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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Argentina losing it’s boat to debtors is nothing new. They’ve been stuck in the water for decades.

  • Jan. 17, 2013
In 1913, Argentina’s per capita income was among the five highest in the world. In the interim, it has slipped to 69th place, behind most of Eastern Europe and just ahead of Botswana, Gabon and Lebanon. It’s safe to say that no other modern economy with a democratic government has made so little from so much.
This relative decline has proceeded in cyclical fashion. Policies have ricocheted between extremes, reflecting conflicts between economic interests that were all too often resolved by military coups. However, the military has stayed in the barracks since its humiliation in the Falklands/Malvinas in 1982. Nonetheless, Argentina has since been beset by out-of-control budget deficits, hyperinflation and debt defaults, even as civil society has been battered by unprecedented poverty and inequality.
In a global economy that has consistently rewarded free-market policies, Argentines have increasingly opted for a greater state role, relying on trade protectionism to stimulate industrial expansion and blaming everyone but themselves for the consequences.  Actually, in recent decades, luck has largely made up for bad policy choices. During much of the husband-wife reigns of presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, Argentina has had the good fortune to be a major commodities exporter in the midst of a global commodities boom.
Now, as commodity prices sag and the global economy seems poised on the edge of recession, Argentina has again chosen to go it alone. Imports are being tightly restricted and transactions in foreign currency are subject to rigid controls. President Cristina Kirchner’s announcement last April of the nationalization of Repsol, the Spanish oil company, suggests more of the same to come. Indeed, the question du jour is whether the ritual squandering of Argentina’s economic prospects in a show of incompetence and opportunism is about to be repeated.
Argentina became wealthy selling grain and meat to Europe after the revolutions in steamship and rail transportation in the late 19th century. Its economy grew at a blistering pace of seven percent annually between 1903 and 1913, only to be hammered by the collapse of global commodity markets in World War I. But it recovered briskly thereafter, averaging 6.4 percent growth from 1918 to 1929 on the strength of foreign direct investment and burgeoning global demand for farm commodities.
The Great Depression sent Argentina (and every other market economy) into the skids. It’s worth noting, though, that fortune favored Argentina — the 14 percent decline in GDP was modest by comparison to the 30-50 percent declines experienced by most heavily industrialized countries. And the recovery was faster: Argentina output regained its late 1920s level in 1935, and it was never forced to default on its debts.
The real divergence of the Argentine economy from other promising New World economies dates to the 1940s, to the rise of Juan Peron. Like Fascists and Stalinists, Peronists believed (and maybe still do) in top-down direction of the economy. Their single economic goal, though, was not growth but redistribution — first from Argentina’s rural oligarchy to the owners of highly concentrated urban industries protected against competition from imports, and then from industry to its heavily unionized labor force.

NKorea warns of nuke test, more rocket launches

 North Korea nuclear testing: US special representative for North Korea policy Glyn Davies, left, talks with South Korea's nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea Thursday. The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution condemning North Korea's rocket launch in December and imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang's space agency. IMAGE

AP Photo: Jung Yeon-je, Pool. North Korea nuclear testing: US special representative for North Korea policy Glyn Davies, left, talks with South Korea’s nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea Thursday. The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution condemning North Korea’s rocket launch in December and imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang‘s space agency. IMAGE
AP 5 hr ago By Hyung-Jin Kim
The country pledged to keep launching satellites and rockets and to conduct a nuclear test as part of a “new phase” of combat with America in defiance of the United Nations.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s top governing body warned Thursday that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of the United Nations, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States.

The National Defense Commission, headed by the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, rejected Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s long-range rocket launch in December as a banned missile activity and expanding sanctions against the regime. The commission reaffirmed in its declaration that the launch was a peaceful bid to send a satellite into space, but also said the country’s rocket launches have a military purpose: to strike and attack the U.S.

The commission pledged to keep launching satellites and rockets and to conduct a nuclear test as part of a “new phase” of combat with America, which it blames for leading the U.N. bid to punish Pyongyang. It said a nuclear test was part of “upcoming” action but did not say exactly when or where it would take place.

“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the commission said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival,” the commission said.

It was a rare declaration by the powerful military commission once led by late leader Kim Jong Il and now commanded by his son, Kim Jong Un. The statement made clear Kim’s commitment to continue developing the country’s nuclear and missile programs in defiance of the Security Council, even at risk of further international isolation.

North Korea’s allusion to a “higher level” nuclear test most likely refers to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which is easier to miniaturize than the plutonium bombs it tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. Experts say North Korea must conduct further tests of its atomic devices and master the technique for making them smaller before they can be mounted as nuclear warheads onto long-range missiles.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate response to Thursday’s statement. On Wednesday, after Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry issued its own angry response to the Security Council decision and said the North would bolster its “nuclear deterrence,” U.S. envoy to North Korea Glyn Davies urged restraint.

