Opec cartel to reap record $1tn

from the Financial Times..

December 30, 2012, By Javier Blas, Commodities Editor

The Opec oil cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, will pocket a record of more than US$1tn in net oil revenues in 2012 as the annual average price for Brent, the benchmark, heads to an all-time high in spite of weak economic growth.

The windfall will provide fresh capital to some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the most influential members of the cartel, are home to three of the world’s 10 largest SWFs by assets under management, according to estimates by the SWF Institute.

With one trading day left before the year-end, Brent oil prices are on the point of seeing an average for the year of about $111.5 a barrel, higher than the previous all-time high set in 2011 of $110.9.

Link to the whole article:  http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/eedc5b56-50da-11e2-9623-00144feab49a.html#axzz2GfBTtSDH


Estonia: At Europe’s Doorstep, Fierce War Against TB

from The Wall Street Journal..

[Ed.note: This is an important, long article with many other embedded links that  I did not post. Recommended reading for all.]

December 31, 2012,  By Gautam Naik[image]

A tuberculosis clinic at Tartu University Hospital in Estonia.

TARTU, Estonia—All along the edges of Western Europe, new and hard-to-defeat strains of tuberculosis are gaining a foothold, often moving beyond traditional victims—alcoholics, drug users, HIV patients—and into the wider population.

Which is why Irina Nikolajeva, a petite 34-year-old former furniture saleswoman, spent the better part of four months in virtual lockdown here last year. She was resistant to all but one of 10 TB drugs. Nobody could figure out how she even caught the disease.

“NAKKUSOHT!” declared a bright red sign just steps from her tiny, bare isolation room. “DANGER OF INFECTION!” To see her 18-month-old daughter, she initially needed Skype. “I could see my child running around at home,” Ms. Nikolajeva recalled. “She’d say, ‘Hello, Mama.’ ”

Estonia’s aggressiveness—and only recently, its success—in turning the corner against drug-resistant TB offers one of the few bright spots globally as the ancient plague mutates into new and more deadly forms. Indeed, experts say the country, with half the population of Chicago, could be a model for others. But there is one catch: It takes years and some pricey treatments just to gain the upper hand.


“The easy ones are treated,” said Martin Kadai, a public health adviser at Estonia’s ministry of social affairs. The toughest patients, he said, remain.

In Western Europe, drug-resistant strains of TB are starting to make a wider appearance. Last year, Britain reported 421 cases of drug-resistant TB, a 26% jump from the previous year. Most Western Europe cases can be traced to the TB-wracked eastern half of the continent. (In contrast, there were 124 case of drug-resistant TB in the U.S. in 2011.)

Nearby nations, including Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and hard-hit areas in Russia, have sought Estonian advice in their own fight against the disease—and they need it. The 15 countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, together harbor more than 85% of TB cases, and 96% of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, found in Europe, according to the World Health Organization.

“Eastern Europe is in a disastrous situation with MDR-TB and it risks compromising anything you can do” globally, said Mario Raviglione, who has led the WHO’s TB program for nearly a decade.

At least 30% of all new TB cases in Eastern Europe are now resistant to key front-line drugs. The equivalent official rate is 6% for China and 2.1% for India, though the latter is probably an underestimate. (In absolute numbers, India and China have far more multidrug-resistant cases because of their larger populations.)

“There are no borders” for tuberculosis, said Masoud Dara, the WHO’s TB adviser for Europe, based in Denmark. Several countries in the region lack resources for strong TB programs, he said.

A key part of Britain’s response to multidrug-resistant TB is a “virtual electronic committee” that puts the details of newly diagnosed cases on a secure website to be shared with some doctors. Inspired partly by Estonia’s approach, the system was crafted by a group of TB experts who became worried about the rise in British TB cases.

The system isn’t yet recognized by the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, which sets medical guidelines. Because of that, it captures only half of all multidrug-resistant cases in Britain, said Peter Davies, a physician at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and founder of the MDR-TB committee. “We need NICE to recognize the service,” he said. “But I don’t see how this is going to happen in the next year or two.”

