Archive for January, 2002


Monday, January 14th, 2002
Argentina’s stock market stayed closed today, with authorities unsure if investors can raise the cash they need to trade shares, given government restrictions on bank withdrawals. The Argentine peso held steady today following its 41 percent devaluation last week. The government is trying to patch up strained relations with a main source of new money, the International Monetary Fund, with talk today that an IMF deal might be possible within a month.
By Amy Radil

For Argentine citizens, the profound uncertainty of trying to live as their country’s economy turned to sand is exacting a psychological toll, as Amy Radil reports from Buenos Aires.
Radil:”Buenos Aires has the highest number of therapists per capita of any city in the world some 40,000 in all. But in a city where going to a psychoanalyst has been seen as a rite-of-passage for many teenagers, theorizing about childhood traumas and the unconscious has given way to more immediate worries brought on by the economic and political crisis. Therapist Marta Campo works with outpatients in the mental health program at a local hospital, as well as seeing her own patients at home. She says hospitals have been inundated with requests from middle-class patients, while poorer ones are so busy trying to make ends meet. Even though the hospital offers low-cost counseling, Campo thinks some of her patients may have dropped out of therapy because they cannot afford the bus fare to reach her.
Taking a break from work to visit a nearby cafe, Campo says, with their money stuck in the bank and unemployment so high, many of her patients seem frozen in place, unable to plan even in the short term.”
Campo (translation):”There’s a strong sense of being in shock, of uncertainty and of time standing still. People are waiting to see what will happen.”
Radil: “For one patient, the banking restrictions sparked a suicide attempt. Another patient lost her husband in the Dec. 20 riots that prompted president Fernando de la Rua’s resignation the man was killed by police. Psychoanalyst Iris Pugliese, who treats her patients in a cozy home office, complete with the trademark couch, says patients are now dropping in and out of therapy depending on their ability to pay, making her own workload more erratic. And rather than discussing deep-seated phobias, they want advice on solving their immediate problems - problems that have no immediate solutions. Pugliese says these days therapists have a hard time being objective.”
Pugliese (translation): “Since you’re Argentine too, the problems people come in with also touch you. If someone comes in protesting because their money’s tied up at the bank, I don’t know what to tell him because the same thing is happening to me. We’re all suffering from the same things.”
Radil: “In fact, many analysts are seeking therapy themselves to cope with the extra stress on the job.
But while analysis may not be able to cure Argentina’s woes, Pugliese says, the situation does have some Freudian overtones: she and her patients almost feel like children in a dysfunctional family where the parents keep making up new rules to suit themselves.”
Pugliese (translation): “It’s as if it’s a family where the children feel that the parents lie constantly, always promising things they can’t deliver, and are delinquents on top of everything.”
Radil: “In this analysis, the ‘father’ would be former president Carlos Menem, whose administration in the 1990’s was awash with corruption. Posters of Menem’s face under the title ‘Dirty Insect’ have sprung up around Buenos Aires, and Argentines are quick to blame Menem for getting them into the current crisis. But as an aspiring presidential candidate for the race in 2003, Menem is one father-figure who will likely to haunt the minds of therapy patients around the country.
In Buenos Aires, I’m Amy Radil for Marketplace.”
And that’s the top of our news for Monday. On Wall Street, we’re detecting a sense that investors are less forgiving of weak profits than they’ve been in recent weeks. Today the Dow fell 96 points, less than a percent. The NASDAQ fell 31, or 1.6 percent. Details when we do the numbers.