Argentina’s surprise move to nationalise its private pension system has put local markets into a nose dive with investors fearing a desperate government attempt to stave off default. The nation’s benchmark stock index has accumulated a loss of 23 per cent since the pensions acquisition was unveiled.
The move sent a ripple effect of fear about emerging market investments into European stocks and Asian bonds. Critics say Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez is simply trying to grab the funds which give the government 23 billion euros worth of investments.
The government says it is protecting the funds from global turmoil. There has been a mixed reaction on the streets of Buenos Aires. One pensioner said: “I want to do whatever I want with my money. I don’t want the government to force me to do what they want.”
One woman, an employee of one of the 10 pension companies involved said: “The government believes they can do whatever they want, as you can tell I am not a fan of them and even less now with the decisions they are taking.”
The bill is likely to pass through Congress and be broadly popular in Argentina where there is widespread suspicion of the privatisations that took place during the 1990s when free-market reforms swept Latin America.