Saturday, December 26

Falling Buses & Exchange Rates

Not everyone had a nice Christmas this year.

1) Peru has one of the highest highway accident rates in Latin America, partly because of the poor condition of the roads in Peru's treacherous terrain and partly because of the lack of enforcement of driving regulations in the country. 

Tragically, this Christmas Eve many families personally felt it. Traveling from Arequipa back to their hometown of Santo Tomas, 40 people died when their bus plunged into a ravine.  BBC News and CBS News both have the international reports on the incident.

2) Only days before Christmas, the Minister of Economy and Finance Luis Carranza resigned and immediately the Peruvian sol (S/.) fell slightly in relation to the dollar. Many people who had their money in soles, not dollars, lost a bit right before the holiday. Why? 

Luis Carranza, a former executive at a multinational Spanish banking group and consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank, was well-respected for the successful economic reforms he carried out during his first term from July 2006-July 2008. He again took the post in the aftermath of the economic crisis in January 2009. 

President Garcia claims that Carranza promised to serve only for one year, and that term has now been filled. But some critics have another perspective. 2010 will be a pre-election year for Peru, and with economist Carranza in charge, politics could not interfere in the "movement" of money, say toward a campaign. But Garcia, and his party APRA, need someone who might understand that, and bow to it. The minister replacing Carranza will be Mercedes Araoz, who has allegedly played a more political role in the past as Minister of Production.

In any case, confidence in the Peruvian economy was shaken a bit on Tuesday. Peruvians and investors worry what this change will mean for the next two years.

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