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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Keeping Argentina a Secret

There was a comment just posted to my previous post about the Washington Post article. I wanted to repost it here and then comment.

Reader's Comment

Interesting article. Part of me doesn't like seeing this stuff, but I suppose it's good for BA at the end of the day, which is good. The average person attracted to BA by reading this story in the Washington Post has got to be preferable to the avergae person attracted there by reading the recent story in New York Magazine.

Buenos Aires Is No Longer A Secret

Over the last three years (but especially over the last 6 months) there have been so many stories about Buenos Aires and how it is really making a comeback -- and becoming an expat paradise. The fact is, the secret is out. I suppose you could consider me and everyone else blogging about Buenos Aires as part of "the problem", since there are hundreds of people reading this blog everyday, figuring out what a great place Buenos Aires is.

I don't think it really makes sense to try and keep it a secret though. If you look around the world at the type of people who usually emigrate, the vast majority are economically distressed people at the bottom of the society's social ladder. The well-off are not usually anxious to leave a country that's allowed them to do well. This is why you'll see countries with reactionary anti-immigrant politics as they attempt to keep out the "foreign hordes" of uneducated people who flock to a country in search of better opportunity.

Why We're Coming

What's happening here in Buenos Aires is a different animal, however. You have a lot of unskilled immigrants coming here, sure, but you also have a lot of successful and well-off people who are coming here. They're doing this not because they want to be paid more (because that won't happen), but because they like the lifestyle and the culture. I really disagree a lot with what the Argentine in the Washington Post article said about how people are coming here just for the cheap living. That is certainly a part of the equation, but by no means the main reason. If we all wanted cheap living, we could all just move to Bombay. The reason people are here is because of the culture, not in spite of it.

Argentines have nothing to fear from the expats who are coming here. Although perhaps this will be obvious to most readers of this blog, I will point out that immigration and emigration flows have long been used by historians and economists as a barometer of a country's performance and success. When a country has large inflows of people, it means it is doing something right. When there are large outflows of people, you know that things have gotten so bad that people have to leave. The fact that there are so many people from the U.S. and Europe who are flocking here is something that Argentines can be proud of.

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Blogger Dr. Pancrácio said...

Thanks for responding to my comment. I have a few thoughts, as follows:

I didn't mean to suggest that I wanted to keep BA a secret, and I guess I don't mind seeing an article like that one in the Washington Post. I do think an article like that is a bit different from a blog like yours, though (which I'll take this opportunity to compliment - I think it's very well-done and interesting), since anybody who picks up the Washington Post is likely to see that article, whereas I imagine for the most part only people already looking for stuff about BA or Argentina see your blog. As I said, I think the publicity is good for BA at the end of the day, and that's mainly for the reasons you discuss.

I agree that there are probably any number of things other than the cheap cost of living that make BA preferable to Bombay (though I've never been to Bombay and I imagine there's a fair amount to be said for it), but I do think that if it weren't for the cheap cost on living we wouldn't be seeing the expat boom in BA that we currently are. It's hard to imagine the same flocks of folks moving to BA when it was nearly as expensive as New York in the years prior to the crisis, and in fact of course that didn't happen. So I think in fact the cheap cost of living is a big draw, though not the only draw, and though I'm no expert (having visited a couple of times recently but not living there), it's certainly my impression that a lot of the expats going there now are people to whom the cost of living is a big draw.

As far as the effect that the expats will have, I think it will be good on balance because as you say I think they do tend to be people who have some skills and talent and are comparatively well off. Unfortunately I doubt BA is currently attracting expats/immigrants that are the most desirable from an economic standpoint, however - since as you say it's especially difficult to get rich there, it's got to attract less talented, less ambitious people on average than, say, New York or London. This is sort of the corrollary of the cheap cost of living being a big draw - I don't think generally speaking those folks attracted by the cheap cost of living will tend to be the most talented, ambitious folks around. All of this to grossly generalize, of course.

I hope I'm wrong - I'd love to see BA become literally the "Paris of South America" in a lot of respects (quality of life, income per capita, etc.), and I'd probably move there in a heartbeat if there were more opportunity and it were easier to earn a living in a currency that wouldn't set you so far back as compared to the cost of living in other places. I may move there anyway, because the cheap cost of living (among other things) appeals to me.

4/27/2006 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Pancrácio said...

Also, just to clarify - on my previous post, I should have said "very" most talented/ambitious, because obviusly there are any number of talented and ambitious expats in BA. I had in my the extreme, and the point was simply that I think a bunch of immigrants who go to a place for the express purpose of advancing/making money are more likely to make that place wealthier than a bunch who go for other reasons, for example a low cost of living. I think BA probably has more of the latter than the former.

4/27/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger johnny said...

