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Argentine Default-Era Chaos Relived as Blackouts Follow Looting – Bloomberg

Argentine Default-Era Chaos Relived as Blackouts Follow Looting – Bloomberg.

Photographer: Diego Levy/Bloomberg

Cardboard tubes are burned on a street in protest in the Flores neighborhood of Buenos… Read More

For Dominga Kanaza, it wasn’t just the soaring inflation or the weeklong blackouts or even the looting that frayed her nerves.

It was all of them combined.

At one point last month, the 37-year-old shop owner refused to open the metal shutters protecting her corner grocery in downtown Buenos Aires more than a few inches — just enough to sell soda to passersby on a sweltering summer day.

“It was scary,” said Kanaza as she yelled out prices to customers while sipping on mate, Argentina’s caffeine-rich herbal drink. The looting that began in neighboring Cordoba province when police officers left streets unguarded to strike for higher pay had spread to the outskirts of Buenos Aires, sparking panic in Kanaza’s neighborhood. The chaos, she said, was like nothing she had seen since the rioting that followed the South American nation’s record $95 billion default in 2001.

Thirteen years after that collapse, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is running out of time to avert another crisis. The policy mix that Fernandez and her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, used to usher in 7 percent average annual growth over the past decade — higher government spending financed by printing money — is unraveling.

Inflation soared to 28 percent last year, according to opposition lawmaker Patricia Bullrich, who divulges monthly estimates for economists cowed into silence by Fernandez’s crackdown on price reports that clash with official figures. By the government’s count, inflation was less than 11 percent.

Peso Tumble

The peso sank 3.5 percent to a record low of 7.14 per dollar yesterday, according to Banco de la Nacion Argentina, and has plunged more than 25 percent in the past 12 months. That’s its worst selloff since the devaluation that followed the default. Currencies from only three countries in the world have fallen more: war-torn Syria, Iran and Venezuela.

Power outages like the one that sunk Kanaza’s shop into darkness are becoming more frequent, deepening the economic slump, after the nation’s grid atrophied under a decade of government-set electricity price controls. The International Monetary Fund, which censured Argentina last year for misreporting inflation, predicts economic growth will slow to 2.8 percent this year, about half the 5.1 percent average across developing nations.

Fernandez’s biggest financial problem is the loss of foreign reserves. They’ve tumbled 44 percent in the past three years to $29.5 billion as prices on the country’s soy and wheat exports slumped and Argentines circumvented currency controls created to keep dollars onshore. The government sought to stiffen those restrictions again yesterday, limiting people to two online purchases a year from overseas providers.

Default Concern

For a country that remains locked out of international debt markets as it haggles with billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer over lawsuits stemming from the default, the reserves are its main source of dollars to pay holders of $30 billion of bonds who accepted restructuring terms. When other foreign-currency obligations are included, the amount owed swells to $50 billion.

Investors are bracing for the possibility of another default. The country’s average dollar bond yield of 12 percent is the highest among major developing nations after Venezuela. Trading in swap contracts that insure bonds shows investors see a 79 percent probability of a halt in payments over the next five years, a reflection in part of concern that Singer’s demand of full repayment on the securities he kept from the 2001 default will disrupt debt servicing.

New Cabinet

“We’re seeing some sort of day of reckoning,” said Diego Ferro, co-chief investment officer in New York at Greylock Capital Management, which has been investing in the country’s debt since the 1990s. “The adjustment will have to happen if Argentina doesn’t want to hit a wall before 2015.”

Fernandez, 60, has overhauled her cabinet and reworked some policies in a bid to stem the capital flight. In her first day back on the job in November following surgery to remove a blood clot near her brain, she replaced the economy minister, cabinet chief, agriculture minister and central bank president. A day later, Guillermo Moreno, the trade secretary who played the strongman enforcing price controls, was gone.

The new cabinet pledged to work with the IMF to improve data, began talks to settle $6.5 billion of overdue debt with Paris Club creditor nations and unveiled plans to compensate Spain’s Repsol SA for the seizure of its local oil unit in 2012. Bonds advanced, driving yields on the country’s benchmark securities to a one-year low of 11.07 percent on Nov. 29.

