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Comment Re:Greetings from Argentina (Score 1) 294

If Argentina wanted it could ditch the argentine peso and start using dollars... that's what Ecuador did at one point. It doesn't need to go cashless for that. But it's not without consequence... it'd tightly couple Argentina's economy to the US, disabling the possibility of monetary emission and the ability to adjust exchange rates to make its products as cheap and as profitable as possible. It could fall in a similar situation to that of Spain or Greece in the Euro zone without any of the advantages they have for participating. ... In fact Argentina had its currency tied to the US dollar from 1991 to 2001 through a law that equaled the value of 1 peso to 1 dollar and the possibility to convert them back and forth at will. It ended in a huge economic crisis with repercussions we're still fighting with.

Comment Re:Do not get fooled by Keynesian arguments (Score 1) 294

For a couple of years we've had a 35% tax (actually an advance on future taxes, but it works as a tax for most people) on purchases made through credit cards with foreign currency. That added to the fact that sale of dollars in the official exchange market is heavily restricted... so normal people use three different exchange rates:

- Official Dollar (restricted): currently at ARS 8.95
- Credit Card dollar (+35%): currently at ARS 12
- Black market dollar: currently at ARS 12.65

Add that to heavy restrictions on import of goods.

All these measure were put in place by the government to lessen the outflow of dollars and attempting to balance it with the dollars received through exports.

I *THINK* that the government's understanding is that if the official dollar were high (instead of the "middle class dollar", i.e. credit card and black market) that difference would mostly go in the pockets of exporters... and we know enough not to believe in the trickle down fairy tale.

Comment Re:Greetings from Argentina (Score 1) 294

As a side note: What's "normal" for us argentinians would probably be a crazy ride on the despair train for americans... although considering the whole world americans are the exception and not the norm. ... But we've had big economic crises in the near past (the last big one in 2001) and those are have:

- Political instability: Presidencies are toppled, ministers quit, vultures circle above.
- Social instability: Constant strikes, pickets, rallies and protests of all kinds.
- Credit absolutely dissapears... it's impossible to buy anything in installments, for example. Many businesses stop accepting credit cards. Importers stop selling because they don't know at what price they'll have to buy to replenish their stock. Prices are marked in dollars instead of pesos.
- Everything comes to a standstill... companies don't spend money in any projects, no new jobs open, salaries often get delayed (getting paid 2 or 3 months late is not outside of the realm of possibility) and/or cut.

Right now we're nowhere near that. People are complaining about the way things are, sure, and some things are a struggle... but we're moving ahead at a steady pace.

Comment Re:Greetings from Argentina (Score 1) 294

We don't have wild currency value fluctuations. Go here

http://www.dolarsi.com/cotizac...

That's a graph of conversion rate from 2009 to 2015. You'll see a steady increase with a single devaluatory hike after which the line continues steadly. It's a predictable rate in tune with inflation.

The price of the black market dollar has a bit more fluctuations... but that's the nature of the beast... just like the stock market it responds to news, scares, manipulations and such. Also, there's no official source for the actual price of the black market dollar... it's surveyed in illegal exchange dens... and of course when it soars most people wait for it to go down again, so it readjusts... it normally corrects itself in a week or two at most.

Here's the graph of the black market dollar (blue line) vs the official rate (green line)

http://dolarblue.net/historico...

Also, consider that the black market is mostly used by middle class and small businesses... bigger businesses, importers and other people buying large amounts of dollars use alternate sources which follow more closely the curve of the official rate.

Comment Re:Greetings from Argentina (Score 1) 294

Tax fraud is rampant in Argentina. The government having a tight control on citizens cash flow would mean more taxes... so yes, of course nobody would accept this.

Also, Argentine people distrust banks... LOTS of well educated middle class people I know don't have bank accounts or credit cards and don't want to.

Comment Re:Do not get fooled by Keynesian arguments (Score 2) 294

In #2 I state things as I see them... I am not saying it's good or desirable... just the way it's being going.

We've had a yearly 25-30% inflation for some years now. Prices rise steadily, so do salaries, and as long as they're in sync people get by. Business incorporate this percentage in their calculations... in contrast to hyperinflation scenarios where inflation is unpredictable and everything freezes for a while. Buying in installments (with "zero interest") is a big thing in Argentina and for the last years we've been able to buy appliances, clothes or plane tickets in 12 to 24 fixed installments, which talks a lot of the trust banks have that things will continue the same.

