Panics, pressures and fights: the secret story of how Macri came to the IMF a year ago

On May 8 last year, dawned with rain and storms. The trough, a low pressure system that favors the formation of clouds, had been installed a month ago in Buenos Aires. Precipitation and strong winds said the forecast, almost a prelude to what would happen to the economy in the following three months: a 75% rise in the dollar. So far this year it had risen 21% …

“Preventively,” Macri explained that morning, going to the IMF. “The greatest support will avoid a crisis like the ones we had.”

Finally, the money was not preventive. It was used and will be used. Was a crisis avoided as Macri said? Some will say yes, that otherwise the devaluation would have been higher. For others, the IMF exacerbated the crisis.

Macri’s message, broadcast on TV, lasted three minutes. Almost the same as the conversation with Christine Lagarde, a while before.

That morning, early, there was a meeting in La Rosada between the Deputy Chief of Staff, Mario Quintana, and the Finance and Finance Ministers, Nicolas Dujovne and Luis Caputo. “You have to go to the IMF,” agreed the three. They called Marcos Peña. “We’re going to tell the President,” he told them.

“Is it so imminent?” Macri asked. “If they’re convinced, let’s go now.”

The story of how Argentina came to the IMF and negotiated the agreements is a web of misunderstandings, different timings, calculation errors and opposing visions when it comes to making economic policy between Argentine and IMF officials. All this, exposed to the President.

Perhaps a sign of what would happen was Macri on January 3, 2018 when Caputo told him in Cumelén, a closed neighborhood of Villa La Angostura with houses on the beach at Nahuel Huapi: “It will be a difficult year, the markets will be They can close. I go out tomorrow to take debt. “

The investors offered to Argentina US $ 36,000 million at 5%. Caputo took US $ 9,000 million. He got more money, cheaper than a year ago and without a road show. Caputo and his two collaborators, Pablo Quirno and Santiago Bausili (now Finance Secretary), were scheduled to travel over the weekend but as Mexico moved ahead to place debt, they rushed to do the operation over the phone. A storm in New York that morning put at risk that the traders came to their offices and could start the round. Finally it was done.

Argentina was still a successful story for the markets. Macri traveled to Davos two weeks later and checked it out. But at the close of the tour, from Europe, he called Caputo.

– “How do you see everything?”

– “Think of Plan B, of the IMF.”

February arrived and in three days the S & P 500 fell 7% and the Dow Jones 8%. Wall Street hosted Jerome Powell – Janet Yellen’s replacement at the head of the Reserve – with the worst welcome to a Reserve holder in history.

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