Justin's note: Argentina is teetering on the edge of a full-blown crisis.
Its currency, the peso, is in free fall. Inflation is skyrocketing. And foreign investors are fleeing the country.
In short, it's starting to feel like 2001 again. So, it's no surprise that the Mauricio Macri government is doing everything it can to prevent a repeat of that disaster.
It's already raised the key interest rate to 40%. It's unloading the foreign reserves. And Argentina is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure a massive bailout.
No one knows if these emergency measures will work or backfire. But if there's anyone who might have an answer, it's Doug Casey.
Doug isn't just a student of money. He's also lived in Argentina for years. So, I recently phoned him to see what he thinks about all of this…
Justin: Doug, what do you make of what's happening in Argentina? Is the government taking the right steps to prevent a crisis?
Doug: Let me start by saying that no government should be in the money business. Money is something that society should determine for itself. In today's world, it would probably be gold, some type of cryptocurrency, or some combination of the two. Remember that, before about 1933 in most cases, all the world's currencies—the pound, the mark, the franc, the dollar, all of them—were just national names for a specific amount of gold. Then governments withdrew gold coins from circulation, and would no longer redeem their currencies with anything. But people continued to use them—even though they then started dropping radically in value.
This is especially true about Argentina, which has about the worst track record of any government. They've completely destroyed numerous currencies since they went off the gold standard in the 1930s. They're neck and neck with Brazil for creating tens of trillions of percent of inflation over the last 80 years. Repeatedly wiping out their lower and middle classes in the process.
But back to your question. Argentina's central bank has just raised its key rate to 40%. And people are saying, "Oh, this is horrible, this is terrible. It's going to destroy the economy. Nobody's going to be able to borrow anything. It'll bankrupt businesses that need to borrow."
But it's actually very intelligent—within the context of what a mess the Argentine government has made of everything. They created a high inflation environment by printing up vast amounts of pesos to pay the government's bills. Government spending is mostly individual and corporate welfare, subsidies, and employees. Similar to the US, but much worse.
That puts them in a bind. The State needs to print money—inflate—to support itself. But it also needs people to save. Saving is how you accumulate capital. It's how you become wealthy. You produce more than you consume, and save the difference. In a high inflation environment, people will still produce, but they won't save because they know the money's going be inflated away from them. So they spend it as soon as they get it. And the economy goes nowhere.