Argentine president Mauricio Macri during a state visit to Brazil. Image: Agencia Brasil do Fotografias/Flickr
By Cynthia J. Arnson
Director, Latin American Program
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
In late January, Argentine government officials finally had some encouraging data that a long hoped-for economic rebound might actually be materializing. Figures from the national statistics agency INDEC showed that month-on-month economic activity went up 1.4 percent between October and November, the second straight month of increase. An internal government document leaked to Clarín in January estimated that growth had increased by close to one percent in the last quarter of 2016. While this was a far cry from the optimistic scenario painted by former Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, who was sacked last December, the numbers are feeding a narrative by the government of President Mauricio Macri that the Argentine economy is on a clear path to recovery. According to Minister of Production Francisco Cabrera, “all the conditions are in place for Argentina to grow between 3.5 and five percent” in 2017.
The numbers may be exaggerated, but with elections taking place in October 2017 to renew a third of the Senate and half the House, the Macri government has every reason to emphasize the positive. The economy shrank during Macri’s first year in office—by 1.8 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or as much as 2.3 percent, according to World Bank figures. Inflation is widely estimated at 40 percent although the rate of increase has begun to slow. …
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