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Cablegate: Argentine Central Bank and Economy Ministry

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUENOS AIRES 001493

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2028
TAGS: EFIN ECON PREL PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE CENTRAL BANK AND ECONOMY MINISTRY
PREPARATIONS FOR G-20 MEETING

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 1491
B. BUENOS AIRES 1469

Classified By: Ambassador E.A. Wayne for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)

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Summary
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1. (C) The Argentine Central Bank (BCRA) is taking the lead
on preparing briefing material for President Cristina
Fernandez de Kirchner's (CFK) participation in the November
15 G-20 meeting, BCRA President Redrado told Ambassador
October 24. While not in a position to guarantee how CFK
will use the BCRA input, Redrado stressed that the BCRA was
recommending constructive positions. Separately, Finance
Secretary Hernan Lorenzino confirmed that he is coordinating
with the BCRA on position papers, but must focus on dealing
with the worsening internal financial crisis in Argentina, so
Political Economy Secretary Martin Abeles will likely be
Sous-Sherpa for the Economy Ministry. The GoA is also
seeking to coordinate positions with Brazil, to be discussed
further during the November 8-9 Mercosur summit. Cabinet
Chief Sergio Massa told a U.S. citizen visitor that he had
urged CFK to treat the G-20 meeting as a very special
opportunity to demonstrate constructive leadership and to do
so in the context of still seeking to pursue solutions with
the Paris Club and private bondholders over Argentine debt.

2. (C) Regarding the IMF's proposal at the recent G-20
meeting to offer currency swaps for countries in distress,
Redrado noted that he had pushed for no or limited conditions
for the first tranche of currency swaps to emerging market
economies, after which the IMF can ratchet up required
preconditions. However, IMF Managing Director Strauss-Kahn
announced October 29 that Argentina does not qualify for the
program. End Summary.

--------------------------
BCRA Preparations for G-20
--------------------------

3. (C) Ambassador Wayne met October 24 with BCRA President
Redrado to discuss the upcoming G-20 meeting, the GoA's
recent announcement that it would nationalize the private
pension system, and the resulting implosion of Argentina's
financial market (the latter two reported Ref A). Because
the Economy Ministry has been decimated by frequent personnel
changes over the last year, Redrado said, the BCRA has been
tasked with the lead on preparing paper for CFK's
participation in the November 15 G-20 meeting. To this end,
BCRA Vice President Miguel Angel Pesce has worked closely
with the Economy Ministry's Finance Secretary, Hernan
Lorenzino, to coordinate the work.

4. (C) While he could not guarantee that the President would
rely on the BCRA's input during the November 15 meeting,
Redrado reassured Ambassador that the BCRA and Economy
Ministry papers will take reasonable positions. Redrado said
the Embassy should consider him as a conduit to the President
on G-20 related issues, and emphasized the importance of the
G-20 to Argentina, since it is the only important forum that
accepts Argentina as a member.

----------------------------------
Economy Ministry G-20 Coordination
----------------------------------

5. (SBU) EconCouns called Finance Secretary Lorenzino October
29 to brief him on G-20 logistics and alert him that the
Summit communiqu/statement will be negotiated in advance
using both a capital-to-capital Sherpa channel and a Finance
Ministry deputy channel.

6. (SBU) Lorenzino confirmed that his Finance Secretariat has
been coordinating position papers with the BCRA. However,
while he would normally be the appropriate Finance Ministry
Deputy channel, he said he is ""being pulled in 20 different
directions"" by the impact of the global financial crisis, and
specifically by domestic financial and currency market
responses to the GoA's bid to nationalize the private pension
funds. As a result, Political Economy Secretary Martin
Abeles will likely assume the role of Sous-Sherpa during the
run-up to the G-20.