A spokeswoman for NICE said it doesn’t usually set guidelines for such projects. In an emailed response, a spokesman for the U.K.’s department of health said that, “despite the rise in cases, drug-resistant strains of TB are still relatively uncommon in the U.K.”

Meantime, along the edges of Western Europe, the expansion of TB among low-risk patients—such as Ms. Nikolajeva here in Estonia—is raising alarms. About 40% of Estonians were apparently healthy when they got infected, just as she was.


In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Manfred Danilovits talked about drug-resistant tuberculosis in Estonia and how it is being treated.


As part of the country’s efforts to rein in the disease, its doctors can under a 2003 law forcibly hospitalize infectious TB patients, which they did about 10 times in 2012. In her case, Ms. Nikolajeva agreed to her hospital stay. She was confined for four months in isolation, in a sparsely furnished room that resembled a prison cell and was painted a gloomy green. Yet it is the country’s unusually harsh regimen of confinement and intensive drug treatment that has helped dramatically slash the number of cases of drug-resistant TB here.

Ms. Nikolajeva received up to six drugs a day, including one by injection. During that time, she occasionally did get to see her husband and their infant daughter, but the meetings had to occur away from her room, in the open air. Tuberculosis is most easily transmitted by inhaling the bacteria that cause it.

If doctors hadn’t hospitalized Ms. Nikolajeva in isolation, “she could have infected even more people in society,” said Manfred Danilovits, a doctor involved in her care and an architect of Estonia’s TB strategy.

The effort has helped the tiny nation stage an effective comeback against both regular TB and multidrug-resistant strains. As recently as 1998 Estonia was one of the leading exhibits in TB’s global hall of shame, reporting 824 cases of all types of TB, a very high level for a relatively prosperous country of only 1.3 million people.

For 2012, the Baltic nation expects to reduce the number of overall TB cases to fewer than 300, and multidrug-resistant cases to 45 from about 100 in 1998. As a result, Estonia is now on the verge of becoming a “low incidence” TB country, according to criteria set by the World Health Organization.

Estonia’s efforts to tame TB are by no means over. About half of the new TB patients each year suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse or HIV, making them the toughest cases.

Nonetheless, “Estonia has done it right,” said Lee Reichman, a TB expert and professor of medicine at New Jersey Medical School in Newark, N.J., who has studied the country’s TB program. “They made TB a priority.”


Irina Nikolajeva was isolated for months for treatment of a drug-resistant form of TB. She didn’t like the idea of being in isolation. ‘But I was terrified that if I went home, I would infect my child,’ she said.

Some 8.7 million people world-wide fell ill with TB last year and 1.4 million died, the vast majority of them in poorer countries. After HIV, tuberculosis is the second-biggest killer world-wide that can be attributed to a single infectious agent.

While Estonia and other countries in the region were under the boot of the Soviet empire, TB was relatively rare. But after the U.S.S.R. collapsed in the early 1990s, the health system foundered. Many patients stopped following the proper TB-drug regimen. That bred mutant resistant strains. Within a few years, Estonia faced a public-health emergency.

The response got kick-started in the mid-1990s when neighbors including Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland—fearful that TB would spill into their territory—offered help. Then Estonia embarked on bolder, homegrown initiatives.

Estonia banned pharmacies from selling TB drugs, in order to prevent patient misuse that can fuel drug-resistance. India is now planning a similar strategy to fight its own TB problem.

All TB-related drugs and hospital stays are now provided free to patients by the government. Estonia benefits from a TB drug-purchasing arrangement it has with the WHO, but it still costs up to $5,000 to treat an MDR patient over a two-year period. In countries that don’t have such arrangements, the tab can reach $10,000 or more.

Also in place is a WHO-promoted plan that encourages patients to come to clinics and take their daily dose of TB drugs under the watchful eye of a health worker. This is to ensure that people stick to the regimen. Missing even a few treatments can allow drug-resistance to build. A patient who follows the regimen for a week is rewarded with a €10 voucher, worth about $13, that can be used to buy various things (but not alcohol).

One of Estonia’s toughest challenges is treating difficult patients who either don’t know they are infected or who simply won’t follow their drug regimen. About 45% of the country’s TB patients, for example, have alcohol or drug problems. So now, when people come in for addiction treatment, they automatically get tested for TB, too, in hopes of catching the sick earlier.

