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Thread: [Milei WINS!] Javier Milei, Austrian econ. prof. & ancap, runs for president of Argentina

  1. #31
    A libertarian president in Argentina?

    Self-described libertarian Javier Milei surprised the world in Argentina's presidential open primary election last week by finishing first with 30 percent of the vote ahead of candidates for the country's dominant left- and right-wing parties.

    Milei, the figurehead for La Libertad Avanza party is an Austrian economist and has called himself an anarchocapitalist and made a name for his fiery media appearances excoriating Argentina's "political caste" of "parasites." He's pledged to end the Argentina's central bank and dollarize the economy, privatize its social services, cut taxes, create education vouchers and abolish the health, education and environmental ministries. His opponents and many in the media have repeatedly described him as "far right" and "a new Trump." Latin American political analyst Daniel Raisbeck, on the other hand, paints a more nuanced picture and warns pundits not to "confuse Javier Milei with Jair Bolsanaro."

    Join Reason's Zach Weissmueller this Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern for a conversation with author and radio and TV host Gloria Alvarez and Argentine economist Eduardo Marty to discuss the election, Milei's chances of victory in a country experiencing triple digit inflation, the culture war he's fighting in Argentina, and what his rise says for the prospects of libertarian ideas in Latin America.

    Watch the stream on Reason's YouTube channel or on Facebook.

    Sources referenced in this conversation:

    Argentina 2023 Primary Results —

    WaPo: Who is Javier Milei, Argentina's right-wing presidential front-runner? —

    Opina Argentina: Libertarians make inroads in Argentina —

    Milei: My alignment with Trump and Bolsonaro is almost natural —

    Bloomberg: Milei's proposals for Argentina —

    El Pais: What's in Javier Milei's head? —

    Daniel Raisbeck: Argentina should dollarize pronto —

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  3. #32

    World’s First Anarcho-Capitalist President

    @Occam's Banana, you like and have mentioned Milei before (I like him too), a little good news to start the day. An AnCap running for prez, sounds like an Agorsist ;-)

    By Doug Casey
    International Man
    August 31, 2023

    International Man: Anarcho-capitalist Javier Milei recently won Argentina’s presidential primary. He is now the undisputed front-runner in the upcoming elections.

    The outcome took many by surprise. Milei is an outsider who bested the country’s two entrenched establishment parties.

    How did this happen, and why should anyone outside of Argentina care?

    Doug Casey: It could be the most dramatic thing that’s happened politically since at least World War II. Anywhere. Why? Because he’s an AnCap libertarian who’d like to abolish the State—or come as close as possible. If he’s elected in October, he’ll make every move possible to eliminate—not just reduce—as many government departments as possible as quickly as possible. And most people seem oblivious to it.

    Milei was in first place in the primary. Historically, in Argentina, the person who wins the primary wins the general election. There’s only been one exception to that rule. Even more encouraging is his ratings have gone up from 30% to 40% since the primary. It appears his campaign is not just a flash in the pan but a trend that’s building momentum.

    Argentina was one of the most prosperous countries in the world a hundred years ago when it was about as free as any country economically. Before Peron, the Argentine GDP equaled the rest of the continent put together. But since the accession of Juan Peron in 1946, it’s consistently gone downhill every year.

    Why might that be?

    Peron was an overt fan of Mussolini and fascism. Fascism—a word coined by Mussolini—is defined as the complete subordination of corporations and business to the State. After WW2, the word “fascism” was a no-no, so the system was rechristened “Peronism” in Argentina. It’s not a consistent philosophy; it has many mutations. It’s all about businessmen and politicians using each other, through the State, to get rich. The lower classes are made dependent, and the middle class is impoverished. Fascism has little to do with militarism and jackboots; it’s an economic system. Almost every country in the world is fascist today—including the US, the EU, China, and Russia.

    Despite the triumph of Peronism, Argentina still has the most classically liberal traditions in all of Latin America. It’s always been the most outward-looking country in Latin America. I’ve always believed it was the most fertile ground for a pro-individual liberty revolution in Latin America. Now, that may be happening.

    If we divide Argentine society into a ruling, a lower, and a middle class, it’s clear that for the last 80 years, the ruling class has used welfare schemes and lies to get the lower classes to vote against their own interests. The middle class has paid for it with immense taxes and regulations. Inflation has basically destroyed the lower and middle classes; high inflation has made it impossible for them to save and build capital.

    Milei could totally overturn all of this. The average Argentine is fed up with being ripped off. Milei’s support is greatest among the young and what’s left of the middle class. Estimates are that half the country is hard-pressed to feed themselves. They desperately and enthusiastically want radical change, and only the most stupid can’t see what fascism, socialism, and other varieties of statism have done. The main supporters of the status quo are the unions and welfare mooches. Everyone else hates them.

    International Man: Milei has called central banking and fiat currency a historical fraud. He has vowed to “burn down the central bank” and replace the peso with the dollar and whatever commodity the free market would choose as money. He is favorable to precious metals and Bitcoin.

    He has called taxation theft and seeks to drastically reduce—and eventually eliminate—many taxes.

    Milei also wants to radically cut down the size of the government and eliminate numerous departments.

    He also rejects the climate change hoax and was critical of the Covid mass hysteria.

    Doug, you are a prominent anarcho-capitalist. What is your take on the soundness of Milei’s platform?

    Doug Casey: I am totally in favor of Milei. In fact, he’s more radical (using radical in the proper sense of getting to the root of the problem) than Ron Paul was in his US campaigns. He’s as radical and sincere as my old friend Harry Browne, who ran for the US presidency in 1996 and 2000.

    Milei is extremely outspoken and vibrant. He realizes that, since the average person doesn’t understand economics and has no interest in philosophy, politics is 90% entertainment. I urge everybody reading this to go to YouTube and tune into several videos of Milei (here, here, and here).

    Milei is totally sound from an economic, political, and a philosophical point of view. But—and this is critically important—he’s sound from a moral point of view.

    He deals in basic concepts of good and evil, right and wrong. That’s something that no politician anywhere discusses, certainly not in South America. It’s the equivalent of hitting a donkey between the eyes with a two-by-four to get his attention. Everyone intuitively understands that the political class is essentially criminal—but only Milei is brave enough to say it. The average guy wants to do the right thing, the moral thing. That’s what Milei is pointing out to people and why they like him. He doesn’t use doubletalk, brook compromise, or support half measures.

    That’s why, in the US, I actually respect the Democrats more than the Republicans.

    How can I say that?

    Every idea the Democrats have is wrong and rotten to its core, but at least they’re not hypocrites. They say what they want to do. They actually believe in something, even though it’s stupid and evil.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, don’t have any real core beliefs. They don’t disagree with the moral premises of the Democrats. They just say that the Democrats are going too far, too fast.

    Milei, on the other hand, wants to overturn the moral structure that politics is built on.

    International Man: The global mainstream media has synchronized their talking points on Milei.

    It’s almost impossible to find an article about Milei—in any language—that doesn’t preface him with some kind of meaningless pejorative, labeling him a “far-right populist,” an “ultra-rightist,” or something to that effect.

    Why is the Davos class so afraid of Milei? Can he overcome their opposition?

    Doug Casey: This is further proof of how worthless the mainstream media is. They call Milei a Donald Trump lookalike, or ultra-right wing, in an attempt to scare Boobus argentinus. These people don’t deal in issues and factual programs but fear-mongering. Everywhere in the world, the chattering classes are only malevolent mouthpieces of the ruling class.

    Milei is not “ultra-right.” He’s a libertarian who believes in free minds and free markets. In fact, he’s more than a libertarian; he’s an AnCap—an anarcho-capitalist. He doesn’t believe the State serves a useful purpose. He believes that society, certainly in an advanced industrial country, can live without a government. I’ve discussed this philosophy here and here.

    His plan is to reduce the size of the government by 50% this year, 50% the next year, and so on, until it’s as near zero as possible. The horrible people in Davos hate him because he’s attacking their very essence. He doesn’t intend just to make a few changes around the edges but to transform Argentina into the freest and most prosperous country on the planet.

    In some ways, he’s symptomatic of what’s going on in the world at large today. The United States itself, in my opinion, is on the ragged edge of a civil war. Freedom and personal liberty have been retreating at an accelerating rate for years. People in the US are just as fed up as the Argentines; we just don’t have a proper firebrand. Trump is as close as we get, but he’s just a traditionalist, not a libertarian.

    Milei is cause for optimism in the world at large.

    International Man: President Nayib Bukele dramatically transformed El Salvador at lightning speed—drastically reducing crime, making Bitcoin legal money, and initiating reforms to bring business and productive people to the country.

    Although Argentina is much bigger than El Salvador, does Bukele’s example suggest that enormous positive change is possible in Argentina?

    Doug Casey: Bukele is another symptom of a possible major turnaround in the world.

    The statists and collectivists may finally have overplayed their hand. They’re just clever criminals with large followings, like Hitler in Germany and Mao in China. Only the brain-dead buy their themes. “You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.” The world is ending because of climate change. Vaccinate or die. 15-minute cities. Restricted travel. No eating meat. ESG. DEI. No fossil fuels. It’s a long litany. They can destroy civilization itself.

    People with a brain are looking for a lightning rod to catalyze change.

    In El Salvador that may be Bukele. He definitely has libertarian instincts, indicated by the fact his main economic advisor is Safedean Ammous, an AnCap. He’s one of the most important economists in the world today, along with Walter Block and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. I urge you to listen to the interview he did with me last month on AnCap principles (link).

    El Salvador is the last country in the hemisphere—with the exception of Haiti—I would have picked to turn around. It’s the most overpopulated country in the hemisphere. It’s crime-ridden, which is why he’s locked up 65,000 gang members. It had a nasty civil war from 1979-1982. It has no exports except for coffee, bananas, and poor people. Who could have guessed?

    Bukele already made Bitcoin legal tender. It’s possible that he’ll reform El Salvador in the same way as Milei will try to reform Argentina.

    International Man: What are the investment or speculative implications of Milei’s rise for Argentine assets?

    What are the lifestyle and other international diversification implications?

    Doug Casey: Right now, Argentina is the cheapest, nice country in the world. Certainly the cheapest country in the Western world.

    That’s especially amazing in view of the immense tax burden that the Argentine economy has to bear, paying huge numbers of useless mouths who detract from prosperity.

    If Milei is elected, he’ll radically reduce taxes, which means that costs of production will drop radically. As the country dollarizes, the currency will stabilize, and gold could come next. Real prices could drop further, but not because of a collapsing currency. The economy should boom economically as investment pours in. People will go back to work, start saving, and rebuild domestic capital. Argentina could quickly become, again, one of the world’s richest countries.

    What could go wrong with the scenario? The parasites now living off the State don’t want their rice bowls broken. Even though Milei has huge support from people across the social spectrum—including the lower classes who are fed up with being kept like pets by the people in the Deep State. The Deep State will undoubtedly fight Milei’s reforms viciously. I hope he has plenty of competent bodyguards around him because these people are genuinely evil, just like the Deep State in the US.

    If he’s elected, both the lifestyle and investment implications could be huge.

    Argentina has always been one of my favorite countries in the world, bar none. But if they go to sound banking, a sound currency, and disregard the rules laid down by the US, the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum—it could really be one of the best places in the world to live.