7. (SBU) The seventh Extraordinary Meeting of the Mercosur

BUENOS AIR 00001493 002 OF 003


Council was October 27, and Lorenzino said that the GoA
presented a working paper to urge the Brazilians to explore a
coordinated approach to the G-20. Lorenzino anticipates that
further coordination and discussion will not take place
during the October 30 Ibero)American summit in Sao Paulo,
but rather during the November 8-9 Mercosur head of state
summit in Sao Paulo. Lorenzino emphasized the obligation of
Brazil and Argentina to ""represent"" the greater interests of
other Latin American countries not sitting at the G-20 table.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Redrado Take On IMF's New Short-Term Liquidity Facility
--------------------------------------------- ----------

8. (C) Redrado mentioned that he had spoken on October 24 to
IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn to urge him to
consider limiting preconditions necessary to gain access to
the IMF's planned liquidity facility (which the Strauss-Kahn
announced formally October 29). Redrado said he had been one
of the first to propose IMF currency swaps (during an earlier
G-20 meeting), and at the time he had argued that many
countries with solid macroeconomic policies, but also with
current account deficits, were facing speculative attacks on
their currencies. However, he was concerned that the IMF was
going to set the criteria for access to such a facility so
tight (e.g., no recent borrowing, a current Article IV) that
only a few countries from Latin America would qualify.
(Redrado mentioned Chile as an example.) He said that during
his conversation with Strauss-Kahn he had pushed for not
attaching conditions to the first three-month tranche of
currency swaps to emerging market economies, after which the
IMF could begin to apply stricter preconditions for access to
the lending facility.

9. (SBU) Strauss-Kahn announced the IMF's new Short-Term
Liquidity Facility October 29, stating that it will offer
quick-disbursing financing for ""countries with strong
economic policies that are facing temporary liquidity
problems in the global capital markets."" According to the
IMF's release, the IMF does not seem to have accepted all of
Redrado's recommendations, because the facility will use
employ conditionality as part of the prequalification for
access to the facility, listing as eligible recipients
""countries with track records of sound policies, access to
capital markets and sustainable debt burdens. Policies
should have been assessed very positively by the IMF in its
most recent Article IV discussions."" During Strauss-Kahn's
press conference, he said the facility would be limited to a
discrete and small group. Moreover, in response to a
reporter's follow-up question on Argentina, he clarified that
Argentina would not qualify for the program. (Comment: This
disqualification is due at least in part to Argentina's delay
of Article IV discussions for well over a year. Argentina
was the only unqualified country that Strauss-Kahn mentioned
by name.)

--------------------------------
CFK and Cabinet Minister on G-20
--------------------------------

10. (C) On October 29, a prominent U.S. citizen recounted to
the Ambassador her conversations with President CFK and
Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa on October 28 and 29,
respectively. The U.S. citizen, who has a long relationship
with CFK, said the President was honored and enthused with
the invitation to the November 15 gathering. CFK said she
had communicated with Brazilian President Lula da Silva and
the two intended to coordinate closely on positions for the
meeting. The U.S. citizen commented that this was good news
as it would presumably keep CFK to more responsible
positions. CFK also said she still intended to proceed with
efforts to solve Argentina's debts to Paris Club creditors
and to private (""Holdout"") bondholders, when the
international situation permits. Separately, Massa told the
U.S. citizen that he had spent a good deal of time arguing to
CFK that the November 15 summit was a very special
opportunity to build confidence among other leaders and to
prepare the ground for future resolution of Argentina's debt
issues and develop new economic ties in the future. Massa
also confirmed to the U.S. citizen CFK's commitment to
resolve Paris Club and Holdout issues.

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Comment
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BUENOS AIR 00001493 003 OF 003


11. (C) Post will touch base with Secretary Martin Abeles and
BCRA VP Pesce regularly in coming days to get a better sense
of how the GoA plans to approach the next few weeks of
regional and international financial crisis response
coordination discussions, with a view to reducing the
likelihood of Argentine bomb-throwing during the G-20.
WAYNE

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