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Argentina

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Argentina Country Study

***Overview*** The focus of this study is to compare the economic, financial, and political traits of the United States and Argentina. Beginning with the key indicators (see above) taken from the Global Competitiveness Report published through the World Economic Forum, one can begin to see differences in the makeup of these countries. The Global Competitiveness Report is used to show economic competitiveness and to highlight top performing countries across the globe. Using this upper-level view, it can be seen that the United States is approximately 3.5 times larger than Argentina in land mass, and has almost 8 times as many citizens. GDP for the United States surpasses that of Argentina 33 times. Primary exports for Argentina are commodities, including soybeans and derivatives, petroluem and gas, vehicles, corn, and wheat (World Factbook). These items are mostly sent to Brazil, China, Chile and the United States. Primary imports are machinery, motor vehicles, petroleum and natural gas, organic chemicals, and plastics. Imports are brought in mostly from Brazil, the United States, China, and Germany. The country's current account balance is a deficit of approximately $2.371 billion ranking the country 147 in the world. The United States exports various agricultural products, industrial supplies, capital goods, and consumer goods. These are shipped to Canada, Mexico, China and Japan. Imports include agricultural products, industrial supplies, capital goods and consumer goods. These come from China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Germany. The United States' current account balance is approximately $360.7 million deficit, ranking 193 in the world. (World Factbook)
©The World Factbook 2014

Argentina’s population is growing, but at a slower pace due to a declining birth rate (World Fact Book). Argentina is currently ranked 123 in the world for 2014 estimated population growth at 0.95%. The United States is trailing at 143 with 0.77% estimated population growth for 2014. While life expectancy continues to improve, especially for the young and the poor in Argentina, the age charts above show stark differences between the two countries. The population for Argentines seems to decline steadily as age increases, while for Americans, the number stays relatively stable until age 60 where the population begins to decrease ©The World Factbook 2014

substantially. x ***Environmental*** Argentina has many rich, fertile plains that are excellent for producing crops and other natural resources, but are also prone to major flooding. Some areas of the country are subject to earthquakes and violent windstorms. These seem mild in comparison to the natural hazards faced in the United States. The States are subject to tsunamis, volcanic activity, and earthquakes near the Pacific basin; hurricanes along the East Coast, and tornadoes in between. The western states are prone to mudslides and forest fires. (World Factbook) Due to Argentina’s industrialization, many environmental issues have become prominent including: deforestation, soil degradation, air pollution, water pollution, and desertification. Argentina combats this by taking a leading role in setting voluntary targets for greenhouse gas exposure. The United States is a leader in fossil fuel consumption, resulting in large carbon dioxide emissions and acid rain. This is compounded with water pollution from fertilizers and pesticides. (World Factbook)
***Political***
Argentina and the United States are now similarly structured politically. Argentina has been a democratic entity since 1982. The previous decades had been dominated by military regimes and instability. The country experienced rapid growth in the 1990s under the administration of Carlos Menem. From 2005-2011, the country’s GDP grew at an average of 7.6% per year. (Argentina Fact Sheet) This rapid growth resulted in high inflation rates and deflated the current account surplus. ***Risk*** Both countries have obstacles to overcome in relation to corruption and risk; however, the United States has maintained a better risk rating. Overall risk can be compared quickly by reviewing the Country Risk Tier assigned to each country. A. M. Best Rating Services rates Argentina CRT-5, the grade noting the highest level of risk, and the United States as CRT-1, reflecting little risk and a stable environment. The United States currently holds the highest credit rating, CRT-1, with Economic Risk, political Risk, and Financial System Risk all noted as being "very low." (AMB) The U.S. economy is the most advanced in the world. As consumer confidence continues to improve, the economy is expected to continue to grow. The U.S. sovereign credit rating was downgraded due to rising federal debt, but this had little effect on investors’ confidence in U.S. bonds. Political risk is low due to a stable democratic and legal system. Attempts to stimulate the economy have increased the budget deficit. The political system is seen as transparent and predictable. (AMB) On the other hand, Argentina has been assigned a risk grade of CRT-5, the grade assigned to countries with the highest level of risk. Economic and political risks are noted as being "high", with Financial System Risk labeled as "very high." Argentina suffered an economic crisis from 2001-2002, but recovered strongly through 2008. Economic risk is affected by doubts in the sustainability of the monetary and fiscal policies. (AMB). Inflation is approximately 25%. The consumer price index increased 3.4% in February alone. (Romig) Political tension runs high, thanks to labor unions that provoke protests and massive strikes. Argentina lacks transparency, leading to the belief that politicians are susceptible to influence from outside parties. The government has increased the regulation of electricity, food, and water prices, which have not helped to calm the unrest. Crime and poverty rates remain high. The political system is viewed as opaque and unpredictable. Moody's recently downgraded the country's rating to Caa1, putting the country seven levels into junk territory. (Kell)
***The Future*** The Global Competitiveness Report provides a survey depicting “problematic factors for doing business” in a country. These could be quite useful for a company trying to decide whether to expand into international territory. Argentina’s most problematic factors are listed as: inflation, foreign currency regulations, corruption, access to financing, and inefficient government bureaucracy.

