Javier Milei is already in Washington. The Argentine president-elect arrived last night in the U.S. capital, after visiting and praying at the Ohel, which is the name given to the tomb of Orthodox Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, one of the most influential personalities of Orthodox Judaism, in the borough of Queens, in New York City. Schneerson, known as "the Lubavitcher Rebbe" or, simply, "the Rebbe," assumed the leadership of the Orthodox Jewish Chabad-Luvabitch movement at a time when it was practically extinct due to the murder of almost all of its members in the Holocaust, and transformed it into one of the most influential currents of that branch of the Hebraic religion. In the process, Schneerson opened more than 5,000 educational, homeless, and drug treatment centers in the United States. For his part, Milei, who is Catholic, has been considering converting to Judaism for some time.

Find out more

Argentina.

Javier Milei, the man who wants to become Argentina's first Jewish president, visited the grave of a renowned rabbi

  • Written by: TOBIAS BROWNE

Javier Milei, the man who wants to become Argentina's first Jewish president, visited the grave of a renowned rabbi

Argentina.

Milei seeks to get closer to Lula and invites him to his inauguration while preparing a trip to the United States

  • Written by: SEBASTIÁN FEST Buenos Aires

Milei seeks to get closer to Lula and invites him to his inauguration while preparing a trip to the United States

But, after prayer, comes negotiation. Today Milei has the highlights of his trip to Washington, where he will meet with representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to whom he will explain his economic plan, focused on a reduction in the size of the state, the privatization of most public assets, and dollarization. These are policies that the IMF and the Bank would have enthusiastically supported thirty years ago. But today they have no support in those institutions. One of the reasons, precisely, is Argentina. The country did not dollarize, but almost, by fixing its exchange rate from the peso to the dollar in 1991, privatizing much of its public sector (often selling it to Spanish companies), creating a private pension system, and, in general, adhering to the so-called Washington consensus, which defended exactly those policies.

The result was 11 years of relative economic stability that culminated in the largest sovereign default in history, a devaluation and the collapse of the financial system, with the birth of a new word, corralito, to refer to the limitation of the amount of funds that depositors can withdraw from entities so that they are left with nothing. In the 22 years since, Argentina has defaulted three more times, needed another mega-bailout from the IMF - which is what keeps the country's economy going - and reversed many of the privatisations, nationalising the companies it once sold. Today, the country is technically bankrupt, with no money to pay civil servants, with hyperinflation of 147% and with a currency so devalued that it is difficult for a dinner for three people at Rufino, one of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires with one of the most expensive wines on the menu, to cost more than a hundred euros.

The breakdown of Argentine convertibility came amid the collapse of similar fixed or semi-fixed exchange rate systems in Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea (1997), Russia (1998), and Brazil (2002), accompanied by defaults in the first three. At the same time, the privatization ideas of the Washington consensus did not help Latin America break out of the middle-income trap in which it has been stuck for decades, or overcome its chronic shortage of capital. Today, the IMF advocates more gradualist measures and a combination of the private and public sectors. In addition, there is a question that remains: if Argentina does not have foreign currency, how is it going to get the dollars to replace the peso?

The White House, for its part, has reacted with more than remarkable coldness to the visit. "President-elect Milei is coming to Washington, especially to meet with the IMF and the World Bank on monetary and fiscal issues. But when he's in town, he'll have the opportunity to meet with a number of people, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and others," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters yesterday. Joe Biden is not in Washington today, as he will attend the funeral of former President Jimmy Carter's wife, Rosalyn Carter, and a series of events in Colorado, with an eye on the 2024 election.

Milei has declared himself an admirer of former presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, which places him politically at the antipodes of the current White House. Washington, in general, does not have the slightest interest in Latin America, except when it comes to immigration (although some in Latin America, and especially in Argentina, find it difficult to digest) and is content with Milei or whoever to keep the country stable and, above all, close the doors to Chinese investment in strategic sectors. such as telecommunications or finance. In that sense, the U.S. has already won with the elections.

  • Argentina
  • Javier Milei
  • IMF
  • United States