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Is Argentina’s Shale Boom Safe?

Premature judgments about the fall of Latin America’s left notwithstanding, the pink tide seems to be back in town after Argentina’s national primaries (effectively a nationwide poll ahead of the October elections) saw the opposition candidate, Alberto Fernández, thumping incumbent President Mauricio Macri by a 16-percentage point lead (48 percent to 32 percent). In and of itself a presidential change need not be a problem, were it not for Argentina’s shale production surge that is expected to double the South American nation’s output by 2023 to 1mbpd. The future of Vaca Muerta and Argentina’s shale in general is now frequently put to question, yet are the risks as serious as they are portrayed amidst the market panic?

Let’s start with the facts. The Buenos Aires stock market experienced its second biggest one-day nosedive in history (surpassed only by the 2001 default), with the MERV dropping 48 percent in just one day on August 12. The Argentine peso decreased 15 percent to 52 ARS per dollar. The panic eased on Tuesday, ending the freefall, yet markets remain uncertain where stocks will go next. President Macri did not suffer any official defeat and still harbors ambitions to win, yet his days seem to be counted and the general sentiment has shifted towards a wary contemplation of how populist/interventionist Alberto Fernández will turn out to be.

Despite Macri’s more or less correct portrayal as a pro-market…




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