Patagonia Getaway

Ferro doubts the measures are enough. Bolder steps, such as reaching a deal with Singer to regain access to overseas markets and lifting currency controls, are needed to regain investor confidence, he said. The bond rally began to falter in early December. By mid-month, all the gains had been erased.

An Economy Ministry spokeswoman didn’t return telephone calls seeking comment on the government’s financing plans.

Fernandez is giving no indication of what her next move is. After re-appearing following the five-week absence for surgery, she vanished again, spending much of December holed up in her 5,600-square-foot (520 square meters) brick villa in Patagonia. She went another five weeks without making a public appearance before unveiling a new student aid program before supporters in the presidential palace last night.

And that’s perhaps what angers Argentines like Miguel Llanes the most. While the looting spread across the country from Cordoba and the blackouts dragged on day after day in the capital city, Fernandez was nowhere to be seen. Llanes, unable to open his curtain shop in downtown Buenos Aires for over a week, vented by joining protesters who were burning tires and garbage in the streets.

“Where was the president?” he shouts.

And then he raises a question that holders of $50 billion of Argentine bonds are dying to know.

“How long will this last? They’ve spent all the money.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in London atcdevereux3@bloomberg.net; Camila Russo in Buenos Aires at crusso15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Laura Zelenko at lzelenko@bloomberg.net

Winter weather blasts Central, Atlantic Canada – Canada – CBC News

Winter weather blasts Central, Atlantic Canada – Canada – CBC News.

Snow plows prepare to clear slushy streets in Toronto on Monday as forecasters warn freezing rain will turn roads in much of Southern Ontario into ice paths. Snow plows prepare to clear slushy streets in Toronto on Monday as forecasters warn freezing rain will turn roads in much of Southern Ontario into ice paths. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Prairies deep freeze

Prairies deep freeze 2:33

Newfoundland power update

Newfoundland power update1:24

Storm hits Atlantic Canada

Storm hits Atlantic Canada2:18

 

 

The relentless weather is causing misery this morning across much of Canada, with southern Ontario hit with freezing rain, wind-chill warnings in some parts of the Prairies and 30,000 Newfoundlanders still in the dark after a mass power outage on the weekend.

 

 

In Ontario, parts of the province were hit with massive snowfalls, while other areas, including the Toronto region, were pelted with snow and freezing rain.

 

CANADA/Both drivers and pedestrians in Toronto are being urged to be aware of a possible flash-freeze in time for Monday’s rush hour. (Devaan Ingraham/Reuters)

“In southern Ontario, that temperature is starting to drop and quickly,” CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said Monday morning. “That slushy mix on the roads is icing up quickly.”

Both drivers and pedestrians are urged to be aware of a possible flash freeze during the morning commute. A flash-freeze warning comes when a steep temperature drop causes water from rain or melted snow to quickly freeze.

The weather wreaked havoc at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Monday morning, with hundreds of flights cancelled or delayed. Both Air Canada and WestJet advised customers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

Due to weather, please check with your airline for delays or cancellations and give yourself extra time to get to the airport safely.

— Toronto Pearson (@TorontoPearson) January 6, 2014

“I wasn’t five minutes here at the airport before people started telling me horror stories of being stuck on an airplane for hours on end,” CBC reporter Linda Ward said from the airport.

“Passengers are telling me their planes just couldn’t get to the gate because of so many cancelled planes, so it’s definitely a very frustrating scene here this morning … The people who were on those planes [are] very angry, very tired, very hungry … They say all in all this was just a horrible travel experience.”

Environment Canada extended wind-chill and flash freeze warnings for the Toronto area on Monday morning, warning temperatures will feel as cold as –35 C to –40 C Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

A mix of snow and rain in Toronto, and snow further north, produced hundreds of accidents on the roads and highways Sunday evening, including one crash in Brampton that left one man dead.

Local school boards warned parents to check online Monday morning to see if any schools cancelled classes for the day. The Toronto Catholic District School Board said it would release a decision by 6 a.m. ET and the Toronto District School Board warned of potential closures.

