Ministers of Treasury and Finance Nicolás Dujovne and Luis Caputo, and Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña analyzed the economic landscape in an interview with foreign media. Dujovne provided the most headline-grabbing statements, particularly when he conceded that, as a result of the high volatility the markets have been experiencing during the past weeks and the consequent – sharp – depreciation of the peso, the country will see “somewhat less growth and more inflation” this year.
At the beginning of the year, the government expected the economy to grow by 3 percent and the inflation rate to clock in at 15 percent. Privates, who already considered these targets to be complicated, now deem them unreachable, with inflation expectations closer to 25 percent. Dujovne’s statement confirms it, especially considering that last Tuesday – when Macri announced the beginning of the negotiations with the IMF – he said the inflation target would not change.
The minister went on to say that having a floating exchange rate slows down the pace at which inflation decelerates, but assured the rates will lower once the markets go back to being calm. “The chances for the inflation rate to stay within foreseeable, manageable levels are high,” he said, according to the AP.
When consulted about updates regarding the negotiations with the IMF, Dujovne said that both parties agreed to not talk about it, only indicating that “the funds are aimed at guaranteeing the government’s plans,” making reference to its “gradual” economic policies.
Yesterday, the IMF issued a press release indicating that “An IMF Board meeting on Argentina is scheduled for Friday, May 18. This will be an informal meeting, as part of our usual process of briefing the Board on negotiations for high access IMF programs.”
The Finance Minister, on his end, assured that the exchange rate at the moment the interview was being conducted – of AR $25.30 per US dollar – was at a “reasonable level.” “All variables show attractive, normal levels and good economic foundations. Therefore, the market is analyzing the juncture of the exchange rate,” he said.
Along the same optimistic lines, Peña said that while the world “lost a degree of confidence” in Argentina and the government is aware that “measures to nurture and strengthen it need to be taken, not only the path we have taken is the correct one, but also the pace.” “The real economy continues operating healthily. You don’t see a climate of social tension on the streets. This is restricted to the exchange market,” Peña assured.
The government faces a key day in the economic landscape today, as the BCRA has started auctioning notes known as Lebacs, in order to roll over about AR $674 billion of securities, an event that will signal the level of trust the private sector has in the government’s policies.