The country has also revamped its creaky Soviet-era lab network with state-of-the-art equipment. On a recent morning, at one of the main TB labs at Tartu University Hospital, a technician used a microscope to study a new patient’s sputum sample. A smattering of fluorescent orange spots could be seen, indicating TB.

The sample would later be placed in another machine for testing against a range of drugs. That step would indicate if the patient had regular TB or the drug-resistant variety. The lab boasts a costly machine, GeneXpert, that can diagnose TB and identify a common type of drug resistance in two hours, compared with older systems that take days.

Estonia is ahead of many countries in this regard. In the U.S., for instance, the device doesn’t yet have regulatory approval for use on TB. India is only beginning to install GeneXpert machines.

Also central to Estonia’s TB effort is the close attention paid to every case. Once a month, a half-dozen TB doctors from across the country gather to discuss patients. Recently, the group assembled in Tartu to go over 35 cases. One was a 51-year-old man with drug-resistant TB. Fed up with being in isolation, he walked away before the treatment was finished.

On a laptop, Dr. Danilovits [picture below] displayed an X-ray of the man’s lung, marked with telltale signs of the disease. The man had been rehospitalized, he said, “But the response hasn’t been good so far.”

In June of last year, Ms. Nikolajeva, the young woman with the toddler daughter, came down with severe bouts of coughing and a weeklong fever. A friend persuaded her to see a doctor, who suspected pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics.


Ms. Nikolajeva felt no better. Her weight fell to 101 pounds from 114 pounds, according to Lea Pehme, another doctor closely involved in Ms. Nikolajeva’s care. In August, after several more tests—X-rays, a skin test and a bronchoscopy—she was finally diagnosed with an especially severe type of multidrug-resistant TB: She was resistant to all but one of 10 drugs.

Her husband and daughter tested negative. “I thought I might not be cured, I might die,” said Ms. Nikolajeva.

Her doctors, too, were “pessimistic,” said Dr. Danilovits, who oversaw her treatment. If all drugs fail, doctors sometimes have no option but to stop providing them entirely. At that stage, there is almost nothing more that can be done.

Ms. Nikolajeva was sequestered in a tiny room in the 25-bed TB hospital in Tartu. She didn’t like the idea of being in isolation. “But I was terrified that if I went home, I would infect my child,” she said.

Too unwell to read, Ms. Nikolajeva passed the time watching a small hospital-supplied TV placed on the window sill. After six weeks, Ms. Nikolajeva was allowed a visit with her husband and daughter. They took a walk in a nearby park.

Ms. Nikolajeva received five or six drugs each day. The powerful medications made her weak and nauseated. One powdered medicine she found especially repulsive. “I would put it on the table and stare at it for 15 minutes” before taking the plunge, she recalled.

One day, a new patient arrived in the room next door. She had two children, including a newborn. But her family lived 200 kilometers away.

“I helped her get through the initial shock of being isolated,” said Ms. Nikolajeva. “We discussed baby matters.”

The new patient taught Ms. Nikolajeva to knit. Ms. Nikolajeva crafted a summer hat for her daughter. “I didn’t know the size,” she said. “I later found out it was too small.”

A year ago in November, Ms. Nikolajeva left the hospital. The TB had largely cleared from her lungs, and she was no longer deemed to be infectious to others. She had regained some weight.

In about three months’ time, provided all goes well, she can stop taking the drugs. It will mark the end of a treatment odyssey that will have lasted two years.

On a recent morning, as snow fell in whispers and winter tightened its grip on this northern nation, Ms. Nikolajeva returned to the clinic to take her daily dose of TB medicines. There, she popped a series of pills and signed a register, with a nurse watching on.

“It was great to pack up my things and finally go home,” Ms. Nikolajeva said. “But there was no celebration.”

Link to his important article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324660404578201593636497964.html?KEYWORDS=Estonia

Ukraine: EastCoal raises £9.5m in Aim listing

from the Financial Times..

December 27, 2012,  By Michael Kavanagh

EastCoal will become the latest mining company to join Aim on Friday, when its shares begin trading on London’s junior market.