    You ought to keep in mind that citizenship is available with only two years of residency. And even during those two years of residency, it’s only necessary to spend half of the year in the country. Culturally, Argentina is more European than some countries in Europe.

    If Milei manages to wash away the socialist immorality and criminality that has corrupted Argentina for so many years, I won’t just live down there half of the year, but all of the year.

    Reprinted with permission from International Man.

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

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  5. #33
    BRICS for the win!
    On Trump:
    How conservative Republicans can continue to support this arrogant imposter—the man who brags about inflicting the world with the Covid mark of the beast; the man who said, “Take the guns first, go through due process second”; and the man who deliberately played and then set up Stewart Rhodes (of course, Stewart was all too eager to be Trump’s patsy) for an 18-year prison sentence—is truly beyond my comprehension.” Chuck Baldwin

  6. #34
    From the OP article:

    I urge everybody reading this to go to YouTube and tune into several videos of Milei (here, here, and here).
    Priceless! All 3 links are DEAD ON.

    @Anti Federalist , whatcha think? You a convert now?

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

  7. #35
    Last edited by Brian4Liberty; 08-31-2023 at 12:20 PM.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Pharma-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul

    Proponent of real science.
    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  8. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    @Anti Federalist , whatcha think? You a convert now?
    I already threw my support behind him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anti Federalist View Post
    Bariloche, here I come.
    “It is not true that all creeds and cultures are equally assimilable in a First World nation born of England, Christianity, and Western civilization. Race, faith, ethnicity and history leave genetic fingerprints no ‘proposition nation’ can erase." -- Pat Buchanan

  9. #37
    Thanks :-)

    Your first link goes to Balázs Orbán, I didn't see anything concerning Milei.

    Before I deep dive into his past record I'll wait to see what happens, whether he wins or not, and the outcome. It is encouraging that the people seem to be supportive of an AnCap.
    Last edited by Brian4Liberty; 08-31-2023 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Fixed link. ;)

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

  10. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    Thanks :-)

    Your first link goes to Balázs Orbán, I didn't see anything concerning Milei.
    Link fixed.
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Pharma-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul

    Proponent of real science.
    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  11. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post
    Before I deep dive into his past record I'll wait to see what happens, whether he wins or not, and the outcome. It is encouraging that the people seem to be supportive of an AnCap.
    What we especially need to know is whether he is currently attending a public charter school.

    Because if he is, we can conclude that he is "safe and not a threat" to the system, amirite?

  12. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    What we especially need to know is whether he is currently attending a public charter school.

    Because if he is, we can conclude that he is "safe and not a threat" to the system, amirite?

    Well, he did say that he's "not going to take any more money from the IMF....... for now".
    Last edited by PAF; 08-31-2023 at 01:18 PM.

    An Agorist Primer ~ Samuel Edward Konkin III (free PDF download)

    The End of All Evil ~ Jeremy Locke (free PDF download)

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  14. #41
    Divisiveness is popular it would seem

    (and I mean that in a good way)
    It's all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it's fitness or whatever. It's about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it.
    - Kim Kardashian

    Donald Trump / Crenshaw 2024!!!!

    My pronouns are he/him/his

  15. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by PAF View Post

    That’s why, in the US, I actually respect the Democrats more than the Republicans.

    How can I say that?

    Every idea the Democrats have is wrong and rotten to its core, but at least they’re not hypocrites. They say what they want to do. They actually believe in something, even though it’s stupid and evil.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, don’t have any real core beliefs. They don’t disagree with the moral premises of the Democrats. They just say that the Democrats are going too far, too fast.

    "Conservatism is progressivism driving the speed limit." -- Michael Malice

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  19. #46

    Javier Milei interview @ The Economist

    The Economist endorses Javier Milei.

    They didn't mean to - but they did.

    Can Javier Milei’s radical libertarianism save Argentina?
    Our interview explores his wild economic ideas—and his authoritarian streak
    The Economist | 07 September 2023

    Argentina needs saving. Annual inflation is 113%. The peso’s black-market value against the dollar has fallen by half this year. After decades of economic mismanagement, mostly under Peronist administrations, Argentines are fed up with their venal and incompetent politicians. Their dismay has helped propel Javier Milei, a self-described libertarian and “anarcho-capitalist” who entered Congress only in 2021, to become the front-runner for the presidential election in October. Even by the standards of Argentine politics, he can sound eccentric: he is said to have hired a medium to consult Conan, his dead mastiff.

    Nevertheless, Mr Milei talks a good game. He is steeped in neoliberal economics, as he displays in a three-hour interview [see below - OB] with The Economist. He wants to privatise all the sclerotic state companies, dollarise the economy and reduce the country’s deficit to zero in his first year. His political and economic models, he says, are Australia, Israel, Ireland and New Zealand. For years talk of free-market capitalism has been a guaranteed vote-loser in bloated, statist Argentina. Past attempts to liberalise have all faltered. Yet if Mr Milei wins the election next month the country could, in theory, become again a laboratory for exciting, dynamism-promoting ideas.

    [additional matter hidden to save space]
    This paper would be delighted if Mr Milei were to usher in a new age of liberalism in Argentina. However, that seems unlikely. His policies are poorly thought through. Far from building a consensus, he would struggle to govern. And if frustrated, some Argentines worry, he might conceivably turn authoritarian.

    His proposal to scrap the national currency for the greenback is superficially alluring. Other countries have done it, including Ecuador and El Salvador, and Argentina’s economy certainly needs bold reform. Dollarisation would immediately bring down inflation and end exchange-rate swings that wreak havoc on trade. But under such a system, Argentine banks and households would need a float of dollars to get up and running, which Mr Milei has no way of providing. Currently, Argentina cannot even service its debts to the IMF, its biggest creditor (it is using yuan borrowed from China to do so).

    In the medium term

    Moreover, though dollarisation would stop the state from printing money, it would not automatically restrain Argentina’s profligate fiscal policy. Politicians would still try to borrow too much, and there would be no central bank to inflate the debt away. Fiscal consolidation would require political will that Argentina has seldom shown in the past. To make matters worse, Argentina is on the brink of default, which dollarisation would make even more painful, since there would be no lender of last resort if Argentina’s central bank disappeared with the peso.

    The next president will surely have to go cap in hand to the IMF, and this is the kind of delicate, diplomatic task for which Mr Milei plainly lacks the right temperament. His closest adviser appears to be his sister. He says incendiary things about his opponents. He suggested that a former presidential aide should be beheaded. He is a fan of Jair Bolsonaro, a populist ex-president of Brazil who copied some of Donald Trump’s anti-democratic tactics. He seems to believe conspiracy theories about election-rigging in Brazil and, more worryingly, at home. Despite coming first in Argentina’s primaries, he claims he was “robbed” of 5% of the vote.

    Mr Milei’s view of history is troubling, too. His running-mate, a former lawyer for soldiers accused of atrocities during Argentina’s military dictatorship of 1976-83, plays up the crimes of left-wing guerrillas who fought the junta, rather than the bloodier acts of the junta itself. Mr Milei says “both sides committed crimes”, a line that civil libertarians do not find reassuring. Intemperate, rash and outlandish: little about Mr Milei suggests he is the saviour Argentina needs.

    This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Javier Milei’s dangerous allure"

    Meet Javier Milei, the front-runner to be Argentina’s next president
    The radical libertarian gives an interview to The Economist
    The Economist | 07 September

    Javier Milei arrives five minutes early to his interview with The Economist and cuts to the chase. “My goal is to get the country back on its feet,” he says, “so that within 35 to 45 years Argentina can once again be a world power.” Thus begins a discussion which lasts for three hours. Over black coffee with five spoonfuls of sugar, Mr Milei outlines his libertarian beliefs and explains how he would make Argentina, one of the world’s most economically vexed nations, “great again”.

    When speaking about his political philosophy, Mr Milei has the air of an eccentric academic rather than an aspiring president. He becomes particularly animated as he explains how the 2008 financial crisis turned him from a “recalcitrant neoclassicist” into an “anarcho-capitalist”.

    This philosophy, first propounded in the 1950s by Murray Rothbard, an American economist, posits that voluntary contracts between individuals should govern the provision of all goods and services in society, including education, environmental protection, road-building and law enforcement. Extending this logic, Mr Milei describes the state as “a criminal organisation”. “Because you don’t pay taxes voluntarily,” he says, “you pay them at gunpoint.” He thinks the welfare state must be dismantled because it transfers the costs of decisions to others, rather than making individuals responsible for their actions. Traditional libertarian principles, such as unfettered immigration and the legalisation of illegal drugs are “marvellous” only in the absence of a welfare state.

    Yet as someone who hopes to be the next head of state, Mr Milei says he accepts “the restrictions of real life”. Whereas Mr Milei says he subscribes to anarcho-capitalism philosophically, in practice he is a “minarchist”, a softer strand of libertarian anarchism in which the state’s only function is to provide citizens with the army, the police, and the courts in order to enforce property rights. He says that creating such a limited state would take decades.

    [additional matter hidden to save space]
    First, pro-market reforms would whittle down the size of the state. Mr Milei proposes cutting public spending by at least 15% of GDP and reaching zero primary deficit (ie, before interest payments) within his first year of government. He would do this by eliminating electricity and gas subsidies, cutting the number of government ministries from 18 to eight, replacing state spending on public works with a private bidding system, reducing federal transfers to Argentina’s 24 provinces, and scrapping privileged pensions paid to Supreme Court justices, diplomats and presidents. He promises to renounce his presidential pension. He will try to privatise all of Argentina’s 34 state companies, and to reduce or scrap most of Argentina’s taxes.

    Next, services that are usually provided by the state, such as education and health care, would see increasing doses of competition. A voucher system would be introduced in education, in which parents are given resources to decide where to send their children rather than the state transferring funds to schools. Proposals on health care are thin, but Mr Milei says public provision would move towards an insurance-based model. Both education and health care are governed by Argentina’s provinces, so in practice the extent of changes the federal government could make is limited. Surprisingly, Mr Milei says he would leave welfare payments untouched until fiscal and labour reforms have made Argentina more competitive. Trade unions are also “not a problem”.

    Mr Milei’s grandest proposal is to dollarise Argentina’s economy. Emilio Ocampo, Mr Milei’s chief dollarisation strategist, acknowledges that the country needs to have access to a pool of greenbacks in order to dollarise. He argues some of these would come from Argentines repatriating the hundreds of millions of dollars they hold abroad or pumping dollars held under the mattress back into the system. Mr Ocampo has also proposed creating a special-purpose fund in an OECD jurisdiction which would include treasury bonds, debt from the public pension fund and shares in the state oil firm. Using this as collateral to borrow against the fund is one option for raising cash. But Mr Milei says his team is looking at five alternatives that will depend on the state of the market come December, when the new government takes power.

    Paint it, libertarian

    All these proposals, says Mr Milei, would be sent to Congress rather than implemented by presidential decree. He says he will turn to referendums only if Congress rejects his proposal of eliminating the central bank and cutting down the size of other parts of the state. As pro-market models for Argentina to follow, Mr Milei lists Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

    Sceptics argue that dollarisation is unfeasible: few people want to buy Argentine debt or anything associated with it. Since 2018, when Argentina agreed a mammoth $44bn loan with the IMF, it has struggled to pay back regular instalments. It is difficult to see how it will be able to attract the $40bn Mr Milei says are needed to dollarise, especially given that he wants to do so within two years. Mr Milei is banking on the markets responding favourably to a potential victory. But after he won Argentina’s primaries on August 13th, the peso lost almost a fifth of its value, partly because of fears that it would be hard for him to govern with a minority in Congress (see chart 1). He dismisses talk of ungovernability as claptrap invented by the opposition.

