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Sigh.

Argentina finished 2017 with the second highest inflation rate in Latin America. The 24.8 percent rate that the Indec statistics agency reported yesterday means that in this ranking, the country only “trails” behind Venezuela, which has been immersed in an catastrophic economic, social and institutional crisis for years.

According to their Asamblea Nacional – the Venezuelan Parliament, where the opposition holds a majority – inflation in the Caribbean country in 2017 reached 2,616 percent. (That’s not a typo, by the way). The Nicolás Maduro regime doesn’t release official statistics anyway and, if it did, it probably wouldn’t enjoy much credibility.

However, the rest of the ranking shows that prices in Argentina increased significantly more than in the rest of the other countries in the region. Mexico ended in third place, but its inflation was practically a third of Argentina’s – 6.77 percent – and at the same time it was also the country’s highest rate since 2000.

The countries that followed had similar figures: Uruguay’s inflation hit 6.55 percent; Guatemala and Nicaragua’s at 5.68 percent and Colombia’s at 4.09. Brazil, on its end had an annual inflation rate of 2.95 percent. This means that in December, prices in Argentina increased more than they did in Brazil in all of 2017. The countries with the lowest inflation rates were El Salvador (2 percent) and Peru (1.36 percent). Ecuador was the only country in the region where prices went down, as it finished the year with a deflation rate of 0.2 percent.

Assuming the other countries will manage to keep their respective inflation rates relatively stable during the next years, the country is set to keep this unwanted second place. If the approach towards inflation taken by the Macri administration goes absolutely smoothly – it has not so far – from now on, Argentina would only be able to go down in the ranking in 2020, year in which the government intends to have an inflation rate of 5 percent.

The Central Bank had been targeting an annual inflation rate of 10 percent for 2018, but knowing it was going to miss its goal for this year by several points – it ended up being 7.8 percent higher than its most pessimistic goal of 17 percent – it revised its annual targets on December 28 and set them at 15 percent for 2018, 10 percent for 2019 and finally 5 percent for 2020.