“It is important that they heed the voice of the international community,” Davies said in South Korea. He was meeting with South Korean officials on a trip that also will take him to China and Japan to discuss how to move forward on North Korea relations.

Davies said that if North Korea begins “to take concrete steps to indicate their interest in returning to diplomacy, they may find in their negotiating partners willing partners in that process.”

North Korea claims the right to build nuclear weapons as a defense against the United States, its Korean War foe.

The bitter three-year war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by the world’s most heavily fortified demilitarized zone. The U.S. leads the U.N. Command that governs the truce and stations more than 28,000 troops in ally South Korea, a presence that North Korea cites as a key reason for its drive to build nuclear weapons.

North Korea is estimated to have stored up enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to scientist Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North’s Nyongbyon nuclear complex in 2010.

In 2009, Pyongyang also declared that it would begin enriching uranium, which would give North Korea a second way to make atomic weapons.

North Korea carried out underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, both times just weeks after being punished with U.N. sanctions for launching long-range rockets it claimed were peaceful bids to send satellites into space.

In October, an unidentified spokesman at the National Defense Commission warned in a statement carried by state media that the U.S. mainland was within range of its missiles. And at a military parade last April, North Korea showed off what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Satellite photos taken last month at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in the far northeast showed continued activity that suggested a state of readiness even in winter, according to analysis by 38 North, a North Korea website affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

Another nuclear test would bring North Korea a step closer to being able to launch a long-range missile tipped with a nuclear warhead, said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“Their behavior indicates they want to acquire those capabilities,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have a robust nuclear deterrent.”

Associated Press writers Jean H. Lee and Sam Kim contributed to this report.

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“Suppose — suppose the agency said, we are really short of revenue; we will let you develop your land if you contribute a million dollars to our new football stadium?”

Oral argument audio
Oral argument transcript
Video: Clips from Jan. 15 press conference
Video: Background on Koontz case
Related blog posts

With that question, Justice AnthonU.S. Supreme Court building.y Kennedy threw a rhetorical touchdown for the cause of property rights last week, during oral argument in PLF’s latest U.S. Supreme Court case, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.

Koontz is widely regarded as one The Justices of the United States Supreme Cour...of the most important property rights cases to reach the High Court in years. And PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II argued forcefully to the justices that it’s about precisely the concern that Justice Kennedy implied:

Can the government use the land use permitting process as an extortion machine?

Can regulators demand outrageous sums of money, or other unrelated concessions and conditions, as the price of a land use permit?

The facts of the Koontz case are well known to PLF supporters. And now, thanks to national coverage of the Supreme Court’s hearing, millions of people have learned about our fight against a government agency’s attempted shakedown of the Koontz family.

The late Coy Koontz Sr. had sought a development permit for a little over three of their fifteen acres he owned in Orange County, Florida. This was after he had agreed to give up control over 11 acres of land the government demanded for wetlands conservation. The St. Johns River Water Management District responded with another extortionate demand: Mr. Koontz could get his permit only if he dedicated for conservation eleven of his acres and also if he paid for upgrades to government property miles away from his land — upgrades that could cost as much as $150,000!

Volleys of questions — and some potent points scored for property rights

Video: Shannon Bream from FOX News interviews Paul and Coy Koontz, Jr.
: Watch the Fox News Channel interview with Paul Beard and our client, Coy Koontz Jr.

At the Supreme Court, there were volleys of questions on various issues, including what constitutional theory should apply and when, exactly, a landowner should launch a lawsuit against heavy-handed government demands.

We can’t predict the outcome, but some of the most memorable statements from the bench signaled there are justices who “get it”: PLF is fighting for the right of all property owners, from coast to coast, to be free from government extortion.

For instance, Chief Justice John Roberts, said, “One of the things the [Constitution’s] Takings Clause, is designed to prevent,” is forcing “property owners … to bear the costs that should be borne by the people as a whole” — such as the cost of a football stadium (and, we would argue, expensive and unrelated improvements on the government’s own land!).

And Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to scoff at a government lawyer’s suggestion that the Takings Clause doesn’t apply to money, and can’t be invoked to stop government from picking a landowner’s pocket. Even Justice Stephen Breyer chimed in, that “of course” the Takings Clause “is applicable” in at least some land-use cases where money is seized.

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As with all our clients, donor-supported PLF represents the Koontz family without charge in challenging the unconstitutional infringement of their property rights.

A ruling by the High Court, expected by June, will have a significant impact on the Koontzes, but also for millions of property owners across the nation.

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