the lush Pampas pastures instead of sending them to market.
    President Cristina Fernandez, who enthusiastically promoted pork as an alternative to beef by comparing it to Viagra last month, also pointed a finger at the weather, but took a pop at ranchers too.
    “It’s true, beef’s gone up. It’s gone up a lot, as has the price the farmers are getting,” she said this week, drawing an angry response from farm leaders, who said short-sighted government policy and middlemen were the real villains.
    The government has curbed exports on-and-off for years to keep a lid on the cost of the nation’s favorite food and the current spike in prices has raised the specter of fresh disruption to shipments from the country, a leading exporter.
    But as beef becomes increasingly unaffordable, some Argentine shoppers might be taking the president’s pork recommendation a lot more seriously.

Feb 4, 2010

Argentina new cenbank head vows to maintain policy

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The pro-government
economist chosen to lead Argentina’s Central Bank vowed on
Thursday to maintain current policies, seeking to calm market
jitters over her surprise appointment.

Mercedes Marco del Pont, a former ruling party deputy who
has led state bank Banco Nacion since 2008, replaces Martin
Redrado, who was fired for opposing a government plan to use
$6.6 billion in foreign currency reserves to pay debt.

Jan 26, 2010

Argentine Central Bank standoff shifts to Congress

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.

Jan 15, 2010

Argentine cenbank hopeful U.S. freeze to be lifted

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Argentina vowed on
Thursday to carry out a $20 billion debt swap despite a dispute
over Central Bank reserves and U.S. legal challenges that have
rattled markets and could make the exchange more costly.

The turmoil erupted last week over President Cristina
Fernandez’s bid to use billions of dollars in foreign reserves
to pay debt this year, highlighting persistent political
instability in Latin America’s No. 3 economy.

    • About Helen

      "Based in Argentina, I help lead our coverage of the southern cone, from politics to agriculture. My career with Reuters began in London in 2001 and I have reported from many Latin American countries including Bolivia, Cuba and Mexico."
    • Follow Helen