The United States’ most problematic factors are: tax regulations, tax rates, inefficient government bureaucracy, access to financing, and restrictive labor regulations.

It would seem that the United States may have more “red tape” and paperwork when trying to open or expand a business, but Argentina’s troubles are much more severe. This compounded with the cyclical nature of the country’s economy and financial crises may deter a potential investor. Argentina’s economy took a hit during 2012 with skyrocketing inflation, a major drought, and growing deficit. Also contributing to shrinking confidence is the decline of public transportation that resulted in the deaths of 51 people. (Freedom House) Argentina has long taken pride in being Central America’s third-largest economy, behind Mexico and Brazil. Recent studies, however, seem to indicate that Argentina may have lost this position to Colombia. Maintaining the standing as third-largest economy has advantages, including attracting investors and business opportunities. Experts in Argentina have noted that the economy is currently in decline and continues to worsen. (Crowe and Turner) The Argentine central bank has dropped $1.25 billion of its foreign currency reserves in an attempt to maintain the value of the peso against the dollar. This will likely hurt any hopes of fighting off a recession. (Parks) It is difficult to know the state of the Argentine economy, exactly. Official figures are often skewed or blatantly incorrect. (Crowe and Turner) The economy has a cyclical motion, but appears to be related to financial crises and not normal business patterns. (Lahart) The signs seem to indicate another financial crisis is around the corner. If an investor is considering Argentina as a potential business opportunity, now may not be the best time. The economy will likely improve strongly after the recession, but a repeat can be expected within 10-15 years.

***References*** 1. "AMB Country Risk Report - Argentina." A.M. Best Company. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. 2. "AMB Country Risk Report – United States." A.M. Best Company. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. 3. "Argentina Fact Sheet." The Economist. N.p., 31 Jan 2014. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <country.eiu.com>. 4. Crowe, Darcy, and Taos Turner. "Devaluation Hurts Argentina's Regional Standing." Wall Street Journal27 02 2014, n. pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304899704579389501040961442>. 5. "Freedom in the World - Argentina." Freedom House. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2013/argentina>. 6. World Economic Forum. Global Competitiveness Report. 2013. Print. 7. Kell, John. "Mood'ys Pushes Argentina Rating Further Into Junk." Wall Street Journal 17 03 2014, n. pag. Web. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304017604579445690641258468>. 8. Lahart, Justin. "Argentina's Circular Ruins." Wall Street Journal 23 01 2014, n. pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. <http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/01/23/argentinas-circular-ruins>. 9. Parks, Ken. "Argentina Loses $1.25 Billion of Foreign-Currency Reserves." Wall Street Journal 30 01 2014, n. pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303973704579352981996560784>. 10. Romig, Shane. "Argentina February Inflation Rate Rises 3.4%." Wall Street Journal 17 03 2014, n. pag. Web. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304747404579445601972298062>. 11. United States. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook. 2014. Web. <http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook>. 12. "United States Fact Sheet." The Economist. N.p., 31 Jan 2014. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <country.eiu.com>.…...

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