I agree with Expatriado here. Despite some misgivings that portenos may harbor, an influx of relatively educated foreigners can do nothing but assist in the economic recovery. Even if they are not directly involved in the Argentine work force, they introduce more cash into the country. In addition, the culture here(I like it) could use some "broadening". The diet comes to mind right off, and there are certainly other examples. I despise the current hate mongering, immigration farce in the USA, and hope Argentina can avoid that kind of senseless, self defeating behavior, and mindset. In addition, despite all the hoopla, I think it would be a LONG time before really sizable numbers of norteamericanos descend upon Argentina. It is just too far away.

4/27/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Pancrácio said...

Yeah, I do basically agree with all of that.

4/28/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

I totally agree with El Expatriado as usual. True there are a lot of ex-pats moving here that won't contribute much to society here in Buenos Aires but the thing is that most of those types will move back to their home countries within 1 year after moving here.

So many people fantasize about this dream life here. The reality is as I've pointed out before is that it is darn hard to make money here. You really have to work hard and have a solid business to be very successful here.

Still, there are a lot of VERY intelligent, motivated and financial secure ex-pats that are moving to BA and shaking up the scene here. Many are bringing tens of millions of dollars each year into the economy and improving the way business is done.

All this will improve Buenos Aires over time and force improvements in various sectors. Many parts of doing business are like the stone age and very primative but things are changing in different fields. It will take a LOT of time but you will see that things will change for the better.

The economy is growing by leaps and bounds. Unemployment has drastically decreased, salaries have increased, there are more and more investments both in the real estate field and also business. You will see more and more of that.

More and more of Buenos Aires is becoming foreign owned and I actually think that is a good thing. You have some serious players like Ted Turner, the Sultan of Brunei, George Soros and many other gurus investing here in Argentina. Now, I am seeing more and more investment companies, wealthy individuals and families from the USA, UK, Australia, China, Canada and Europe investing here.

People often ask me if I can see the future because I called all of this several years ago. It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback now and see it's an easy call to invest here. When I started and decided to move here every single person told me who I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Now they all say I was a genius.

I will go on record as saying things will continue to improve. I see more and more brilliant people moving here not to make money (because many of them are already wealthy). They are moving because they love the quality of life and the vibe of the city.

My client was recently flying back to the USA after a trip to Buenos Aires. He told me how everyone in First and Business class around him were talking about how they didn't want to go home.

BA is a special city. The secret is out. Expect to see more and more people moving here. I still say that there are so very many areas for a brilliant foreigner to come here and compete against locals that are inefficient and become the market leaders.

I also believe you will start to see other big powerhouses and companies and hotels move in here and force local companies to improve.

I already started buying land and we just put our first offer on a large building to make the most luxurious hotel in Buenos Aires (even nicer than the Alvear Palace hotel). Guess who the people are that are buying it?? That's right..Americans....

The secret is out and I don't think that is necesarily a bad thing.....

Good luck all.

4/29/2006 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Pancrácio said...

Not necessarily surprising to hear to hear from some BA expats that there are a lot of brilliantly talented expats in BA. :)

4/29/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why Argentina should remain a secret: IT SUCKS. Check out the following link. It's an article about an argentine asshole who beat his mule so much that he's just been ordered by a judge to CARE FOR STRAY DOGS FOR 6 MONTHS AS PUNISHMENT.

Punishment for the dogs of course because that asshole will now probably beat the dogs in lieu of his mule. Makes you wanna nuke these stupid Argentines!!!!.

7/02/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol. That's like taking a child molester and ordering him to take care of a 5th grade class for 6 months as "punishment".

7/02/2006 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mad_Maxx said...

Well I'm glad I'm not the first one to piss on the parade.

Sometimes I wonder if we are all speaking about and living in Argentina!

To come and live in Argentina you need to be a person of strong character and will. It is not a country for the meek or timid. Above all it's not a "best kept secret"

It's a dangerous, not exactly stable 3rd world country where anything can and might happen.

It's amazing to me how just a few short years ago we went from economic collapse, Argentines fleeing the country, Argentines openly wondering if the military was going to take control again to Latin Paradise! Haha!

It's funny!

I wish it was like that and hope one day it is a best kept secret but it's definately not that now.

7/26/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mad_Maxx said...

Dude, from glancing at your blogs briefly, it seems to me your interested in buying, renting and selling real estate in Argentina right?

Now I'm not the sharpest person but where I come from this would be an obvious conflict of interest for someone when describing life in Argentina.

Am I right guys?

Not that i'm against you. Hey, make all you can brother, go for it.

But lets tune Argentina down a Little bit from....hmmmm...Candy Land?

7/26/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Palermo Apartment said...

BA is the business - lived there for 8months but now back in the UK.
So much to see and do...heading back soon.

6/04/2009 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Viva Uruguay: If you're going to judge a country for a stupid case, you'd better prepare not to live anywhere.

12/29/2010 05:32:00 PM  

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