Middle class in Argentina DOES NOT invest (exceptions exist, of course). They've been burned by banks before (last time in the 2001 crisis when there were restrictions to take money out of the bank and when deposits in dollars where converted to pesos for a big devaluation of the peso). Middle class in Argentina has two traditional places to put the money:

- Hidden "under the mattress" in dollars
- Buying property

Because of the high price of the dollar and the restrictions to acquire currency these options are only attractive to the higher sector of the middle class... Standard bank accounts don't have an interest rate that helps with the inflation, or anywhere near it, so whatever is left after paying the bills you spend... ... trips are a big thing right now... my Facebook account has been full of people travelling for the last couple of years. This is because we can pay for the tickets in installments, the cost of food and other expenses is not too far from the prices in Argentina, and you can buy technology, clothes, etc. at lower prices.

Comment Greetings from Argentina (Score 5, Insightful) 294

1 - We're nowhere near desperate. We've been desperate-ish in the past... not lately.

2 - We have a high but predictable inflation... it's impossible to save in Pesos, so it stimulates spending and the economy survives.

3 - Purchase of dollars is restricted but there's a "healthy" black market that sells at a higher but well know rate (it's published in the newspapers and there are websites that inform the black market rate as well). The government counts on the existance of this black market to keep peace.

4 - Going cashless solves nothing..!!! Your cashless bank account still lists an amount of pesos and if you want to convert them to dollars the normal restrictions apply. People taking advantage of bitcoin and other schemes are simply operating in the black market... it could be bitcoin, it could be bonds or stock.

Comment Re:This is needed (Score 1) 196

It's not blind faith since there's at least a process. You can distrust the process and that's acceptable as well... ... but web browsing security is based on a number of sandboxing and scripting restrictions which extensions can bypass. If you can't trust your browser not to perform MiM, key logging and other forms of data stealing you shouldn't use it for anything important either. Trusting the web browser is as vital as trusting the OS... Pages can be adversarial so you depend on the security brought by your browser just like software can be adversarial and you depend on the security provided by your OS. If you don't run everything as root/Admin you shouldn't use unsafe extensions either.

Comment This is needed (Score 4, Interesting) 196

This is needed because people don't realize how much exposure to malware extensions give them. Three examples:

1) "Trustworthy" extensions that get sold (with no clue to users) to shady third parties which then update the extension with adware, malware, etc. taking advantage of the userbase. Which extensions can you trust not to do this?

2) I live in Argentina, where a LOT of people use extensions to avoid regional locks of websites (Hulu, BBC) or to access the american version of sites like Netflix, which feature different shows. These extensions, AFAIK, intercept connections to certain sites and route them transparently to a proxy. This is a BIG deal, because it willingly exposes you to MiM attacks. This is something no user should opt-in into. Also, some of these extensions are funded by injecting ads into sites you access, which opens you up to vulnerabilities and exploits.

3) Some years ago there was a crazy popular site here in Argentina called Cuevana, which was a sort of free Netflix. They had a big movie and tv series database hooked to a video player that played videos stored in file lockers. This site required a browser extension to run. The extension was not installed through the Firefox / Chrome site, but rather directly from the site... still this didn't discourage anyone. I downloaded the extension and checked its source code to see what it did... it was a single include of a javascript file stored in Cuevana's web server... basically a blank check to run whatever code was there in the privileged context that extensions run in: absolute craziness.

Comment They pay for reviews... (Score 1) 88

Here in Argentina TripAdvisor has a promo where they pay for reviews with frequent flyer miles (https://www.tripadvisor.com.ar/LANPASS). You can review tourist attractions but they pay more for hotels (previously it was a condition that 1 in 4 reviews had to be of a hotel). You can win up to 1500 miles per month, which can add up to a decent amount (in less than a year it'd be a free ticket).

... It's OBVIOUS that unless they restrict reviews to hotels you visited (which they don't seem to do) that will attract fake reviews.

Comment Hackers for hire? (Score 1) 236

Why is everybody assuming that if NK was responsible they did it with north korean hackers? Couldn't have they hired russian hackers, for instance? The NK government just has to provide a money filled suitcase delivered through a third party and they have perfect deniability.

A commune is where people join together to share their lack of wealth. -- R. Stallman

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