An article on the BBC website reminds that this was the day the Argentine banks, faced with a run, were closed down, allowing only a limited daily withdrawal. The peso was unlinked from the dollar, and inflation soared. The writer had been on the point of buying a flat, and when she got access to her money again it was worth only enough to buy a car. Someone else had dollars, and was able to pay off a mortgage because of an excellent exchange rate... There's been talk of an 'r' word – 'run' – by European economists recently. Of course it was a close call with Northern Rock a few years back, although economists also think of it in terms of the flow of money in and out of central banks.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the flourishing and well-organised short-let business in Buenos Aires. If you have money and don't trust the banks, you buy property and rent it. & I've been told that when you buy property it's usually cash: you have to turn up with a suitcase full of notes, adding another nerve-wracking twist to an already fraught business.
It's interesting to look out on a prospering South American city ten years later, with a largely untroubled cheerful surface, at ease with itself and doing well. Being an immigrant, like being a refugee, means having to cope without a safety net. It means self-reliance, taking nothing for granted, not having time for self-pity. Perhaps Argentina was well-equipped to survive and bounce back, and feels good about itself for doing so.
Tangoandchaos has a graphic account of Buenos Aires from December 3 2001 and the following weeks.