Argentina Inflation Surpasses 100% As Economic Recession Looms

Argentina’s annual inflation rate surpassed 100% for the first time in more than three decades, putting extra pressure on an economy that’s expected to fall into recession this year.
Argentina Inflation Surpasses 100% as Economic Recession Looms
Argentina Inflation Surpasses 100% as Economic Recession Looms

Argentina’s annual inflation surpassed 100% last month, one of the world’s fastest rates, putting extra pressure on an economy that’s expected to fall into recession ahead of presidential elections this year. 

Consumer prices rose 102.5% in February from a year prior, the highest since late 1991 when the economy was cooling off from 3,000% hyperinflation. Prices rose 6.6% on the month, more than all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of analysts that had a 6% median forecast, according to government data published Tuesday.

Food prices, the largest category in Argentina’s inflation index, spiked nearly 10% from a month prior, fueling the headline increase. In particular, the cost of beef, a staple of Argentines’ diet and national pride, soared as much as 35% in the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area last month, data showed.

What Bloomberg Economics Says

“Lax fiscal and monetary policies are largely behind the rise in Argentine inflation above 100%, despite attempts to tame it with price controls and an unrealistically strong currency”

-Adriana Dupita, economist for Brazil and Argentina 

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Inflation is taking center stage in this year’s presidential elections, challenging both of the top two political parties to entice voters after they failed to stabilize the crisis-prone economy. But at the same time, polls show inflation is voters’ top concern, overwhelming any positive impact from recent economic growth or lower unemployment in the past two years.

President Alberto Fernandez and his divided coalition are struggling to unite behind a clear strategy or candidate. But the coalition of former President Mauricio Macri, whose 2015-2019 government saw the inflation rate more than double to 57%, hasn’t united behind a single candidate either. Outsider candidate Javier Milei is gaining momentum in part due to his proposal to replace the peso with the US dollar as the national currency.

Read More: IMF Sees Argentina Setbacks in Review of $44 Billion Deal (1)

Beyond politics, inflation is ravaging Argentina, wiping out wage gains in an economy where nearly 40% of the population is living in poverty. Neither the business-friendly approach taken by Macri’s administration nor the labyrinth of currency controls and price freezes rolled out under Fernandez have managed to bring consumer prices back under control.

Combined with a rapidly worsening crop drought, accelerating inflation is expected to push Argentina deeper into recession. Analysts now see the economy contracting 3% in 2023 after the government had projected 2% growth in its budget. 

Join the Bloomberg team for a conversation about Argentina’s inflation on Twitter Spaces.

--With assistance from .

(Updates with Bloomberg Economics comment after third paragraph)

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