The Vancouver-based company, which plans to capitalise on the restructuring of Ukraine’s coal market, has raised £9.5m through the placing of 78m shares at 12.21p each.

In spite of the modest sum raised, backers of the company argue that EastCoal could profit from the re-emergence of Ukraine’s neglected coal mining sector and the involvement of directors who built Western Coal Corp into the biggest company on quoted on Aim.


EastCoal’s decision to target Ukrainian assets comes in spite of a policy by the country’s government to shut down uncompetitive mines while extending privatisation in the sector.

Link to the whole article: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/680b951a-501c-11e2-a231-00144feab49a.html#axzz2GYukhQwk


Nationalist Ukraine party sparks concern

from the Financial Times..

December 26, 2012,  By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev

Screen Shot 2012-12-30 at 2.59.35 PM

Even in Ukraine’s parliament, where brawls and shouting matches are common, the nationalist Svoboda party stands out.

“I told our boys to follow two paths – sharpen their wit in the library, and [beef up their muscle] in the gym. We don’t see other methods to protect our nation,” said party ideologue Irina Farion after fights broke out as the new parliament convened earlier this month.

The small but vocal party commenced its work in Ukraine’s new legislature by dramatically sawing through an iron fence that surrounds parliament and then brawling with pro-presidential lawmakers for two days.

Yet it is not its brawn, but rather the party’s ideology, that is fuelling concern.

Link to the article: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/1a4a7152-4abd-11e2-968a-00144feab49a.html#axzz2GYukhQwk

Vietnam Arrests Dissident Blogger

from The Wall Street Journal..

December 28, 2012, By James Hookway

State-run media Friday reported that lawyer Le Quoc Quan was arrested on his way to drop his daughter off at school in Hanoi on Thursday. In a telephone interview, his wife, Nguyen Thi Thu Hien said he was arrested at about 8 a.m., and police then searched his home. She said police informed her husband that he was being investigated for alleged tax evasion—an allegation she denies.


Le Quoc Quan at a protest in July.

Mr. Quan writes a popular blog in which he has drawn attention to allegations of human-rights abuses in Vietnam.

“I think my husband was arrested because of his political views as he often calls for democracy and a multiparty political system,” Ms. Hien said.

Neither Vietnamese law-enforcement officials nor Mr. Quan could be reached to comment.

Mr. Quan’s detention comes after the arrest or sentencing of several other bloggers this year as Vietnam’s leaders step up their rigorous policing of the Internet. Officials appear to worry about the organizing power of the Web, and have sporadically blocked social-networking sites such as Facebook FB -0.53% and tried popularize their own, state-controlled alternatives instead.

They have good reason to be concerned. As penetration rates quickly rise —more than a third of Vietnamese are now online, a higher percentage than in Indonesia or Thailand—dissidents increasingly are going online to discuss what they view as the country’s failings in its rush to become a modern, industrialized economy.

In recent months, several prominent blogs have emerged to criticize the lavish spending habits and lifestyles of top Communist Party officials, embarrassing the government and prompting Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to attempt to muzzle online criticism.

So far, Vietnamese authorities have focused on legal threats to quash dissent. Technology analysts say the country lacks the sophisticated Internet monitoring and blocking technology employed by China. Hanoi instead resorts to making an example of dissident bloggers, and is working on new laws that would force Vietnamese to use their real names online—a move that Internet-driven businesses worry will stifle the growth of online commerce.

The crackdown also is straining relations with the United States. Washington recently delayed its annual human-rights dialog with Vietnam, and has repeatedly urged Hanoi to allow more space for political debate and to free political prisoners.

Mr. Quan, a lawyer who runs a legal consultancy in Hanoi, is an especially high-profile target on the U.S.’s radar and has been detained several times before for his pro-democracy views.

In 2007, he was arrested after returning from a fellowship at the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, prompting U.S. Senator John McCain and former Secretary-of-State Madeline Albright to request his release. Amnesty International subsequently declared Mr. Quan, a 41-year-old Roman Catholic, to be a prisoner of conscience, and he was released three months later.