    It is also not entirely clear how Mr Milei came up with the target for public-spending cuts of 15% of GDP. According to the latest official data, from 2021, public spending in Argentina represented 38% of GDP, of which two-thirds went on social expenditure such as education and health. Given the long transition that will be required to change the education and health-care systems, and the relatively small share of spending taken up by privileged pensions, some economists believe that Mr Milei will struggle to cut public spending by more than 5% of GDP during his four-year term, if he were to win. It may also be difficult to eliminate subsidies, which cost around 2% of GDP, without some form of backlash. Annual inflation is currently 113% (see chart 2). Scrapping subsidies would push up prices further, at least temporarily, and could hurt the poor.

    Mr Milei is most comfortable when talking about libertarian theory and his economic proposals. His understanding of international politics and trade is woolly at best and conspiratorial at worst. “All those who want to fight against socialism at the international level are my allies,” he says in summary of his foreign policy. He does not explicitly admit to admiring Donald Trump, but he is an unabashed fan of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s former right-wing president, who copied much of Mr Trump’s anti-democratic playbook.

    He appears to believe conspiracy theories that Mr Bolsonaro was the true winner of the presidential election last year. He also appears to think that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Mr Bolsonaro’s left-wing successor, was behind protests in which thousands of bolsonaristas stormed government buildings in Brasília, the capital, demanding a coup. In a similar vein, Mr Milei claims that he was “robbed” of 5% of the vote in the primaries in August (in which he came first).

    Mr Milei is a climate-change sceptic. His liberalism does not extend to pro-choice sentiment: were he to be elected, he would try to ban abortions. He would relax gun laws. He seems unaware that bashing the leaders of Argentina’s top trading partners, Brazil and China, may hurt the country’s trade and foreign investment. Although he says he wants to open Argentina up to free trade, he suggests pulling out of Mercosur, a trade bloc composed of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, which may soon get a free-trade agreement with the European Union.

    His ideological Manichaeism means that, in the fight against whomever he deems “collectivist”, almost anything goes, including setting aside liberal principles. “First we have to focus on the enemy, which is socialism.” When prompted to describe what occurred in Argentina between 1976 and 1983, during which a military junta killed thousands of left-wing guerrillas, he responds: “There was a war between a group of subversives who wanted to impose a communist dictatorship, and on the other side there were security forces who exceeded in their actions.” Most Argentines would consider this a false equivalence. Mr Milei’s running-mate is Victoria Villarruel, a former lawyer for soldiers accused of atrocities during the dictatorship.

    Gimme dog shelter

    Mr Milei’s inclination to divide the world into socialist enemies and everyone else suggests that he will find it difficult to negotiate with Congress, in which the left-leaning Peronist movement will continue to hold much power. He has used inflammatory language against opponents. In previous interviews he has called the centrist mayor of Buenos Aires “a leftist piece of $#@!” and suggested that a former cabinet chief of a centre-right government should be beheaded with a samurai sword. He recently dismissed the pope, who is Argentine, as “the representative of the Evil One” because “he encourages communism.” In our interview, he labelled detractors of his dollarisation plan as “brutes”

    Mr Milei is close to his sister, who manages his presidential campaign. Little is known about her other than that she studied public relations, ran a pastry business and enjoys throwing tarot cards. He describes her as “a superlative human being” who is “difficult to fit into the normal categories” because of her spiritual purity. Mr Milei says that his sister and his mastiff, Conan, which he had cloned into five puppies after he died in 2017, are “the only ones who never betrayed me”. He neither denies nor confirms rumours that his dogs advise him. “​​If so,” he says, “they are the best political analysts in the world.”

    To read the transcript of Mr Milei’s meeting with our journalist, click here [or see below - OB].

    An interview with Javier Milei
    The transcript of his meeting with our journalist
    The Economist | 07 September 2023

    JAVIER MILEI, an Argentine presidential candidate, spoke to The Economist on September 4th in Buenos Aires. The conversation, which was automatically translated, has been lightly edited for clarity.

    [additional matter hidden to save space]
    The Economist: Tell me about your intellectual trajectory. How do you define yourself ideologically and what does it mean to you to be a libertarian?

    Javier Milei: I decided to study economics when I was [...] ten years old, when [former Finance Minister Alfredo] Martínez de Hoz’s currency board programme exploded in 1981.

    When I started university Argentina went into hyperinflation. As a result of that situation I stopped playing football, which I played professionally, and I dedicated myself to studying intensively.

    The Economist: Did that hyperinflation personally mark you?

    Javier Milei: Yes, exactly. Obviously, like all Argentines studying economics in Argentina, I was trained as a sort of mixture between post Keynesians [the theory of John Maynard Keynes] and structuralists. Later, when I did my first master’s degree, which I did at IDES [Institute for Economic and Social Development], I studied different aspects of Keynesianism. And I was [disappointed] by the errors and the lack of solid explanations of what was happening in the economy.

    When I did my [second] master’s degree at [Torcuato Di Tella University] I had already become a recalcitrant neoclassicist. That is, I was a faithful devotee of “real business cycle theory.” And since everything has an end, in 2008 my worldview fell down. There I went back to re-studying Keynes and I went back to re-studying [Milton] Friedman.

    In this whole process, where I started to reconvert and to reconsider what I was doing, I basically decided to dedicate myself ultra-intensively to the study of economic growth in order to detach myself from the situation at that moment.

    And I was quite happy with that until I came across the Angus Madison series, which basically shows, when you look at the GDP per capita between the year zero of the Christian era and the year 2000 it has the shape of a hockey stick. Between the year zero and the year 1800 GDP per capita only grows around 50%; but in the last 200 years, between 1800 and 2000, it multiplies nine times. And this is happening in a context where the population has almost multiplied by seven.

    So that implies the presence of increasing returns in microeconomic terms. That means that you have a concentrated market structure. And, according to conventional economic theory, that would be bad. And yet it is a situation where not only the quality and quantity of goods and services that we had made the average individual on the planet live better than how emperors and pharaohs and kings had lived, but extreme poverty went from 95% to about 10% in that period. So how can neoclassical theory describe that as a bad thing, or call it market failure?

    After that, a person from my team handed me an article by Murray Rothbard called “Monopoly and Competition,” an article of about 150 pages. After three hours, when I finished reading it, and after teaching microeconomics for about 25 years, I said: everything I taught in the last 25 years on market structures is wrong. And that’s when I started to convert to the Austrian school [of economics] and, reading Rothbard, I became an anarcho-capitalist.

    The Economist: What does it mean to be an anarcho-capitalist?

    Javier Milei: You are a liberal, in fact the definition we work with is that of Alberto Benegas Lynch Jr., which is: “liberalism is the unrestricted respect for the life project of others, based on the principle of non-aggression and in defense of the right to life, liberty and property”.

    And in that context, you understand the state as a criminal organisation. Because you don’t pay taxes voluntarily, you pay them at gunpoint.

    So there is a discussion of a moral nature, I would say, about rejecting violence, about rejecting the advance [of the state] on property. The state finances itself with taxes, and taxes [the Spanish word for tax means ‘imposed’], clearly are called that way because they are not voluntary. So the state is an apparatus of coercion which has a monopoly of force. And like everything that has a monopoly of a legal nature, it always ends up causing damage.

    So we understand the state as a criminal organisation, a violent organisation that lives by stealing from honest people. And [we believe that] society functions much better without a state than with a state, I mean, on an ideal level.

    The Economist: Is there an example of any society in history that has functioned in this way?

    Javier Milei: Look, strictly speaking there is no such thing. But that does not mean that you cannot look at it as a normative framework. That is why I clarify that it is a normative framework.

    I believe that as time goes by, technology will allow us to move towards a free society.

    In reality, what is the state at its core? It is the failure of human beings to be able to live together in peace. And that is why the state appears. Those societies that are unable to coexist in peace need the state to arbitrate.

    So, in a society which evolves and where technology allows it, there is clearly a greater chance of approaching the ideal of anarcho-capitalism.

    The fact that it does not exist does not mean that you cannot allow yourself to think about it.

    You can think of the state in different ways. One is as an insurance–as a matter of fact, I think of it that way. And as such, it is a transitory solution to markets that may not exist yet (with a lot of risk, because there is always the temptation for politicians to expand the State). But if the starting point [is the ambition to get rid of the State], and you have a State, it does not generate conflict because you are working to make society look more like a free society.

    Those societies that are free are eight times richer than repressed ones. In free societies, those in the lowest decile are 11 times better off than their peers in repressed countries. They have double the income of the median income of repressed countries and that implies that they are above 90% of the population of repressed countries. They have 25 times fewer poor people and 50 times fewer extremely poor people. In addition, people in open economies live 25% longer.

    Therefore, the more you move towards a free system, the better the quality of life.

    The Economist: When you say that technology can help us move towards an anarcho-capitalist society, what kind of technology are you thinking of, the technology we have today?

    Javier Milei: No, [it would be] a technology that evolves and which allows functions that today are performed by the State to be solved technologically without violating the right to property and without violating freedom.

    The Economist: Can you give me an example?

    Javier Milei: I would have to elaborate, we would have to think about it, I mean I don’t have...but security issues could probably be solved in a better way with intelligent technologies and without so much interference from the State.

    The Economist: But someone would have to be in charge of these technologies right?

    Javier Milei: But it is always better to do it in a regime of competition than in a violent regime. In an anarcho-capitalist society that is solved via the individuals and ultimately, by the market. On the other hand, the state solution is to do it the violent way. And the violent way can never be better than the voluntary way.

    In reality all the doubts that are raised about free enterprise or the free market system are really because those who make the criticisms do not believe in individuals, they do not believe in freedom.

    And they also have the fatal arrogance of believing that they are superior to the rest, so as to determine how things should be and how human beings should act, even above the decision that the fellow human himself could make.

    Implicitly, there is an enormous degree of collectivism there, and if that were true and you took it to the extreme, you would find yourself with communism. And the truth is that wherever communism has been applied it has been an economic, social, and cultural failure and it has also killed 150m human beings.

    Therefore, I have the feeling that people find it hard to think outside the box. And since the state exists, the state uses the resources it steals from us via taxes to wash our heads and make us believe that the state is useful, when in fact the state is only destruction.

    The Economist: Your vision has a strong moral component

    Javier Milei: [Raising voice] It is absolutely moral! It is essentially moral! It is to reject violence. The state is the institutional manifestation of violence.

    The Economist: Are you in favour of the legalisation of sex work, the consumption and sale of drugs and free immigration?

    Javier Milei: It really depends on whether you have a welfare state or not. Because if you have a welfare state, the problem lies in who pays the bill.

    I have no problem whatsoever with you making the decisions you feel like making. Unless you make me pay the costs. And that is what the welfare state does to you.

    So all these discussions usually require you to divide up the answer, in a cursed way or to create what is called the straw man fallacy. But in reality the answer always depends on whether or not there is a welfare state.

