One of the greatest Latin American success stories was the privatization of Argentina's YPF in July of 1993 against enormous political and labor opposition. The Kirchner government reversed this hard-won success yesterday with its nationalization of YPF. The nationalized YPF will again become a bloated political rent-seeking machine to pay off Kirchner's supporters. YPF's expropriated partners (mainly Repsol of Spain) will get little.
At about the same time, ExxonMobil signed the only possible deal with Russia's national oil company Rosneft to jointly develop Siberia's energy reserves. The key section of the deal gives Rosneft properties of equivalent value in the United States. This time when Putin decides to expropriate ExxonMobil's investment in Russia, they can take back Rosneft's U.S. holdings. Putin has forced Western energy companies into such "hostage" deals. Let's see if they work.