La Semana

‘ZERO CAPACITY TO SAVE’: Argentines buckle as in ation tops 104%

- By Horacio Soria and Juan Carlos Bustamante

Reuters – Argentina’s annual in.ation rate soared to 104.3% in March, the o3cial statistics agency said on Friday, one of the highest rates in the world, straining people’s wallets and stoking a cost-of-living crisis that has pushed up poverty.

The in.ation reading for the month came in at 7.7%, well above analyst forecasts of 7.1%, marking the fastest monthly rise since 2002 and piling pressure on the government which is contending with angry voters ahead of elections in October.

“I try to think that someday we’re going to be better off. But the in.ation we’re living with today in Argentina is terrible. It feels like never before,” said Claudia Hernansaez, a publishing company employee.

“In my case, I have zero capacity to save.”

The soaring prices have hammered salaries and spending power, pushed up poverty to near 40%, and dented the popularity of the governing Peronist coalition as general elections near.

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.

“The number we see today represents the worst moment of the impact of the war on internatio­nal prices and the worst drought in history in our country,” presidenti­al spokeswoma­n Gabriela Cerruti wrote on Twitter.

“We know, it hurts us, it occupies us, how this affects daily life and every family,” she added, saying the government hoped a downward trend in in.ation would be “re.ected soon.”


For now, every trip to the supermarke­t is a reminder of the country’s in.ationary crisis, the worst since 1991, which was the end of a period of hyperin.ation. 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.”

In.ation 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 in.ation soars, and currently hovers just above 20%. He has not yet concrmed if he will seek reelection for a second term.

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

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