Bullrich proposes increasing reserves with new IMF deal

The presidential candidate suggested having a “cushion” for potential runs against the peso

Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich announced on Monday night that she would aim to get another loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if elected president.

“Under a new program — an agreement — with the IMF that would shield us with US dollars, we will end the cepo [the tight currency controls currently in force] as soon as possible,” she said in an interview with La Nación +.

Earlier that day, at an event organized by rural producers, she announced that she would “shield” the economy with an unspecified number of US dollars that “we will negotiate internationally,” without providing further details. 

“We are still not going to say how we are going to get them,” Bullrich said.

She revealed the identity of her potential financial backer on Monday evening — the IMF. Argentina took out the biggest loan in the lender’s history in 2018 under former President Mauricio Macri’s administration, during which Bullrich was Security Minister. The current national administration is still renegotiating the US$44 billion debt.

“We believe that with a serious [economic] plan such as the one we are proposing — with a long-term horizon, with an investment protection law, with regulatory simplification, with a reasonable tax horizon, with a labor reform, we are going to obtain dollars from the IMF,” Bullrich said.

“In this last year, [currency] restrictions took US$18 billion. It is like a Pac-Man that feeds on dollars and more dollars”, said the candidate, who contended that it was important to lift restrictions and have a “dollar cushion” in the Central Bank in order to withstand potential runs against the peso.

Bullrich’s word choice for her plan (“blindar”, Spanish for shielding) echoed the term used in the early 2000s. Argentina signed a US$7.4-billion loan with the IMF at the beginning of 2000 and former President Fernando De la Rúa called the move  “blindaje” — shielding. Bullrich was labor minister at the time.

However, the decision did not contain the ensuing capital fight nor the socio-economic crisis in December 2001, which ended with De la Rúa’s resignation. 

Bullrich rival in the primaries, Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, said that the idea of ending the cepo — and therefore unifying the country’s multiple exchange rates — on the first day of an eventual government “is not serious.”


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