Mr. Quan was briefly arrested again in 2011 for attempting to observe the trial of another dissident, and has since accused authorities of orchestrating an often-violent intimidation campaign against him and his supporters.

In an interview with the Associated Press in September, Mr. Quan said he was under constant surveillance but pledged to continue speaking out for freedom of speech.

The prime minister, Mr. Dung, though, last week issued another warning to dissidents to watch their step, instructing police to prevent activists from organizing political groups which he said could “sabotage” the country’s economic growth.

Link to the article:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323300404578206893003292384.html?KEYWORDS=Vietnam

As Argentina Balks Over Debts, Bond Markets Hold Their Breath

from The Wall Street Journal..

December 27, 2012, By James K. Glassman

Argentina’s long-running battle to avoid settling its 2001 default may be approaching its end. More than $1 billion is being contested—but much more is at stake.

A court decision will soon determine whether investors can count on U.S. law to enforce their contractual rights when they lend money to foreign governments. If they can’t, sovereign lending will become a riskier proposition, leading to higher interest rates, higher costs to taxpayers, and a decline in confidence in the global financial system.

After the largest sovereign default in history, Argentina offered foreign governments, financial institutions and individual investors a take-it-or-leave-it 25 cents on the dollar for about $100 billion in outstanding debt. Many of those owed money, including 60,000 Italian pensioners, refused the deal. Seventy-six percent of creditors accepted the deal—far below the 95%-plus that has been the historical norm in negotiated sovereign-debt restructurings. As a result, there are two classes of debt today: “settled” debt (which was exchanged for new bonds) and unsettled, or “holdout,” debt.

Owners of the holdout debt have won more than 100 judgments in New York courts, which is where such matters are adjudicated, according to the terms of the original bonds. Because of its default-ridden history, Argentina was able to raise capital in the United States in the 1990s only by agreeing with private creditors to waive sovereign immunity and subject itself to New York law. But it has reneged on its promises.

On Oct. 26, a federal appeals court panel upheld a district-court ruling that Argentina cannot repudiate its obligations to holdouts and must treat holders of all its debt equally. As U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa had put it, “There cannot be a payment to the exchange bondholders [settled creditors] without court-ordered payments to the plaintiffs [holdout creditors].” Argentina’s immediate reaction was to vow never to pay the holdouts, regardless of the court order.

The legal battle continues, with new legal arguments due to be filed before the full appeals court on Friday. Argentina is opposing the decision to force it to pay all debtors alike and is supported by a group of settled-debt creditors. Holdout creditors want the decision upheld.

But leave the legal details to the lawyers. What should trouble every believer in economic growth through free markets is the specter of Argentina evading its obligations yet again. As Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz stress in their 2011 book, “Invisible Wealth: The Hidden Story of How Markets Work,” “intangible assets” are vital to the global economy. The most important of those assets is adherence to the rule of law and common financial standards, which Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, cheered on by Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, delights in flouting.

Default itself is no crime, and Greece is a good example of a country that, despite intense pain, is now acting responsibly toward its creditors. The danger to markets is that Greece and other heavily indebted countries will be inspired to choose the Argentine Way.

Argentina’s intransigence has been breathtaking. It has stonewalled the Club of Paris, where European countries have been trying for a decade to reach a settlement on $9 billion in loans, and it has ignored adverse rulings by the World Bank’s arbitration panel, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Argentina also faces possible expulsion from the International Monetary Fund for falsifying its economic statistics. A decision there is expected by the end of January. The Economist magazine has refused to list Argentina’s inflation rate, which is officially 10% but which independent analysts place at 25% or more. Argentina has also been broadly criticized for its Chávez-style seizure of the majority stake in Argentine energy firm YPF, which had been held by RepsolREP.MC -3.28% a Spanish oil company.

Yet the rest of the world has let Argentina get away with its behavior. Argentina remains a member of the prestigious Group of Twenty (G-20) charged with relieving the global financial crisis—even though it should be disqualified by any conceivable metrics, as a study I conducted with Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute found in July. The study examined data such as GDP, extent of exports, rule of law, and global financial connections. Argentina still has billions in loans from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, with new IDB loans approved regularly.

