Friday, September 28, 2007
Let Them Eat Wii!
We were shopping at the Paseo Alcorta shopping mall the other day and we noticed a Nintendo Wii in the window of a store. We about passed out on the spot. The price was a mere AR$3,000. That is $1,000 in US dollars. It was not some ebay scam. It was not due the some crazy inflation rate. That is the actual retail price here.
I love my Wii. We can't imagine life without it. I don't know that I would pay $1000 for one.
It is not just Wii's that are priced so crazy. All electronics here are priced through the roof due to huge import duties. Just the other day I was offered a handsome sum for my video iPod. The offer was more than double what I paid for it and it is even a couple of generations old now.
Most things in the store are made here. The government since the time of Peron has really pushed Argentine economy to be self sufficient. And that policy has helped employ a large number of people. However, this gringo feels they are getting a raw deal.
The stores are filled with inferior goods. We went shopping for baby strollers last week and were looking at paying $200 for a stroller that was not even to the standard of the $19.95 version at Toys R Us. Why? My guess is that the market isn't being allowed to work freely and efficiently and the manufactures here have been insulated from any real competition. Plus the raw goods are harder to come by and more expensive from the duties placed on them.
Another example. My daughter started school way out in the suburbs. Which means she (and we) must get up at the un-Argentine hour of 6:00 to get ready for the bus that comes by at 7:00. Time to get an alarm clock. Only there are none to be found in the stores. At first I thought this was a cultural thing. Why would a country that prides itself on never being on time for anything need alarm clocks? OK, it may be partly due to that. But in reality with limited pesos, why spend money on the overpriced item when the alarm on your cell phone will work just fine.
We were told in our expat orientation meeting at school that if you want to find good quality goods go out to the Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart! Something is seriously wrong with this place if I have to go to Wal-Mart to find "quality".
If they opened the markets here and eliminated the tariffs, prices would come down, the economy would grow the quality of life would increase along with the quality of goods. Sure some local manufacturers would have to close due to the pressure to compete globally. But, BustBuy, CompUSA and the new Argentine equivalents would trip over themselves opening new stores employing more than the factories that did have to close ever did.
Then every boy and girl would be blessed with Wiis and life would be grand. I say let them eat Wiis! Wii tennis anyone?