Much of Quebec was also facing adverse weather warnings Monday morning. Environment Canada issued winter storm, freezing rain and wind warnings for most of the province.

Storm wallops Atlantic Canada

The winter weather blast also left much of Atlantic Canada under weather advisories.

  • Police advise motorists, including all officers, to stay off the roads as dangerous whiteout conditions brought on by snow and wind continue to lash much of Atlantic Canada. Here, a pedestrian in Halifax braves the blizzard.
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“Atlantic Canada is a real mess … where I see the risk of freezing rain continuing this morning as a warm front pushes north,” Scotland said.

“For much of the Maritimes, this will switch over to rain through the morning and early afternoon … and further east warnings are out for Newfoundland who deal with this mess tonight through tomorrow — gusty wind, freezing rain and heavy rain.”

Environment Canada issued freezing rain warnings for most of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Nova Scotia was under freezing rain and rainfall warnings, while Newfoundland was under freezing rain, blizzard and wind warnings.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, about 30,000 Newfoundland Power customers were still without electricity Monday morning after a power plant went offline in the latest power problem to hit the province in recent days.

Residents and businesses throughout the province were told to conserve energy as the province grapples with rolling power outages.

As generation becomes avail. from @nlhydro we are continuing to add customers. Conservation is still extremely important. #darknl

— Newfoundland Power (@NFPower) January 6, 2014

Aging infrastructure, a terminal station fire and a blizzard that ripped through the province Friday night combined to overburden an already stretched electricity grid, according to Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

At the peak of the power outages Saturday morning, about 190,000 customers were in the dark, Newfoundland Power said.

Prairie deep freeze

Meanwhile, much of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are under extreme wind chill warnings, where residents are facing temperatures that feel as cold as –40 C with wind chill.

“To the east, wind chill warnings are out from Hanna in eastern Alberta through southern Saskatchewan [and] Manitoba,” Scotland said.

“Across this warned area, current temps are well into the – 30s C with wind chills well into the – 40s.”

The potentially record-low temperatures are heightening fears of frostbite and hypothermia.

“Persons in or near this area should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions,” warns Environment Canada.

Blackout: The Layered Approach to Coping | project chesapeake

Blackout: The Layered Approach to Coping | project chesapeake. (source)

By: Tom Chatham

The electrification of the nation and to a larger degree the technology now seen as a necessary part of American life, are the Achilles heel of life in this country today. From cooking to sanitation to transportation to communication, most Americans can no longer do even menial day to day tasks without some kind of electrically powered equipment. We have come to rely on technology more and more as a crutch rather than a lever.

We have been blessed as a society to have tools that can multiply our strengths while covering up our weaknesses. When technology fails on a monumental scale, those strengths disappear and our weaknesses are laid bare before us. When this happens we must cope with it one way or another. Society has become so fragile today that the coping mechanism of most people is a distant memory relegated to our forefathers who could convert a four legged creature into their next meal.

Coping is a matter of knowledge and equipment. The more of both that you have in a situation, the more coping ability you will have. Ever wonder why a soldier heading off to war is so cocky? Knowledge and equipment. If you have good equipment and know how to use it your confidence is through the roof when something happens. It gives you the sense of control you need to overcome obstacles. Of the two, knowledge is by far the most important item to have. You may not have any equipment but if you need to start a fire and know 10 ways to do it without matches, you will eventually find what you need to make it happen. Knowing what to look for is the key to overcoming that obstacle.

When the power disappears and you are left with a room full of electronic paperweights, you need to have the knowledge and equipment to move to the next level of sustainability to cope with the problem. On one end of the spectrum you have full service, full bore idiot proof electrification to do most of your thinking for you. On the other end of the spectrum you have the clothes on your back and the mush between your ears with the power of a small appliance bulb. Knowledge turns that small appliance bulb into a finely tuned laser capable of destroying any obstacle. With the proper knowledge and equipment you can maintain your sustainability near the upper end of the spectrum no matter how bad it gets.

There are different levels to preparing for loss of power. It can go from a temporary loss for a few hours to total loss of all electrical equipment for years. The greater the problem is the lower down the levels you will go making sustainability more challenging. The following levels will deal mainly with power concerns so only brief mention will be given to food, water, sanitation and security concerns. FEMA recommends that every home have a two week supply of food and water. That should be a minimum.

