The WSJ reports that Argentina continues to investigate new depths of denial as its price control czar tries to stop retail sales ads in newspapers:
The order, confirmed by retailers and newspapers but denied by government officials, comes after retail executives say price-control czar Guillermo Moreno pressured them earlier this week to agree to freeze prices for two months. Executives say Mr. Moreno then told them to pull all newspaper sales ads in hopes this would somehow curb inflation.Note the use of "told" there, not even "requested":
"This was an imposition, not a request. He simply decided that nobody should publish any ads. It's not sustainable and will be hard to comply with," said one retail-sector executive.The anonymous retail-sector executive is to be commended for his restraint. It's demented. Just what does Mr. Moreno think he's going to achieve? The supermarkets have already "agreed" to freeze prices for two months to "combat inflation" so what's the need driving the ban on retail ads?
Well, it turns out to be likely that it's a reprisal because the newspapers have been publishing estimates of inflation; this appears to be a sensitive topic for some reason. I wonder why? Mid-term elections are coming up in October, and the government is doing everything in its power to keep bad news and contrary political positions from reaching the populace before then. They may not be able to keep a lid on the bubbling inflation forever, but they might just manage it for six months. Once that lid pops off, though, it's going to come away with some force. The government wants to punish the newspapers economically for reporting on sensitive topics, attempting to force them to pull in their horns. I'm not so sure that's going to work as they expect though; journalists, like mules, don't like being forced to go down a track of someone else's choosing.
What happens in November? The best strategy for the government may be to release the pent-up inflation and other economic bad news, perhaps deflect some blame by having another go at the British, then hope to mount some form of economic recovery by the time of the next election. 2014 isn't going to be pretty in Argentina.