    The best example was given by Friedman, a classical liberal. He thinks there are three types of liberals. There are the classical ones; the minarchists, which is what I am in real life; and the anarchists or anarcho-capitalists, which is what I am philosophically.

    Minarchists believe in the minimal state [which exists] only for security and justice.

    So, for example [Ludwig von] Mises is a minarchist. [Friedrich] Hayek oscillates between a minarchist and a classical [liberal], Adam Smith is a classical liberal. [Robert] Nozick is a minarchist, Ayn Rand is a minarchist. [Murray Newton] Rothbard, [Walter] Block or [Hans-Hermann] Hoppe are anarcho-capitalists.

    Notice that Friedman, when asked about immigration, says “well, it depends.” And the journalist says “What do you mean it depends, if you are a Polish Jew? Meaning you were received here” [in the United States.] And [Friedman replies] “Yes, but there was no welfare state.”

    When there is no welfare state then the system is free. Free immigration is wonderful, it is fabulous. But when you have a welfare state, and a part of society is paying for the welfare state, and someone else comes to use it without paying for it, it generates the free-rider problem. And [that’s when] you say stop! I think that’s actually the best explanation you have for Brexit. That is, the explanation of Brexit, which surprised many people, [it would not have surprised them] if they had been able to read Friedman, they would have understood it.

    And that applies to everything [...] Sometimes I also see with great dismay what some anarcho-capitalists do. They give opinions without contemplating the restrictions of real life. That is to say, you cannot ignore the existence of the state. So you cannot make recommendations ignoring the restrictions that exist [...].

    But that is something one has to deal with [...] I am criticised by some anarcho-capitalists because they do not incorporate restrictions. You have different types of restrictions: there is one called “conditions of state,” that is to say: life is what it is. So I cannot make recommendations about a world that does not exist, especially being a politician and proposing policies. Inexorably I have to incorporate in my analysis the restrictions of the conditions of state [...] The world is what it is.

    I could say “you know what, I’d like this table to be oval.” But it’s not oval, it’s square. And well, what do we do? It’s not the case that I’m going to say “Ah but because it’s not oval, I won’t do the interview.” No, we do the interview anyway, if the table is square we adapt [...]. Do you understand what I’m saying?

    Well, many anarcho-capitalists criticise without contemplating the restrictions. And then there are more restrictions, which you realise when you are inside, which are the restrictions of politics. Some you can accept, others you cannot, and still others you accept in the short term but with the intention of lifting them in the long term [...].

    I have a vision of the world and that marks where I want to go. But the world is what it is, so I have to act with these restrictions and try to do what most resembles my ideal world. Some people don’t understand that and well, that’s part of life.

    The Economist: So before legalising the consumption and sale of drugs, for example, you have to dismantle the welfare state.

    Javier Milei: Yes, you have to dismantle the welfare state. That is to say, in order to make fully free solutions, you cannot have a welfare state that transfers the costs of decisions to others. For there to be a system of full freedom you have to internalise the costs of your actions–that’s the Hayek phrase: “freedom also entails responsibility.”

    The Economist: Traditional libertarianism in the US has a different agenda than that of populist right-wing leaders like former President Donald Trump. While libertarians are generally in favour of open borders and the free sale of sex or drugs, Trumpists and bolsonaristas have a very strong religious base and oppose free immigration and the legalisation of drugs. Yet you have aligned yourself with them. How does your vision differ from that of right-wing populist governments?

    Javier Milei: First, to speak of right-wing populism, at least in Argentina, does not make sense. Because they label as right-wing populist those who question the existence of the state. The reality is that, given Argentina’s failure, instead of labelling people right-wing populists, politicians should realise that they are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

    If I do my job badly for six months, I get fired from my job. These people have been failing for 40 years and they want to continue to be there.

    So the definition of right-wing populism is debatable. Unlike other types of populism, let’s say more left-wing [populism], you have [in libertarianism] a moral foundation [because] you want to eliminate the generalised apparatus of coercion, which is the state. So there is a moral question. What happens is that this bothers the politicians who live off the state. So they need to put a negative label on it to scare people away. For me, anyone who wants to shrink the state is a hero.

    [...] In any place, I am in favour of whoever fights against statism.

    The Economist: Do you admire Donald Trump?

    Javier Milei: I, let’s say...I mean...what I can say is that there is an alignment with all those who are willing to fight against socialism at the international level.

    All those who want to fight against socialism at the international level are my allies.

    Because the enemy is socialism, the enemy is statism, the enemy is collectivism. And all those who are willing to fight that fight, we are all together.

    Later we will discuss the emerging order, whether it will be more or less liberal, whether it will resemble classical liberalism or minarchism or anarcho-capitalism, but that is a second order discussion. First we have to counteract the advance of the enemy, which has been very successful since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and since efforts made by the São Paulo Forum [a conference of left-wing Latin America political parties launched in 1990].

    Those are the enemies: the São Paulo Forum, [and] today [also the] Puebla Group [a forum of left-wing Latin American politicians]. Because they are the enemies of the free society, they are the impoverishers. Because socialism is, always and everywhere, an impoverishing phenomenon. Moreover, it is violent and murderous.

    The Economist: In the United States, who are the socialists?

    Javier Milei: Bernie Sanders is clearly a socialist. That is, he is the most obvious one.

    The Economist: What about President Biden?

    Javier Milei: [Pauses] The Democratic Party is a lite socialism. [...] These are levels of intervention that are not the ones that map with my preferences.

    The Economist: What do you think of [President Viktor Orbán]?

    Javier Milei: You mean the person in Hungary? I have not studied his case. But I understand that he is also aligned against the collectivists.

    Again, there are strategic alliances–if you want short term, and later we can discuss other issues–but first let’s say, we have to focus on the enemy, which is socialism, the enemy is statism, the enemy is collectivism. That is the first big battle, then other discussions will follow where everyone will have different [characteristics].

    It’s like, put in Friedman’s terminology, all the liberals, let’s say, we have to go and fight against the collectivists. You know what I mean? Once that’s settled, that debate, then we can move on to discuss “what kind of liberalism.”

    The Economist: So in today’s world who would be your allies?

    Well...the allies are those who are willing to fight against socialism. I don’t discriminate. All those who want to fact, in CPAC [the Conservative Political Action Conference], that’s exactly our vision.

    The Economist: You have few allies in the region right now

    Javier Milei: I don’t care.

    The other day they came to me with that fallacy of “Every country in the world has central banks.” That is called the ad populum fallacy. If I were to think in those terms, imagine: in the year 1813, when [what was to become] Argentina made progress on the abolition of slavery, those same people who say that there must be a central bank because it exists in the rest of the world would have said that slavery should be maintained. And yet, it does not seem to me that it was a good idea to maintain slavery, right? So I don’t care if there are many or few.

    When I started defending the ideas of liberty in the media [around 2013], if I had looked at a Focus Group, I would have been a socialist. And yet I decided to defend the ideas of liberty. When I went on television at that time, they called you a liberal as an insult. And yet, I didn’t care, I went and put up a fight. I had to fight against 15, 16 people on the panels. And I didn’t give up, I kept fighting.

    And today we are facing an unprecedented situation in Argentine history, which is that an outsider with an outsider structure (because many outsiders use existing structures, whereas we also created our own structure, that is, we are outsider-outsider), we beat the two main forces that dominated politics in the 20th century and so far in the 21st century, and we beat both of them.

    So it seems to me that we are facing a new situation and it fills us with hope to see the whole map [of Argentina] painted in purple. We won in 16 of 24 districts. [...] So we are very excited because we believe that this map shouts “long live freedom goddammit!”

    The Economist: What place would the state occupy in your government, in today’s world?

    Javier Milei: The state is a criminal organisation that lives off a coercive source of income called taxes. In reality it is a large scale criminal organisation. Worse than the common thief. Do the maths: how many times does a common thief rob you in one year? The state steals from you every day, it steals from you every day, all the time. Every time you spend something the state is taking a part of that from you.

    So that is the conceptualisation. We propose pro-market reforms to reduce the State and in the case of some services provided by the State, since you cannot eliminate them instantly without generating damage, what we propose are transitions in which the service continues to be provided, but within a more competitive environment. Until you can evolve towards a market solution. But you create a dynamic that tries to come close to market behaviour.

    The Economist: So the idea is to have a society where contracts between individuals govern everything.

    Javier Milei: Yes, contracts between individuals are the basis of the market. The market is a process of social cooperation where individuals voluntarily exchange property rights.

    The Economist: So what would that look like in, for example, education or health care?

    Javier Milei: In education today you have a mass of resources that the state allocates to education. When you look at the performance of the PISA tests, Argentina’s performance is deplorable. When you look at children’s reading ability, not only half of them do not finish [the test], but the half that do finish, only half of that group can read and understand a text. And 70% can’t solve a basic maths problem. [...]

    So clearly we have a problem and the model is not working. So if you think of the State as an insurance and people want to have education, you have to look for mechanisms that assimilate the competitive model. When you are going to allocate those resources, instead of putting it on the supply side, you put it on the demand side. And you generate competition. So do you have insurance? Yes, because you will have education. What changes is who receives the resource and how they use it. With that you generate a system of competition.

    The Economist: Would it be a voucher system like the one that exists in Chile, or in the United States? Or what would be the model?

    Javier Milei: It is a voucher system, yes, we were with the entrepreneur who designed the Swedish system. I don’t remember his name. But there are 40 schools and they have 25,000 students. And those who are in the system are the ones with the highest grades in science in English and mathematics.

    The Economist: And in health care?

    Javier Milei: We have to think that both health care and education are [managed] at the provincial level [Argentina is a federal country with 24 provinces]. We can only suggest things.

    But one of the things we [...] want to do is a sort of census of those who have health coverage. And once you have all those who are covered, that is, obviously by difference, you get all those who are not covered. And for that, we would create a health insurance. In such a way that you guarantee their health.

    We are designing the Ministry of Human Capital, which includes a part on Childhood and the Family, another on Health, another part is Education, and these three areas are integrated with Labour. So we are not going to stop providing support. What we are doing is redesigning the containment mechanisms so that people can leave it.

    Social policy in Argentina has always focused on giving you fish. We focus on teaching you how to fish.

    The Economist: So you wouldn’t close the Ministry of Education [as you have suggested], you would redesign it.

    Javier Milei: We have been very clear, but then there is always the caricature.

    The Economist: What is your diagnosis of Argentina--how did it get to be the way it is?

    Javier Milei: Argentina has been in decline for more than 100 years as a consequence of embracing ever-increasing doses of socialism. This started in 1916 with [President Hipólito] Yrigoyen, who was the first populist, and as time went by we embraced more and more socialism.

    What I define as the basis of decline is what I call the caste model. The caste model says that where there is a need, a right is born.

    But the problem is that needs are infinite and rights have to be paid for by someone, and resources are finite. This conflict between infinite needs and finite resources is solved by economics with private property and a price system. But politicians do not like the idea of the invisible hand. They believe in the claw of the state and solve it by means of a nefarious slogan which is the idea of social justice. This is unjust because it is based on theft and unequal treatment before the law. And that generates a perverse behaviour in the system that has resulted in Argentina today being a miserable country.

