Todd Harrison: Random thoughts
The world's wildest reality show is in full swing this season as corporate earnings, European debt and economic data vie for mind-share.
Lost in the shuffle, however, was one of the bigger stories of 2012.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez announced Monday that her government will seize a 51% controlling stake in YPF - the country's No. 1 oil company - from Spain's Repsol, which had been in deep discussions to sell the stake to China's Sinopec Group for more than $15 billion.
There was no open-market solution, no higher bid, no courtesy call; Argentina just up and nationalized its oil industry, which pretty much means the country also opted out of free-market capitalism.
Will other countries, in lieu of austerity, reclaim their assets? This has a familiar ring to it; indeed, at the Minyanville Summer Retreat in 2006, I said:
"I foresee a growing chasm between the 'haves vs. the have-nots' and a steady deterioration of the middle class. ... Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil and other countries flush with natural resources seem to be losing patience with our reserve currency. We pointed to globalization on the front end of the bubble as rationalization of the rising tide; the other side of 'that' trade is isolationism and protectionism."
I'm not smart enough to know if this will dent psychology - truth be told, stocks thumbed their nose at Argentina's move - but we would be wise to let the implications marinate a bit.
Todd Harrison is the author of "The Other Side of Wall Street" and the founder and CEO of Minyanville, an Emmy Award-winning financial media platform. Read him daily at www.minyanville.com.