Argentine economy 2023: forecast and projections

The IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, and independent consultants agree that Argentina’s growth is decelerating – but disagree on the rate of deceleration

by Facundo Iglesia
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Local and international analysts have forecast the key figures for Argentina’s economy in 2023, and their conclusions differ broadly, with GDP growth projected to be between 0.4% and “more than three points”. However, international financial institutions, national consulting firms and the government all agree that high inflation will slow the country’s growth in 2023.

IMF

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s official website, Argentina’s GDP will grow by 2% and inflation will drop to 76.1% in 2023.

In its third review of the renegotiated US$44 billion deal with the country, the international lender said that “inflation is still high and unanchored, reserves are low, and confidence needs further strengthening”. However, the Fund praised Minister Sergio Massa’s austerity policies. “Tighter macroeconomic policies since July are starting to bear fruit—inflation is moderating, the trade balance is improving, and reserve coverage is gradually strengthening,” they wrote.

Next year, as per the agreement with the IMF, the country must reach a 1.9% fiscal deficit. 

The agency also predicted a global GDP growth rate of 2.7% in 2023.

REM

Banks and consulting firms that responded to the Argentine central bank’s Market Expectations Survey (REM) last month predicted, on average, that the country’s GDP will grow by 0.5% in 2023. According to the REM’s 10 best forecasters, the country’s economy will expand by 0.8%. They expect the situation to improve in 2024, predicting an average growth rate of 1.4%.

As for the inflation rate, they expect a 98.4% hike for this year. The REM forecasters also expect an 89.9% devaluation, meaning that the official exchange rate would be at AR$328.32 to the US dollar.

It’s worth noting that, in December 2021, the REM forecasters predicted 2.6% GDP growth and 54.8% inflation for 2022.

World Bank

The World Bank revised its June GDP growth forecast for Argentina down by 0.5 percentage points to 2% in a report published Monday, pointing to high inflation and controls on capital and imports.

In its January “Global Economic Prospects” report, the international financial institution highlights “stronger than expected” estimated growth of 5.2% in 2022, but warns that this year’s deceleration will reflect the “constraints on domestic activity related to the high inflation environment” in a “highly challenging” context.

The World Bank added that weakening foreign demand will also have a negative impact on the country’s exports, while “capital, import, and price controls continue to complicate the business environment”.

The “Nestor Kirchner” gas pipeline could benefit fiscal and current accounts by lowering energy imports, the report said. The Argentina section of the report concludes by saying that the country needs to “reduce inflation from recent rates of above 80 percent (year-on-year), while also allowing the peso to depreciate and reforming energy subsidies”.

As for the global economy, the World Bank expects it to grow by 1.7% in 2023 and 2.7% in 2024.

OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicted in its November report an expansion of 0.4% for Argentina, down by 1.5 points from its June forecast. They also expect the country to grow 1.8% in 2024. “The agreement with the IMF has significantly reduced uncertainty about short-term macroeconomic policies, but the external situation remains fragile,” they wrote.

They added that high inflation will weigh on private consumption and will take time to recede. “Tight capital controls and policy uncertainty are leading to a sharp fall in investment in the second half of 2022,” they added, and concluded that “their persistence will allow only a modest recovery in 2023 and 2024.”

The organization forecasts a global GDP growth rate of 2.2% for the entire year.

FocusEconomics

LatinFocus Consensus Forecast, Spain-based FocusEconomics consulting firm’s Latin American report, forecasted that Argentina’s GDP will expand by 0.2% in 2023. In its December report, the company’s analysts wrote that “growth will almost grind to a halt next year”.

FocusEconomics added that “domestic demand will be buffeted by sky-high inflation and interest rates, depleted savings and an uncertain business environment ahead of the

general elections in October 2023”. They also said that, on top of this, a “weaker global

economic environment” will cap the export growth, and that “elevated debt repayment risks cloud the outlook”.

They also projected a 48.3% peso depreciation, citing “continued money printing and elevated inflation” as the main causes.

As for inflation, they expect it to reach 95.5% in 2023.

The national government

In the 2023 national budget bill, which passed last November in Congress, the national government expects a 60% inflation and a 2% growth for the year. According to the government’s roadmap for this year, the exchange rate will reach AR$269.90 for each dollar.

Economy Minister Sergio Massa believes that his GDP growth prediction was conservative. In December, he said his goal for this year is for the economy to expand by “more than three points,” a figure that wasn’t in any of the forecasts compiled by the Herald. To tell the truth, none of those entities could either predict Argentina’s growth for 2022 back in 2021 – so, as it is usual for the Argentine economy, nothing is off the table.

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