Level one – normal operations with full access to electrical devices and power

Level two- disruption of power systems for less than 24 hours

Level three- loss of power systems up to two weeks

Level four- loss of power systems for two weeks or longer

Level five- catastrophic destruction of power systems and some electrical devices

Level six- catastrophic destruction of power systems globally along with most or all electrical devices

Level one- All systems are functional and nothing out of the ordinary is experienced. All creature comforts are available and accessible.

Level two- Power disruptions are experienced for any of a number of reasons. The power outage will require some alternate systems to be employed to maintain normalcy. Refrigeration will cease so units should remain closed to prevent frozen foods from defrosting. Alternative power systems may include generators, power inverters or alternate energy systems to maintain limited power requirements although for this level no power is likely necessary given the short duration. This level is a survivable event even without preparations except for individuals that require medical devices for lifecare which must be addressed. As a minimum, flashlights, portable radios, candles and matches/lighters should be kept. Foods such as dry cereal, power bars and fresh produce will be sufficient to maintain most people until power returns. Bottled water, fruit juice and sodas will provide sufficient hydration under most circumstances until power returns. The security situation should be relatively normal in most cases.

Level Two

Flashlights
Extra batteries
Portable radio
Candles
Matches/lighters
Fire extinguisher 5 lb.
1st aid kit

Level Three- After the initial 24 hrs. power disruptions will start to have serious consequences for society. Refrigerated foods that are not eaten risk spoilage. People will begin to suffer from dehydration as water supplies disappear. After 72 hrs. the security situation will degrade sufficiently in urban areas to become a threat. At this level an alternative energy source is necessary to maintain living standards at acceptable levels. A generator can be utilized to maintain refrigeration and charge batteries. Generators only provide power when running and they use a lot of fuel when run continuously so to make the best use of small fuel supplies a generator should only be run a few hours in the morning and in the late afternoon to maintain refrigeration, charge batteries and cook food. The remainder of the time a power inverter/battery pack can provide limited power for CF lights and communications to keep informed. This system will provide you with power 24/7 while using the least amount of fuel which will likely be difficult to find. To conserve power, camping equipment can fill some needs such as propane for cooking and lighting. A pressure cooker can also reduce power usage by allowing some foods to be cooked much faster. Sanitation during this time will become more difficult. Urban systems will require a portable system to be used while independent septic systems will only require a supply of water to continue functioning. For apartment dwellers, a battery/inverter system recharged with a vehicle may be the most viable system for electrical power while using propane for cooking. A two week food and water supply would get you through this level.

Level Three

All level two items plus

Generator
Fuel – 5 gal. to 50 gal. depending on duration
3,000w power inverter
Deep cycle batteries
HD Extension cords
Sanitation, town system – portable toilet and waste storage means. Water to bathe
Sanitation, septic system – water supply to flush and bathe, 5 gal./person/day
Heat source to cook – Camp stove, grill, hot plate
Propane – for stove/grill 1 lb. per day
Water storage – drinking/cooking/sanitation
Manual can opener
CF bulbs
Water filter
Pressure cooker 4 qt.
1st aid kit
Defense weapon and ammo

Level Four – If this level is reached it is assumed that food and water supplies are not being transported so it is no longer viable to stay in an urban area and relocation to a less populated area is likely necessary. Without power a sustainable situation will require resources and space that are only possible in suburban or rural areas. This level can last months or even years depending on the situation. Because the duration will not be known at the time, it must be assumed at this point that the situation will continue for some time and a sustainable system of power and supply must be utilized. Renewable energy systems and food production will be a core necessity of this level. Propane appliances would be beneficial especially for refrigeration.

