Argentina’s inflation rate for the year skyrocketed to a staggering 109% in April, as reported by the country’s statistics agency on Friday. This figure surpassed analyst forecasts and elicited frustration among consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet. The country, which is an important exporter of grains and holds the second-largest economy in the region, experienced a monthly inflation rate of 8.4% in April, a record high not seen in decades, exceeding analysts’ predictions of 7.5%. The 12-month rate was elevated to an astonishing 108.8%.
This significant price hike has propelled one in every four individuals into poverty, a challenging reality for a country that has grappled with high inflation, cyclical debt, and currency crises for decades. The depletion of the central bank’s reserves now threatens the government’s finances.
At a vegetable stall in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Carlos Andrada, a self-employed worker who is 60 years old, shared his thoughts with Reuters, stating, “They’ve turned us into a country of beggars.” He voiced his desperation as he searched for discounted deals, emphasizing how difficult it is to acquire a tomato or bell pepper, especially after working his entire life.
The highest forecast in a Reuters poll for the monthly inflation rate in April was 8.3%. Daniel Artana, an economist from the consultancy FIEL, mentioned that “The data exceeded all forecasts.” Argentina’s vulnerable economic state has been worsened by a historic drought since last year, which has adversely affected the soybeans, corn, and wheat exports, diminishing foreign reserves and hindering the government’s ability to tackle currency weakness.
Further, the volatility of the foreign exchange market, which witnessed the peso plummet to record lows near 500 to the dollar in parallel markets last month, has further fuelled inflation and strained Argentina’s whopping $44 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Olivia Maria Belbruno, a retiree who is 70 years old, expressed her disappointment while sharing her experience, stating, “When I came last time (to the market), I paid 300 pesos a kilo for bell peppers – it’s 300 pesos a half kilo now. These are the governments we have, and we, the citizens, must think because we are the ones who give them our votes.”
The Peronist ruling coalition is struggling to decrease prices before the primary elections in August and the general election in October. Salvador Paterno, a 64-year-old graphic worker, expressed how the current situation had affected his life, stating, “I’ve stopped going out to eat once a month; we haven’t been on vacation anywhere for four years. We had to sell the car because we couldn’t pay insurance, licenses, and garage costs.”