    The Economist: Is there a contradiction between being against abortion and the libertarian idea that the state should not interfere in the private sphere?

    Javier Milei: I’m going to put it in several dimensions. First of all, in the debate between liberals and libertarians, there are groups that are pro-choice and there are groups that are pro-life. Therefore, in libertarianism it is an open discussion. So this contradiction is raised by those who do not understand liberalism, or are poorly informed.

    In my case, I have a pro-life position. And it is based on a philosophical question, which has to do with the right to life.

    It is based on a biological question, which is that life begins at the moment of fertilisation and that from then on we are all human beings in evolution.

    And [it is based] on an interpretation of a mathematical nature in terms of discontinuity: life is a continuum that begins with the moment of fertilisation and ends when you die, and any discrete leap in the middle means you died.

    For me, abortion is qualified murder aggravated by the bond. Because it is true that the mother has the right over her body, but not over the body of the child, which is a totally different body, it has a different DNA. Therefore, you have the right over your own body, but not over the right of the unborn child.

    The Economist: So a condition for being free is first to have the right to live?

    Javier Milei: Exactly, there is neither freedom nor property if you are not born.

    The Economist: Let’s ask ping-pong questions, with quick answers. What do you think about inclusive language?

    The Economist: What do you think about transgender issues – is it okay for people to change their gender if they want to?

    Javier Milei: If it is their decision, who am I to limit it? They can do whatever they want. Their body is their property.

    The Economist: Should there be unisex/gender-neutral bathrooms?

    Javier Milei: I don’t care, it will depend on the customs of society. The evolution of society itself fixes it.

    The Economist: What do you think about climate change?

    Javier Milei: It seems to me that the issue of climate change is not approached as it should be, with a much longer historical perspective. When you look at it over many more years, you get a different perspective than when you look at it over a short period of time.

    The Economist: Are you saying that global warming is not caused by humans? That it is not anthropogenic?

    Javier Milei: Well, in fact, the earth has already lived moments with these temperature levels and even when humans were not around. And the earth shows cycles. So why focus on the last 50, 100, or 200 years when you have thousands of years to look at? And when you look at thousands of years you see a cyclical behaviour. And that is independent of the existence of humans because you have other peaks of the same temperature levels where humans were not present.

    The Economist: So it has nothing to do with our actions. With greenhouse gases, with human activity? That doesn’t have an effect on climate change?

    Javier Milei: [Pause] Again, this has happened in other periods of history. Now the reason why it’s happening may be different. But the earth has already experienced these temperature levels at other times in its history.

    The Economist: Let’s turn to how you would govern. What measures would you take in the first 100 days of your government?

    Javier Milei: Basically, we are promoting a reform of the state. We are going to reduce the number of ministries to eight, we are going to keep the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, Human Capital, Security, Justice, Defense and the Interior Ministry.

    We will also promote a reform of the state to reduce public spending, lower taxes and simplify the tax system, and tackle the whole tangle of regulations that Argentina has.

    In addition, we will also promote a modernization of the labour market towards an unemployment insurance system.

    And once we are competitive fiscally and in the labour [market], we will move towards an opening of the economy. And at the same time, we will move towards the elimination of the central bank in order to eradicate inflation from the lives of the Argentine people for good.

    The Economist: And would you eliminate capital controls in the first 100 days of government?

    Javier Milei: The day you fix the Leliqs [short-term loans the central bank borrows from banks], you can automatically eliminate capital controls. [How long that will take] depends on how you can structure the operation.

    We have five alternatives and what will determine which alternative you choose are the contours of the market. If someone comes and gives me the $30bn in cash, I can solve it in one day. If they don’t give me the $30bn cash, I won’t solve it in one day. Then [we will look at other options.]

    There are several [proposals], that is, Emilio [Ocampo] has one of the proposals and there are three more, and there is one that [he] is now working on with another colleague that demands fewer physical dollars.

    Removing capital controls has to do with disarming the Leliqs problem. Because the portfolio switch could generate hyperinflation.

    The Economist: And how are you going to lower taxes?

    Javier Milei: First you have to lower public spending and once you reach zero financial deficit, the debt does not grow any more.

    The Economist: When do you want to reach zero deficit?

    Javier Milei: In the first year.

    In this context, to the extent that you continue to lower spending, you can lower taxes.

    It is in line with how you advance in the reform of lowering public spending. Because you cannot make the mistake of fiscal delirium, of being insolvent.

    [And the objective would be to lower taxes by about 15% of GDP] and go to a state like the one that existed before Kirchnerism arrived.

    The Economist: And how are you going to cut public spending?

    Javier Milei: We propose to eliminate public works and replace it with a Chilean-style private initiative system.

    We also propose to eliminate discretionary transfers from the federal state to the provinces and from provinces to municipalities.

    And we propose to eliminate economic subsidies, recalibrating the economic-financial equation of the contracts, minimising the impact on prices but always respecting that the rate of return of the firm’s cash flow is above the weighted average cost of capital. It is a way of remunerating a company’s capital base.

    Javier Milei: And there you already have 13 points of GDP.

    The Economist: What do you think of Patricia Bullrich and would you work with her in your government?

    Javier Milei: She disappointed me.

    I thought she was different and she ended up being like all the politicians of the caste, who are capable of doing anything to get into power. Therefore I am very disappointed with her.

    The Economist: But you would work with the PRO [the main centre-right party] and the opposition?

    Javier Milei: I could work with all those who want to embrace, nobly and sincerely, the ideas of freedom, so that is open.

    The Economist: Is governing by decree an option?

    Javier Milei: No. All our proposals are intended to go through Congress. And if Congress blocks them...well, then we plan to go to referendums for structural reforms that we consider fundamental.

    The Economist: Would you use plebiscites in many cases?

    Javier Milei: In cases of non-negotiable structural reforms. For example, the elimination of the central bank and the reform of the state.

    The Economist: What else?

    Javier Milei: Nothing else, because those are the two pillars.

    The Economist: If elected, will you raffle your presidential salary [as you have done with your legislative salary] and give up your presidential pension?

    Javier Milei: I don’t live off the state, so yeah, sure. I don’t need it. So yeah, I’m going to go on...with the same thing.
    [... continued in this post ...]
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 09-09-2023 at 08:31 AM.

  20. #47

    Javier Milei interview @ The Economist (continued)

    [... continued from this post ...]

    [hidden to save space]
    The Economist: So you will raffle your presidential salary?

    Javier Milei: [Nods] Mhmm.

    The Economist: And you would give up your presidential pension

    Javier Milei: Obviously.

    The Economist: How would you respond to protests against you?

    Javier Milei: With the law.

    The Economist: What would happen to the welfare state?

    Javier Milei: It is the enemy, so we are going to dismantle it. But with a transition.

    The Economist: And how are you going to negotiate with the unions and social movements?

    Javier Milei: I do not see a problem with the unions. And with respect to the social movements, they will have to be reorganised in such a way that there are no political operators who benefit from managing welfare plans, what we in Argentina call the managers of poverty.

    The Economist: I am surprised that you say there is no problem with unions.

    Javier Milei: I don’t see that there is a problem with the unions. The problem is how you approach the problem with the unions. If you are going to approach the problem of the unions as Juntos por el Cambio [the centre-right coalition] does, which wants to kill them, well, they will defend themselves. If you try to understand what is going on in the labour market you might have some chance of dealing with them in a way that you can find a solution.

    The Economist: So if you want to make a labour reform, you will negotiate with them.

    Javier Milei: It is going to have to be a consensus solution. Notice I didn’t say [the laobur reform] would go to a plebiscite. It is a consensus reform.

    The Economist: What would the relationship with the IMF and the Paris Club be like?

    Javier Milei: We would have no problem with the IMF because the [austerity package] we propose is much tougher than what the IMF proposes.

    The Economist: Are you going to privatise public companies?

    Javier Milei: Yes.

    The Economist: All of them?

    Javier Milei: As many as I can.

    The Economist: YPF? [the state oil firm]

    Javier Milei: First it must be reconverted and then privatised. After we make the energy system run again and rebuild YPF, then it can be sold.

    The Economist: What is the plan regarding the implementation of dollarization? Are you looking at Ecuador or El Salvador as models?

    Javier Milei: We have five different alternatives. What you have to rescue is $40bn dollars. There are $10bn dollars of monetary base and $30bn dollars of Leliqs. There is a part that has cash, the central bank.

    Why do economists get it wrong? They measure net international reserves and they don’t have to measure that. They have to measure [the central bank’s total] reserves. So, there you have [enough] to rescue the monetary base.

    And then you have $120bn dollars of face value government securities, which you have to reconvert to market value and do the financial engineering to redeem the Leliqs.

    Suppose they are trading at 25%, you have just $30bn.

    The Economist: I don’t understand the process of changing Leliqs from pesos to dollars....

    Javier Milei: Because you have assets in the central bank, government securities of the equivalent of $120bn dollars. So, if you assume that they were traded at 25 cents, today the securities are traded above 30 cents, but if they were traded at 25, there you have $30bn dollars to redeem the Leliqs with. So how you solve the Leliqs question is a problem of financial engineering. But that is one methodology, there are other methodologies.

    You can do it with insurance companies. And you can use those $120bn dollars of guarantees for insurance in case you have a run. Then, you could give public securities in dollars to the banks for the Leliqs. And if there were a run and they needed to liquidate that, you have an insurance on the other side with which you would respond with physical dollars in case of a run.

    When you look at the composition of the banks, of their balance sheets, the run would hardly exceed $15b dollars. So it is much easier to structure this insurance operation.

    There are different alternatives to do so. There is Emilio [Ocampo]’s alternative, there are several.

    The Economist: So it is not that you are going in with a fixed plan for how to dollarize, but are rather evaluating various options.

    Javier Milei: We have five alternatives, and the key is, what are the market conditions when we take power?

    The Economist: What do you mean?

    Javier Milei: Because there are solutions that in one context can work and in another context cannot. So, we are looking for alternative solutions so that when we arrive, if A does not work, we will go with B, and if not we will go with C and so on. Because we have the conviction to close the Central Bank.

    The Economist: After the PASO, the reaction of the markets was actually negative due to fears of growing instability.

    Javier Milei: No, that is the reading made by the Juntos por el Cambio. And in fact they are no longer a viable [electoral] option.

    Today we would say that the only real dispute is between us and Unión por la Patria [the Peronist coalition also running for the presidency].

    The Economist: So if you get to December [when the new government assumes power], and you have won, and the market is freaking out, unlike you expected...

    Javier Milei: Well, but that has to do with the problems of this government. Because Juntos por el Cambio tried to say that this [the negative market reaction] was my fault and that is false. I mean, how is someone who is pro-market going to be rejected by the market? That would be strange.

    The Economist: I have talked to several people who told me that what they fear is a lack of governance and more instability as a result. Because you are going to have a minority in Congress.

    Javier Milei: Well okay, but supposing that were true, the problem then is that this country is unviable. If you believe that there is going to be a governance problem by applying the right ideas, then the country is unviable. [...]

    [Juntos por el Cambio] also don’t have a majority. They do not have the majority. Not only do they not have a majority, but as if that were not enough, they are also unwilling to apply the measures that Argentina needs. So what kind of governance are you talking about? [...] Then the argument does not make sense.

    The problem is that many investment banks are advised by local economists who are not only brutish, but also work for politicians.

