Argentina’s yearly inflation soars to 288%

Monthly inflation cooled to 11% as savage government austerity takes its toll

Inflation in Argentina is now running at 287.9%, figures released on Friday afternoon by the government’s INDEC statistics bureau showed. The number, 9.7 points higher than February’s, indicates that Argentina’s runaway price hikes remain the worst in the world.

Monthly inflation cooled to 11% in March, a two-point drop from February, according to the report. The number marks the third monthly decrease in a row after it hit 25.5% in December, the highest since February 1991.

Cumulative inflation for the first three months of the year reached 51.6%. 

The biggest monthly increase was in education, which was driven up 52.7% by the rise in private school fees. It was followed by telecommunications, up 15.9% mainly due to phone and internet bills. Then came housing, up 13.3% off the back of rising electricity bills.

“The recession, the drop in revenues, and the drop in sales are the reasons behind the lower rate,” said Sebastián Menescaldi, associate director of EcoGo consultancy, adding that it was “not good news.”

According to the Argentine Confederation of the Small and Medium Enterprises (CAME, by its Spanish initials), small business retail sales fell 12.6% in March compared with the same month of last year. 

With inflation outstripping the depreciation of the peso, the country is getting more expensive in U.S. dollars. Some analysts have questioned whether the 2% monthly crawling peg of the peso, which the Central Bank has maintained since December’s 54% devaluation, is sustainable. Exporters are pushing for the monetary authority to accelerate the pace of devaluation.

EcoGo forecast that inflation would fall to 12.5% in March and tumble further in April. “Despite the impact of the increase in gas, water, and other tariffs, it is feasible that [monthly] inflation will be around 9 or 8% this month and continue to fall in the coming months,” Menescaldi told the Herald.

The Central Bank’s market expectation survey, which averages economic figures forecast by 45 consultancies and banks, predicted a 179% inflation rate for the whole of 2024 — roughly 31 points less than in 2023.

Menescaldi said monthly inflation figures are still high due to the post-devaluation price adjustment, especially concerning services and salaries, and that demand and costs will determine inflation going forward. “If the government manages to reduce uncertainty and set expectations in the short term, it will be able to deflate the economy faster,” he said.

Milei quotes spoof bot inflation figures

Members of the national government have claimed prices are coming down due to President Javier Milei’s harsh austerity measures.

On Monday, Milei celebrated falling monthly inflation in an interview with streaming channel Neura Media. However, he cited his source as the “Jumbo bot” X account, allegedly a bot measuring inflation in a supermarket chain. 

“It shows deflation, prices are dropping. We went from a 5.22% [weekly inflation rate] to -4.52%,” he said. “Inflation is going to fall like a piano.” 

That night, the user admitted they were not a bot and did not, in fact, measure prices. “But it was useful for one thing: showing the need that many have to show results that reality denies them,” Jumbo Bot wrote in a post that soon became viral.

Economy Minister Luis Caputo also used Jumbo Bot as a source. 

The head of the INDEC, Marco Lavagna, posted on X that “official statistics are an irreplaceable public good.”


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