Level Four

All items in level three plus

Fuel Storage – 500 gal.
Propane – 400 lbs.+
Solar Panels – 1kw +
Additional deep cycle batteries
Wind turbine – 500w +
Wood gassifier system
Wood stove -Alternate source of heating/cooking
Tools – Chainsaw w/maintenance eq. & oil, ax, wood saw
Source of wood
Seeds
Garden tools
Canning supplies
Pressure cooker 21 qt.
Source of water / rain catchment system
Hunting weapon and ammo
Fishing supplies
Salt – 100 lbs +
Medical supplies

Level Five – This situation will likely result from an EMP/CME of limited duration and scope. In this instance some devices may still work if power is available so alternate sustainable systems must be utilized. Destruction of major components may impede recovery for many months making self sufficiency a key to survival. The difference between levels four and five are that a level five situation would likely disable or destroy electrical equipment that would be difficult to replace short term. In level four this equipment is still usable if the necessary power can be found to run it.

Level Five

Generator- inside a faraday cage for storage
Wood gassifier system
Tools – ax, wood saw
Solar panels/wind turbine/hydropower
Deep cycle batteries
Woodstove – heating and cooking
Canning supplies
Seeds
Garden tools
Pressure cooker 21 qt.
Source of water / rain catchment system
Candles
Matches/lighters
Fire extinguisher 5 lb.
Hunting weapon and ammo
Fishing supplies
Salt 100 lbs. +
Misc. medical supplies w/antibiotics
Mountain bike
Tube type radio – DC power

Level Six – This level would be the result of severe space weather or earth changes that cause catastrophic damage to electrical components worldwide. The damage to electrical equipment would be complete making recovery of technology a long and difficult process. With technology destroyed, sustainable systems from the past would have to be revived to provide the necessities of society. This is the worst case scenario. Alternative mechanical systems would be needed to rebuild the technology base. Computer chips are the pinnacle of our technology and the production of them requires several layers of technology to produce unlike the casting and assembly of things such as an engine.

Level Six

Wood cookstove
Tools – ax, wood saw, files
Canning supplies
Seeds
Garden tools
Pressure cooker 21 qt.
Source of water / rain catchment system
Water filter
Candles
Matches/lighters/flint
Fire extinguisher 2 – 5 lb.
Hunting weapon and ammo
Fishing supplies
Salt 100 lbs. +
Misc. medical supplies w/antibiotics
Mountain bike w/repair parts
Grain mill
Blacksmithing tools
Spinning wheel
Floor loom
Mechanical clock
Gramophone w/vinyl records
Typewriter w/extra ribbons
Slide rule
Gas appliances – refrigeration, heating, cooking, hot water, lighting
Bio-gas production unit
Steam engine – machine power
Hydro systems – machine power

While this listing is not exhaustive, it provides a window into the various levels a person will encounter over different time spans and situations. Some forethought about your particular living situation will allow you to devise a plan that will allow the least amount of deprivation during the situation you encounter. The time to prepare is before the lights go out. Once it happens it is too late. When this happens, the lack of resources will make your well being entirely dependant on the knowledge you carry. In this instance, knowing what to do if you are caught without resources will allow you to react quickly and decisively in the first few critical hours of an event.

A brief look at the various levels of potential blackout will help you determine what resources are best suited to your particular circumstances. Every plan needs to be tailored to individual needs and expectations. In a level six situation, most of the equipment to repair the technology base will be destroyed so antiquated technology systems will be essential to long term recovery. Since most of this old technology is no longer common knowledge, the storage of this knowledge is necessary outside of the technology systems for later retrieval. This can also be said for any necessary knowledge during short term situations as well.

In November 2003 NASA detected a CME that they later determined to be at the X28+ level. Fortunately this was not directed toward Earth. If it had interacted with Earth we would be living in a very different world today. In 2005 an X17 was recorded and in 2006 an X9 was recorded just to give an idea of how often and extreme these occurrences are. You must decide what level you should prepare for and seek the means to overcome the situation. When you prepare for the worst case scenario, you will be well prepared for almost any contingency and anything less should be easily handled, but that level of preparedness is a personal choice.

Coping with the loss of technology is a personal responsibility that cannot be farmed out to others. When the unexpected happens it is the responsibility of the head of the household to continue to care for their family no matter what situation they find themselves in. It is always good to have outside help when the unexpected happens but to rely solely on others in these circumstances is to put your family at great potential unnecessary risk.

 

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