    The Economist: So in your reading, why are so many economists saying that dollarisation is not viable in Argentina at this time?

    Javier Milei: Because they are brutes, because they are ignorant. I have to be discussing dollarisation with people who do not know what a general equilibrium model is, nor what a flow model is, nor a general equilibrium model of stocks, they do not have a good base of micro-foundations, besides they have no knowledge of finance to understand a balance sheet restructuring problem! These are the basic elements that you have to understand in order to understand dollarization and I have to argue with people who do not know about them.

    It’s like wanting to discuss Pontryagin’s maximum principle with people who can’t even add with an abacus. Well then, if it seems impossible to them, of course it is, because they are ignorant.

    The Economist: And if you eliminate the central bank here, wouldn’t Argentina still be governed by a central bank, but just by the Fed instead?

    Javier Milei: But again, it is a system of currency competition. That is to say, you can liquidate the central bank in dollars, but the currency you use can be any currency.

    I mean, that’s another part of intellectual dishonesty.

    The Economist: So the idea is that for a period of time there would be a system of competing currencies?

    Javier Milei: There will always be that, there will always be currency competition.

    The Economist: And in this context, the dollar has won

    Javier Milei: Well Argentines have historically chosen the dollar, but it does not have to be the dollar. If you are an oil company, you can make your contracts in WTI, who cares? If you are in gas, in BTU. And if you are a farmer and you farm soybeans, you can choose the price of soybeans in Chicago.

    The Economist: But if the government’s big goal is to eliminate the central bank and at the end of the day you will still be dependent on the US central bank [is that a contradiction]?

    Javier Milei: The main objective is to exterminate inflation.

    The Economist: By eliminating the central bank

    Javier Milei: The central bank is a major cause of inflation. And yes it is a philosophical question because stealing is wrong.

    It is up to the agents to decide whether they want to be robbed by the American state, by the European Union or by the...

    The Economist: So the Fed is fine, but the central bank of Argentina is not...

    Javier Milei: No, neither is the Fed.

    The Economist: But it is the lesser evil.

    Javier Milei: Yes, now we are getting there! That is the point. If I tell you there was a central bank that generated 100% inflation during the 21st century, what would you call it?

    The Economist: You would call it a scam.

    Javier Milei: Well, it is indeed a scam and well, the Federal Reserve is just that.

    The Economist: A scam.

    Javier Milei: All central banks are a scam. The Federal Reserve in the last... so far in the 21st century, it has generated 100% inflation.

    So the US central bank, the Federal Reserve is bad. Then there are central banks that are very bad. Then there are those that are appallingly bad. And then there is the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic, which is the worst thing in the universe.

    The Economist: Could crypto play a role?

    Javier Milei: No, no... I don’t know, that is the decision of agents. For example, in Guatemala, companies engaged in coffee production issued their own currency.

    In fact, currency is a private sector invention, not the invention of a bureaucrat.

    The Economist: Let’s say the issue of dollarizing the Leliqs is solved, how will you convert the base, the $10bn?

    Javier Milei: You have the alternative of Ecuador or you have the alternative of El Salvador. Ecuador told people that in three months they had to dollarize, they had to convert. What is the problem? There was an operational problem because they needed the small bills, they could not solve it in three months. They ended up solving it in nine months. In the case of El Salvador, they let people convert whenever they wanted to. And it took twenty-four months.

    The Economist: Would you set a deadline?

    Javier Milei: No. But when two-thirds of the base is converted, it is as if you have a plebiscite and you end up converting it unilaterally.

    The Economist: And the dollars that already exist, which are outside the system but are held by Argentines, what will happen to them?

    Javier Milei: They are going to come back and that will allow us to create a capital market.

    The Economist: Will they return to Argentine banks?

    Javier Milei: I do not know if it will be to Argentine banks, but it will be to the new capital market that we are going to create.

    The Economist: And in your mind, how long would all this take?

    Javier Milei: It can take from nine months to 24 months.

    The Economist: In your opinion, why did convertibility fail [a programme in the 1990s which pegged the Argentine peso to the US dollar]?

    Javier Milei: First, because it was not irreversible. And when the politicians ran out of the possibility of obtaining debt financing, they took to the central bank. The problem is always the same, it is the thieving politicians.

    When they could not steal any more, they did not implement austerity. They went back to their monetary gambits and robbed us with an inflationary tax.

    The Economist: Wouldn’t some of the proposals you make, such as cutting public spending, make the situation even more difficult for the poorest?

    Javier Milei: No, this is not true. The situation is going to be difficult for criminals, not for the vulnerable.

    The Economist: But that’s a slogan.

    Javier Milei: No, that is a lie. That is a lie because the [spending cut] is made on the items from which politicians steal. For example, cutting public works, making them null and void, and moving towards a system of private bidding like the Chilean style, that is where thieving politicians and businessmen lose.

    The Economist: Are you going to cut welfare spending?

    Javier Milei: No.

    The Economist: So you wouldn’t touch welfare plans?

    Javier Milei: No.

    The Economist: You wouldn’t reform them?

    Javier Milei: We would reconfigure them, but we wouldn’t reduce them.

    The Economist: How would they be reconfigured?

    Javier Milei: They would be used so that you can get out of poverty.

    But you do not leave [the welfare system] without funds. You get the middlemen out of the way and reconfigure [welfare] into a programme where you can ensure that [those who depend on welfare plans] are going to be fed, that they are going to be healthy and that this will allow them to have access to education.

    The people from the Ministry of Human Capital are reconfiguring all the plans so that people can be fed, so that people can be healthy, and from there, they can be integrated into the educational system.

    The Economist: And isn’t that a type of welfare state?

    Javier Milei: It’s actually a transition. But you change the logic of social policy.

    The Economist: And the idea is that at the end you have to work or you lose access to welfare?

    Javier Milei: Exactly, but first we have to create the conditions for you to be able to work. Because if you don’t create them, you end up hurting the victim, when you have to go against the victimizer.

    The Economist: So in the first years of government welfare would not be removed.

    Javier Milei: I never said that welfare would be removed. During the first years we would try to reconfigure [handouts] so that social policy would not be centred around welfare, but around human capital.

    The Economist: And can you explain to me how that would work? You would give people a term of a couple of years, and if they don’t get a job, you would take the handouts away?

    Javier Milei: No, no, no, because the problem is that you have so much damage to the social fabric that it requires a lot of work on children and family, it requires a lot of work on health...and only when you tackle that, it starts to have effects on education.

    And then you make the leap from education to work, that should be a long-term state policy.

    Nobody can believe that they are going to solve this problem in less than 15 years. In other words, what we are willing to do is to set up a programme so that in 15 years time this will no longer be a problem.

    The Economist: Give me a concrete example of that transition. If I get state welfare...

    Javier Milei: You will continue to receive it but with other services that you will have to get in order to be able to work on your human capital.

    The Economist: Other services?

    Javier Milei: Of course, it’s not like you’re going to receive handouts and stare at the ceiling.

    The Economist: Are you saying there are going to be conditions? What would the conditions be?

    Javier Milei: Exactly. I mean, making sure that people are fed, making sure that people meet parameters of basic health care.

    The Economist: What do you mean, they would have to be vaccinated?

    Javier Milei: You would have to comply with all that, exactly. You would have to send your children to school.

    The Economist: Is that not already the case with the existing Universal Child Welfare scheme?....

    Javier Milei: Well, okay, but they’re not working. But it’s fine, but you have to...You also have a lot of programmes and then you have have to streamline them and do it with a criterion that has to do with getting people out of welfare and teaching them how to fish.

    The Economist: And would there be other goals, for example, would you have to show that you are looking for a job?

    Javier Milei: Exactly. But again, the work part is the last part, because there, when you reach the last part, and you have the training, and you are in the right condition, well, okay, then you will receive job offers. Maybe the first one you reject, the second one you reject and the third time you reject, you will lose the handout.

    But there is a whole process until you get there. I mean, not understanding that process can do a lot of harm in human terms.

    The Economist: So: at the beginning of the interview you said the welfare state is an enemy. But to dismantle it there needs to be a transition and other reforms would come first [before dismantling welfare]

    Javier Milei: Of course. And yes, you have to lay the groundwork for the transition. In the long term, the Ministry of Human Capital would lose meaning if everything worked well. It exists because the reality does not work well. So, since it doesn’t work, you have to build a system that takes you out of it. That is a bridge to work.

    The Economist: You said you don’t have a problem with the unions, but the teacher’s unions, for example, would have a problem with the transition?

    Javier Milei: Why?

    The Economist: Don’t you think they would have a problem with the voucher system you propose? Wouldn’t you also touch their pensions?

    Javier Milei: No. Acquired rights are acquired rights, you cannot touch them. So, what you have to do is to build the transition to the new system. But that requires a state policy where you say, well, I want to go towards a system of freedom, but the problem with the system of freedom is that I start from something that is super contaminated with socialism.

    Now, if I want to make it instantaneous, it blows up. When you look at this, there is a question of sustainability and social licence.

    For example, fiscal policy. What is sustainable? That you generate policies to pay the debt. The issue is whether society will support it. Well, if society slaps you in the face, you will not be able to apply that policy.

    So what you have to look for is that a policy should also have social licence. Why? Because if you want to apply the reform of an ideal system in a situation where everything is broken, the problem will generate social chaos, so the remedy ends up being worse than the disease.


    The Economist: Are you talking to unions and social movements right now?

    Javier Milei: I talk to the actors who want to be part of the new liberal, prosperous and powerful Argentina. Anyone is welcome.

    The Economist: Sure, but there are many who don’t want that.

    Javier Milei: Well, it will end up being defined at the ballot box by the Argentine people who want to be [free].

    The Economist: And what would you do against crime?

    Javier Milei: The law would have to be complied with. We are working on a new internal security law, a new national defence law, a new intelligence law, on reforming the penal code, on reforming the criminal code and on reforming the prison system.

    The Economist: That’s a lot.

    Javier Milei: Yes, well, we take things seriously.

    The Economist: [Milei’s running mate for vice president] Victoria [Villaruel] would be in charge of that.

    Javier Milei: Yes, security and defence would be under Victoria’s command.

    The Economist: Because of some statements she has made about the military dictatorship, do you think there could be a backlash? [Editor’s note: Ms Villaruel has criticised the judicial processes that led to the prosecution of generals that committed crimes against humanity during Argentina’s dictatorship]

    Javier Milei: Again, that kind of thing clears itself up when you hear her speak. It happens that the left is very intolerant and lies at the same time.

    The Economist: How do you define what happened in Argentina between 1976 and 1983? [Editor’s note: the years when a military dictatorship ruled]

    Javier Milei: That there was a war. There was a war between a group of subversives who wanted to impose a communist dictatorship, and on the other side there were security forces that overreached in their actions. And since you are the State and you have the monopoly of violence, you are obliged to preserve order but without violating the law. Therefore, violations of the law should be punished. But there were crimes on both sides, not only on one side.

    Since you have a monopoly on violence, you cannot play outside the rules of the game even if the other person does so.

    In other words, the terrorists played outside the rules of the game, but that does not give you the right to play outside the rules of the game, because you are the state. The state has the monopoly of violence and has the mechanisms to work against it, but within the rules of the game. And if you do not comply with them, you have to sit out.

