How has legislation added to a country's wealth? - The Daily Reckoning
The Daily Reckoning by Bill Bonner
On This Day - 22 March 2013
How has legislation added to a country's wealth? A  A  A

Gualfin, Argentina

"Can you by legislation add one farthing to the wealth of the country?" Richard Cobden asked the House of Commons on 27 February 1846.

The Argentines think so. So do the Europeans. And of course, the Americans.

But first let us continue with Cobden's remarks:

"You may, by legislation, in one evening, destroy the fruits and accumulations of a century of labour; but I defy you to show me how, by the legislation of this House, you can add one farthing to the wealth of the country."

Two news items yesterday reminded us how vain and treacherous the politicians can be.

First, from the Argentine press came a story with the following headline:

'Kirchner Government To Tighten Capital Controls'

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Uh oh. It's already a pain in the neck to try to keep the lights on south of the Rio de la Plata. If you move money into the country officially, you will take about a beating. Officially, the exchange rate is under 6 pesos to the dollar. But guys will come up to you on the street and offer you 8 pesos to the dollar - and more.

In Salta, for example, you pull up in front of a the corner of the central square. You beckon to one of the many money changers standing on the sidewalk. You don't get out of your car.

"How much do you want," he asks.

"I want to change $1,000," you reply.

"Then, I'll give you 8."

"No thanks," you say...shooing him away.

"Alright, 8.1."

"Okay...we have a deal."

You count out your money and go on your way. No standing in line. No need for photo IDs. Cash...and carry. Remarkably efficient. As long as you stay in the black market. You can spend your money, no problem.

But try to do business in an above-board way and you will quickly be caught in a trap. The government is running out of dollars. It tries to force you to give up dollars at less than the market rate.

Already, these controls have driven many imported products off the market completely. And now, with even stricter controls coming, it's going to get even tougher.

But what would you expect from Argentina? Is there any foot in the Argentina banking system that isn't missing at least a couple of toes? Give them a super-stupid policy...they will aim for their feet.

Europe is a different matter. Or so we thought. More sophisticated. More subtle. More careful. Run by German bankers with memories that stretch all the way back to the Weimar debacle of the '20s .

But here's another story from yesterday's news. You'll see that Europe is thinking of imposing the same capital control policies that are hobbling the Argentine economy.

    (Reuters) - Euro zone finance officials acknowledged being "in a mess" over Cyprus during a conference call on Wednesday and discussed imposing capital controls to insulate the region from a possible collapse of the Cypriot economy.

    In detailed notes of the call seen by Reuters, one official described emotions as running "very high", making it difficult to come up with rational solutions, and referred to "open talk in regards of (Cyprus) leaving the euro zone".

    "Some additional laws need to be passed. Overall we are in a very difficult situation," the official said, according to the notes. "(We're) trying to do everything within the powers to limit any unauthorised outflows."
We hope you are paying attention, dear reader. The euro feds are talking about passing laws to stop 'unauthorized' outflows. In other words, they will make it illegal for you to put your money where you want. You will need their permission to move it. They want it right where they can get it...if they need it.

They think they can pass laws and add to the wealth of the nation - or at least parts of it. And it won't be too long before Americans join in. They're already robbing savers with ultra-low interest rates. And the US has already passed laws to make it difficult to keep funds in foreign bank accounts. As their financial problems mount, the feds will turn the screws harder - just like the Europeans and the Argentines.

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Equitymaster do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site.

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1 Responses to "How has legislation added to a country's wealth?"

Sunil Agarwal

Mar 23, 2013

from prevailing global situation, it is very clear that developed countries, by pursuing borrowed economy, have reached to such a situation where there is no further money to borrow, almost zero inflation and zero interest rate, means (a) borrower wants to borrow hard saver's money for a song, (b) inefficiencies to be subsidized from efficiencies. For example in India-If whole yearly subsidy of oil sector is diverted to the development of oil & Gas sector for two years, India may not need to import crude & gas at all. Think of a situation where after 2 years, along with some curb on Gold import, India's trade balance may tern positive and $ may be available at Rs 35/- and then 30/-. We should tern the table on immediately

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