Argentina buckle under 103% inflation

7 months ago 48

Argentines, painfully accustomed to decades of spiraling prices, say that the current 102.5%-and-climbing inflation rate is on another level and is making it almost impossible to get by.

“In my case, I have zero capacity to save,” said Claudia Hernansaez, a publishing company employee.

“I try to think that someday we’re going to be better off. But the inflation we’re living with today in Argentina is terrible. It feels like never before.”

The South American country is expected to announce March inflation data on Friday afternoon, with analysts polled by Reuters predicting an 8-month high 7.1% monthly rise. A central bank poll forecasts annual inflation to hit 110% this year.

That has hammered salaries and spending power, pushed up poverty to near 40%, and dented the popularity of the ruling Peronist coalition, which is facing likely defeat in general elections slated for October.

The country, a major global grains exporter, is also grappling with one of its worst droughts in history, that has hammered soy, corn and wheat crops, knocking billions off the economy from lost exports and fanning domestic prices.

Now every trip to the supermarket is a reminder of the country’s inflationary crisis, the worst since 1991 and the end of a period of hyperinflation. Retiree Juan Tartara said prices spiked with each weekly visit to the store.

“Sometimes food increases 10% or 15%,” he said. “In one year, beef went from around 1,000 pesos ($4.66) or 1,200 pesos to 2,800 pesos.”

Inflation will likely be one of the deciding issue for voters in the October elections, where libertarian economist Javier Milei has been gaining traction in the polls with his promises to break the status quo.

President Alberto Fernandez’s approval rating has decreased as inflation soars, and currently hovers just above 20%. He has not yet confirmed if he will seek reelection for a second term.

Paola Lavezzari, also in publishing, said inflation was forcing her to tighten the purse strings and buy cheaper products.

“The first thing you lose is the quality of the product. Because what you used to consume of a better quality, today is unaffordable,” she said.

“Things were always maybe 10 pesos more, but now it’s 100 pesos more. … When you make the monthly shopping trip, it’s so much. The difference is huge.”

($1 = 214.6700 Argentine pesos)