    Not everything goes, no, not everything goes. It is worth playing by the law.

    The Economist: Was there state terrorism?

    Javier Milei: Of course there was state terrorism.

    The Economist: How many people disappeared?

    Javier Milei: Check it on the page, the number is there.

    The Economist: What place do you want Argentina to occupy in the world?

    Javier Milei: May it be a beacon of light for the free world. We stand in defence of freedom, in defence of peace, in defence of democracy, and we will always be on that side.

    The Economist: With whom would you do business?

    Javier Milei: Commercial relations are a problem of individuals in which the state should not interfere. You can trade with whomever you want.

    The Economist: But you mentioned that you would break off relations with China and Brazil.

    Javier Milei: That is political.

    If you want to buy, sell and make deals with the Chinese or whoever you want, I have no problem. It is your problem.

    But my political alignment is with other people. That is to say, I cannot have political alignments with those who do not respect freedom, with those who do not respect life, with those who do not respect democracy.

    The Economist: You would not advance in free trade agreements through Mercosur because Brazil is involved?

    Javier Milei: What does free trade look like? Free trade does not include the state. It is a private decision, so you can trade with whomever you want.

    The Economist: So your government would not sign free trade agreements?

    Javier Milei: Why do I have to be involved in transactions with private parties?

    If you want to trade with Brazil, do it, if you want to trade with China, do it, it is your problem as a private person. Tariffs should not exist. Free trade does not include the government interfering in private decisions.

    What I will have an influence on is geopolitics, on strategy in terms of geopolitics.

    The Economist: But some government measures will have an impact on trade.

    Javier Milei: Sure, but once you are competitive fiscally and on the labour side you can open up unilaterally.

    Then you have the political part, and that is different. We are going to be aligned with those who defend freedom, peace and democracy.

    The Economist: What do you think of Mercosur?

    Javier Milei: That it is a commercial failure that has not gone beyond the category of a customs union that only generates trade diversions and damage for all those who live in the region. Here I am aligned with [Uruguayan President Luis] Lacalle Pou, in that I believe that Mercosur is a failure. It has not served the people, it has only served for business between politicians and businessmen.

    The Economist: Lacalle Pou wants to leave in part to sign a free trade agreement with China...

    Javier Milei: That is Lacalle Pou’s problem, but let’s say that Mercosur does not work, as it is.

    The Economist: Would you take Argentina out of Mercosur?

    Javier Milei: It seems to me that Mercosur does not work, and I am going for an agenda of unilateral opening. Once the reforms associated with this unilateral opening are finished, I do not believe in the government managing trade.

    The Economist: And you don’t care that Mercosur may be about to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union. Would Argentina go its own way?

    Javier Milei: Argentina would go its own way. Why does the state have to regulate who I can and cannot buy from?

    The Economist: Would you try to bring Argentina into the OECD?

    Javier Milei: It would be good for Argentina to be where the advanced countries are. But I will not align my fiscal policy with theirs. Because I think that they tax too much.

    The Economist: The model is clearly not Norway...

    Javier Milei: No, the model is not Norway.

    The Economist: Is there a country model you want to follow?

    Javier Milei: Ireland. In terms of freedom. In fact it is a miracle, it is the Celtic miracle. It was one of the most miserable countries in Europe and today it is one of the best countries in Europe. It has a GDP per capita of $120,000.

    In 30 years, if I am not mistaken, the GDP per capita increased sixfold, from 20,000 to 120,000. And that is because they made pro-market reforms.

    Where you give way to freedom, society flourishes. Not only economically, but it flourishes also in social aspects. There is a phrase by [Frédéric] Bastiat that is wonderful, which says: “Where commerce enters, bullets do not enter.”

    And there is another wonderful phrase that is by Bertrand de Jouvenel who says: “Where there is a market, manners are sweet.”

    Because your only mechanism to be successful in capitalism is to serve your fellow man with better quality goods at a better price. You may hate the other person, but you are obliged to treat him well.

    The Economist: So for you the pro-market reforms also helped end Ireland’s civil war?

    Javier Milei: Exactly. Wars are always driven by states, not by individuals.

    The Economist: Beyond Ireland, are there other models?

    Javier Milei: Yes: New Zealand and Australia.

    The Economist: What would you do with the Falkland Islands/Malvinas?

    Javier Milei: We believe that regarding the Malvinas Islands issue, first of all, the solution cannot be war. We do not believe in that.

    Secondly, we believe that we could move towards a solution such as the one that England tried with China in the case of Hong Kong.

    But it should also take into account the decision of the people living on the islands.

    In other words, it would have to be something that arises from a negotiation through diplomatic channels. It cannot include violent solutions and it cannot violate the rightsand decisions of individuals. In other words, it would be a consensus solution that would obviously take time.

    But there is no worse management than the one that is not done. So it is a matter of sitting down, negotiating, talking, thinking about it and trying to find a solution.

    The Economist: Are the Malvinas Islands Argentine?

    Javier Milei: They are Argentine because within the logic of how sovereignty is defined, they are within our territorial zone.

    But the solution cannot be bellicose, it has to be a diplomatic solution involving Argentina, England and the inhabitants of the island.

    The Economist: And in what sense is Hong Kong a model?

    Javier Milei: Well, there was an agreement between England and China that set certain conditions, and Hong Kong went back to being part of China and it was an agreement between China and England.

    The Economist: And what do you think about China? What would bilateral relations with China be like in your government?

    Javier Milei: It does not respect the conditions on which I decide who my allies are. Freedom, democracy, peace.

    So it doesn’t fit doesn’t meet those parameters.

    The Economist: You wouldn’t sit at a table with Xi Jinping?

    Javier Milei: [Pause] Not as a strategic ally. If Argentines want to trade with China it is a private sector problem.

    The Economist: And beyond trade, for example, what would you do about what is happening in Antarctica or the base that China has in Neuquén?

    Javier Milei: That should be put under review.

    The Economist: How?

    Javier Milei: I don’t like to deal with communists because that is not a system that leads to the betterment of goods. No communist system leads to freedom, in fact it destroys it, so I can’t have dealings with communists.

    The Economist: And with the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva?

    Javier Milei: Look at the aberrations he is carrying out in his government. I cannot endorse such matters.

    The Economist: What do you mean?

    Javier Milei: Look at how they are enroaching on freedom of the press.

    The Economist: I do not understand.

    Javier Milei: Obviously, those who have not behaved in line with the lies they promoted, they have taken down pages of journalists, persecuted journalists, persecuted the opposition.

    It is a regime that is not in line with the ideas of freedom.

    The Economist: What do you think of Jair Bolsonaro [the former president of Brazil]?

    Javier Milei: Bolsonaro has fought a worthy fight against socialism. Later, the ballot box did not go with him, but he is a person who has fought a fight worthy of recognition.

    The Economist: And what happened in the United States on January 6 [2021], how would you describe it?

    Javier Milei: What is the reference to

    The Economist: To the Capital Riot, when some people who had voted for Donald Trump attacked the Capitol. Or January 8th in Brazil [how would you describe it]...

    Javier Milei: Well, what happened in Brazil was shown to have been set up by the Brazilian government itself, Lula’s own people.

    The Economist: What do you mean it has been shown?

    Javier Milei: Exactly as I say, hence the censorship.

    The Economist: And in the United States?

    Javier Milei: I don’t know how it came about in the United States, but I don’t think it was directly linked to Trump.

    The Economist: Do you think Donald Trump won the 2020 election?

    Javier Milei: There are some things that generate doubts for me. But well, that’s in the past.

    The Economist: Did Jair Bolsonaro win the election?

    Javier Milei: I also have doubts about the system used in Brazil.

    The Economist: What are your doubts?

    Javier Milei: Because there are some voting behaviours that are anomalous. So...but again, it has to do with the context in Brazil, it has to do with the context in the United States. But we have another way of looking at the problem.

    We have studies that show that in this election [the Argentine presidential primaries on August 13th 2023] we were robbed of 5%. Well, what we have to do is to improve the auditing mechanisms. We need to have more auditors, we need to audit things better. We solve it this way. Everybody solves it in their own way.

    The Economist: Who stole 5% [of votes] from you?

    Javier Milei: The ruling party and Juntos por el Cambio between them.

    The Economist: Did they work together to do that?

    Javier Milei: No, they did it independently, but we have records, for example, of people from Juntos por el Cambio asking them to take out our ballots.

    The Economist: So neither Biden nor Lula are legitimate presidents.

    Javier Milei: No, I did not say that. I respect the institutions of each country, it is a matter of each country. What I am saying is, I have doubts. But from there to not respecting institutionality there is an abyss. I respect the decision of the people. And if the institutional mechanisms that each country has determine that they are the winners, they are the winners.

    The Economist: What about Vladimir Putin, what do you think of him?

    Javier Milei: I consider him an autocrat.

    In fact I was one of the first, I would almost say I was the first to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. In fact the Ukrainian Embassy lent me the flag of the Embassy so that I could go and protest. And I did, actively.

    The Economist: What leaders would you like to meet in the first months of your government?

    Javier Milei: I will see at that time.

    The Economist: Would you meet with Zelensky?

    Javier Milei: Yes.

    The Economist: What do you think about meeting Binyamin Netanyahu?

    Javier Milei: [Huge smile] It would be a pleasure, an honour. In fact, I am planning my first trip as president to Israel.

    The Economist: Why?

    Javier Milei: Because...well, first of all because I have a very close relationship with Israel. And second, because what Israel has done has been a miracle, it’s the Startup Nation, right?

    So, for me it has several values, and there is also a symbolic issue, isn’t there?

    The Economist: What do you think of the judicial reform that Netanyahu promoted?

    Javier Milei: I am not into those details.

    The Economist: And...what about Palestine?

    Javier Milei: [Pause] I am going to Israel. My partners are the United States and Israel.

    The Economist: And within the United States, [you would have relations with] whoever. Biden or Trump.

    Javier Milei: Again, you have to respect the presidential figure because it is a decision of the American people. And if you decide that the United States is your strategic partner, you act accordingly, regardless of whether you have more affinity with one party than with another. I have more affinity with the Republican Party than with the Democratic Party, but that does not allow me to disregard the leadership of a Democratic President. I don’t know if I am being clear.

    The Economist: But for you Lula is not a democrat president, so how would you define him?

    Javier Milei: In Lula’s case it is more complicated....because he has a much more marked totalitarian vocation. In other words, he is not only a socialist. He is someone who has a totalitarian vocation.

    The Economist: And how would the relationship with Chile be under Gabriel Boric’s government?

    Javier Milei: No, with Boric I would have nothing to talk about. He is a communist.

    The Economist: Worse than Lula?

    Javier Milei: Like Lula.

    The Economist: So who would be your allies in the region? Who would you sit at a table with?

    Javier Milei: I would sit with those who are pro-freedom.

    The Economist: Who?

    Javier Milei: I mean, I would have no problem sitting down with Lacalle Pou, I would have no problem sitting down with the president of Paraguay, I would have no problem sitting down with the president of Ecuador, with Lasso. I would have no problem sitting down with the president of the United States, obviously.

    The Economist: Do you have a religion?

    Javier Milei: Yes. Let’s say, I studied for 12 years in a Catholic school. But actually my spiritual advisor is a rabbi. And I have a lot of affinity with the study of the Torah.