To its credit, the Obama administration announced in September 2011 that it would no longer vote in international organizations to approve new loans to Argentina, except for humanitarian reasons. This year Germany, Spain, France, Italy and some other European nations also started voting no in the IDB (the U.K. has abstained).

Unfortunately, those European governments haven’t seen fit to explain their votes and criticize Argentina openly, as the U.S. has. As I learned on a recent visit to Paris, London and Berlin, Europeans worry that Argentina will expropriate their companies, too.

If a rogue Argentina gets off the hook, then confidence in global bond markets will be seriously harmed. Doubts will increase about whether contracts investors hold with foreign government debtors are enforceable. Yes, Argentina has been getting off the hook for years, but markets have always assumed that the country would eventually be held to account. If U.S. courts and European governments back off, then the market effects could be dire.

These are tender times for the global financial system. More than ever, we need smoothly functioning markets, which in turn require confidence that rule of law and sound ethical practices will prevail. Argentina has made a mockery of both, and the rest the world risks paying the price.

Mr. Glassman, a former undersecretary of state, is a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission Advisory Committee. The views in this op-ed are his own.

Link to the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324660404578197912267848812.html?KEYWORDS=Argentina

Argentina Court Declines Intervention in Media Case

from The Wall Street Journal..

December 27, 2012,  By Ken Parks

BUENOS AIRES—Argentina´s Supreme Court turned down a government request to rule on the constitutionality of a media law that has broad implications for press freedoms in the South American nation, marking a setback in President Cristina Kirchner´s legal battle with media empire Grupo Clarín SA.

The high court’s decision reduces the risk of a rapid breakup of Clarín, which has challenged the constitutionality of a three-year-old media law that would force it to sell some of its most profitable assets. The case will now go back to a lower court and is likely to extend for months.

Mrs. Kirchner says the law is needed to create more competition in the media industry, and had accused Clarín of being a coup-mongering monopoly that seeks to undermine her government through biased reporting.

The Kirchner administration sought to bypass the normal appeals court process using a special law the Kirchner-controlled Congress approved earlier this year for legal cases that required immediate resolution. In its decision, the Supreme Court declared the government’s request “inadmissible.”

Mrs. Kirchner and her cabinet members have also exerted pressure on judges to rule in favor of the government’s position. Mrs. Kirchner recently said that judges are akin to military tanks that can be used to overthrow democratic governments.

Clarín and many analysts say the government wants to use the law to silence broadcasters that are critical of the government.

In a separate ruling, the high court also upheld an injunction protecting Clarín from the implementation of the media law and ordered a federal appeals court to quickly rule on the constitutionality of certain articles of the media law.

Justice Minister Julio Alak accused the appeals court that will now take up the case of bias in favor of Clarín. “It has always ruled against the executive branch,” he said in televised comments.

A group that represents the judiciary accused the government earlier this month of abusing its power to influence the media law case. The group, directed by two Supreme Court justices, accused the government of inappropriate attempts to recuse judges, while “defaming” or filing criminal charges against other judges.

Earlier this month, Martin Sabbatella, head of a government media regulatory agency, notified Clarín that the government had begun the process of auctioning off some of its assets. That process, which Mr. Sabbatella said would last around 100 business days, now appears to be on hold.

Legal experts, however, say the appeals process will likely prevent the government from auctioning Clarín’s assets until a final ruling from the court. Clarín spokesman Martín Etchevers declined to comment on the ruling.

Mrs. Kirchner is trying to enforce a media law enacted in 2009 that would strip Clarin of most of its broadcast and cable TV licenses. She says the more than 200 TV, radio and cable licenses Clarín holds give it too much power and muffle other voices.

Supporters of the law say it aims to “democratize” the media by spreading out radio and TV licenses, giving more voices to more people and organizations.

Mrs. Kirchner accuses the company of being a coup-mongering monopoly that seeks to undermine her government through biased reporting.

Clarín’s detractors, including the government, say the company threw its weight around for decades—offering favorable coverage to politicians in exchange for laws or concessions that benefited its business interests. The company denies those accusations.

Link to the article:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323300404578205840695854184.html?KEYWORDS=Argentina