    The Economist: And why are you interested in Judaism?

    Javier Milei: Well, the first thing to understand when these questions are asked is: Jesus was a Jew. So he received that same training. [...]

    Besides, if I am a liberal-libertarian, it is clear that the book of Shemot, or if you want it in English, the book of Exodus, for me is absolutely revealing: it narrates the departure from Egypt to the promised land. So for me it is an epic. Obviously, in that context, my admiration for Moses is...let’s say .... is absolute. Why? Because he is, if you will, the first great liberator. And he and his brother Aaron confronted the Pharaoh, who was like the leader of the world’s great power at that time.

    Then there is also a whole question of values. When you study, for example, Moshe’s way of being humble. That also helps you put your ego in a box. And that is not a minor issue, especially when you are so close to power.

    Notice that we have a different concept of power. What does the normal politician do? He asks for your vote so that he has the power to act on your life. And what do we say to you? Vote for us so that we give you back the power so that you can be the architect of your own destiny. It is a totally different conception of power.

    The Economist: Humility is something that matters a lot to you?

    Javier Milei: When you look at the traps into which human beings fall into, there are three. They are always the same: ego, which in politics is closely linked to power; greed; and lust.

    So when you are clear about that, you adjust your life. Because the factors with which the traps are going to torpedo you, you don’t get mixed up with them. Because you understand what it is all about.

    The Economist: But there are rumours that candidacies were sold for people to be included on your party’s list....

    Javier Milei: They are false. They were being promoted by the people of Juntos por el Cambio, which in fact came from people who were on the lists of Juntos por el Cambio. But then they went to the justice system, the justice system acted ex officio, and nobody could prove anything.

    The Economist: Has the case been closed?

    Javier Milei: I don’t know what they did, but the truth is that they couldn’t prove anything, it was all hair salon gossip.

    The Economist: So the example of Moses and Aaron is something that has marked you personally. Do you see yourself and your sister Kari reflected in this example?

    Javier Milei: No, because we are talking about a giant of history and I cannot aspire to such a level of leadership or spiritual purity.

    But yes as a role model, a model that inspires. But to try to put it in other terms would be to violate the question of ego. It would be violating the very essence of Moses, which was his humility.

    The Economist: What do Conan [his first English mastiff, who died in 2017] and your dogs mean to you?

    Javier Milei: Conan, Murray, Milton, Robert and Lucas are my little four-legged children. See, when I was on the floor, I describe it like this in my book The Path to Freedom: when I was on the floor, and people were taking turns kicking my head on the floor, the only ones who were by my side were my sister and Conan.

    And that is repaid with gratitude. They are the only ones who never betrayed me. And that is paid with gratitude. And now to have the joy of having Murray, Milton, Robert and Lucas, it’s like that joy multiplied by five.

    The Economist: Where are they now?

    Javier Milei: At the moment I have them in the kennel because of the campaign.

    They are very big dogs. To give you an idea, on two legs, Milton, who is the biggest of them all, is 2 metres tall and weighs about 100 kilos.

    The Economist: What is it like to have five of them in your home?

    Javier Milei: Well, I have the house designed for that.

    The Economist: How?

    Javier Milei: I have kennels and I have a divided garden so that they can walk.

    The Economist: Is that why you moved to Benavides [a gated community]?

    Javier Milei: Yes. What happens is that it requires a lot of work [to take care of them] and during the campaign, I spend very little time at home. So that means that during the campaign I can’t be with them.

    I’m going to visit them, the campaign is designed so that I have days allotted for me to visit my four-legged kids. It’s designed that way so it’s not so hard.

    The Economist: They say that your dogs advise you on politics and that you talk to Conan [the dead dog].

    Javier Milei: What is it they say, that my dogs determine my strategies, yes? That they are like a strategic committee? They are the best strategic committee in the world. Tell me: when has an outsider-outsider achieved what we achieved in two years? If so, they are the best political analysts in the world.

    The Economist: So you neither deny nor confirm it

    Javier Milei: Let them say what they want. Let’s look at the results. If so, they will want to hire them from all over the world! Look at what they have done in two years, they are great.

    The Economist: I’ve seen how you talk about your sister, it’s very touching. What does she mean to you?

    Javier Milei: She is a superlative person. I have not met any human being with such levels of generosity, kindness, spirituality, capacity for work. In other words, I have never met a human being of such moral and spiritual dimension in my life.

    We are talking about a superlative human being. Difficult to fit into the normal categories, I would say it is impossible.

    The Economist: Would she hold a position in your government?

    Javier Milei: She has no interest in holding office. She accompanies me in this battle for freedom because...well, in fact if she were not here, none of this would exist.

    The Economist: Why is she so important?

    Javier Milei: Because if she were not there, I would have no spiritual fuel to face human misery in politics.

    The Economist: I’m going to be honest with you. I have seen videos in which aggression, violence from you and also used in descriptions of others, has scared me. But here you are being a sensitive person and the way you talk about Kari shows a great level of empathy. Where do these sometimes quite violent outbursts come from?

    Javier Milei: [Pause] Many times they are taken out of context. And also sometimes you make mistakes and you have to learn, correct, and improve.

    But a lot of the videos they take...that’s sometimes stuff that’s seven, eight, even ten years old. And I understand that. Nobody looks at the context. For example, I used to go on a TV programme called Intractables. And at some point a friend of mine was in the panel and told me that the producers had asked me to be assaulted en masse. And obviously in that situation in which I was assaulted, there were several people attacking me at the same time, so I reacted. Well, they did it because I boosted their ratings and they attacked me in a coordinated way from the production.

    The Economist: But you have made comments, for example about Marcos Peña [a former chief of staff], where there were not multiple panellists, where there was only you.

    Javier Milei: But Marcos Peña did a lot of damage to Argentina. He did a lot of damage. And besides, Marcos Peña is extremely violent. Look how the troll-centre of Juntos por el Cambio works, the level of violence it has. Marcos Peña is extremely violent. What happens is that as he is a coward he does it by mechanisms, like sending you the troll-centre, which is also financed by the payment of taxes. Which is also tremendously aberrant because if he would at least pay for it with his own money, I understand it, but he does it with the money that is stolen from our taxes. That is to say, the methodology of Juntos por el Cambio is very violent.

    The Economist: More so than the Peronists?

    Javier Milei: Yes, it is worse because at least the Peronists do it head-on.

    Those from Juntos por el Cambio want to show themselves as moderate, educated, republicans, but they send you the hitman.

    It is the cowardly version. At least the Peronist tells you that he is going to kill you, he is going to kill you and he comes straight at it.

    They [Juntos por el Cambio] appear to you as friends then stab you in the back by sending you the hitman.

    The Economist: But you respect [Former President Mauricio] Macri?

    Javier Milei: Yes, Macri is one of the few that I have respect for in that space. Because he is not that. Macri is not that.

    The Economist: What is he?

    Javier Milei: He is someone who also tried to make a change in Argentina in the right direction, but he surrounded himself with people who are part of the problem.

    The Economist: How do you feel about the first round [of the presidential election] and what will you do if you lose?

    Javier Milei: Look, whatever happens is going to be the will of the Creator. So wherever I happen to be is fine. We are going to do everything we can to win.

    In other words, we are going to try to improve auditing, we are going to try to seduce those who didn’t vote.

    We are trying to make the population realise that we are the only alternative to put an end to Kirchnerism. Basically those are our lines of action.

    The Economist: Would you stay in politics if you lost?

    Javier Milei: We’ll see. At the end of 2018, 2019, I saw it as an absolutely impossible thing to enter politics. I always think of a party in New York City in which José Luis Espert was running for president and Alberto Benegas Lynch Jr. came to me and said “well, are you not going to get into this?” And I told him no, professor, I said quietly, I detest politics. And then the facts brought me here, the spontaneous order, the invisible hand brought me here.

    The Economist: How did politics go from being something dirty to being something you wanted to get into?

    Javier Milei: At the beginning of Alberto Fernandez’s government, a witch-hunting began, so to speak. They persecuted the liberals. In fact, Leandro Santoro, who was a sort of spokesman in the media, called for me to be openly censored.

    So I saw that the cultural battle was complicated and then I decided to get inside the system to end the status quo.

    The Economist: Are you an Anglophile?

    Javier Milei: Yes [laughs]

    The Economist: In what sense?

    Javier Milei: In the sense that, for example, I listen, or listened to when I was younger…I have the complete collection of the Beatles, the complete collection of the Rolling Stones, I have the complete collection of Queen, and I also have the complete collection of Led Zeppelin, Deep Heart, ACDC... in other words, I have several bands. Then I have about...between CDs and records like 200 Elvis Presley plates. But that’s American.

    Economist: Did he inspire your look?

    Javier Milei: No, the look is very Jagger originally. It’s in the pictures from when I had the rock band. My band was called Everest and I sang and we did Rolling Stones covers.

    The Economist: And Mick Jagger was the one who inspired you, the inspiration behind the wig [Editor’s note: the Wig is Mr Milei’s nickname in Argentina].

    Javier Milei: Exactly. What happened is that later it mutated and today, Lilia Lemoine, who is in charge of my image and who does my make-up and actually she is my image consultant and since she is a cosplayer, in that context she suggested that my image mutate into that of Wolverine.

    The Economist: Why?

    Javier Milei: Because there are a set of values and ideals that she considers as...the truth is that...I don’t know, I’m happier with the change in appearance.

    The Economist: So you are somewhere between Menem, Presley and Wolverine?

    Javier Milei: Yeah, or Mick Jagger, I don’t know. It’s a mixture of all that.

    The Economist: How did you enter the world of cosplayers?

    Javier Milei: Because I saw [Lilia] doing cosplay and I thought it was fabulous.

    The Economist: Do you like the idea of that, of being a kind of superhero?

    Javier Milei: In fact we created a superhero, General Ancap.

    The Economist: Do you have an outfit?

    Javier Milei: We had [one], now we don’t, that was it. Things come and go at the right time.

    The Economist: So General Ancap has retired. And now you are in Wolverine mode.

    Javier Milei: I am now in Wolverine mode, running for president.

    The Economist: And when you become president, what mode will you be in?

    Javier Milei: In president mode, which is what Argentines need.

    The Economist: And what does it mean to be in president mode?

    Javier Milei: That I will have to devote myself to solving problems so that Argentina becomes great again.
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 09-09-2023 at 10:15 AM.

  21. #48

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  23. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 09-14-2023 at 06:30 PM.

  24. #50

  25. #51

  26. #52
    Javier Milei's take on Ukraine

    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  27. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Javier Milei's take on Ukraine
    ... and?

  28. #54

  29. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    ... and?

    I guess if you Stand with Ukraine and Our Democracy it's not a problem.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  30. #56
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  31. Remove this section of ads by registering.
  32. #57
    Argentina’s far-right presidential frontrunner wants to become Jewish
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  33. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post

    I guess if you Stand with Ukraine and Our Democracy it's not a problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Argentina’s far-right presidential frontrunner wants to become Jewish
    Cope harder.

  34. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    Cope harder.
    I'm not the one coping.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  35. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    I'm not the one coping.
    Obviously not. Seething seems to be a "life skill" you have developed. Coping, not so much.

    I hope that doesn't kill you too young.

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