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ARGENTINA | 13-09-2019 23:11

What we learned this week: September 8 to 13

Key stories from the last seven days.

INFLATION ON THE RISE (AGAIN)

On Thursday, the INDEC national statistics bureau announced four percent inflation for last month with core inflation of 4.6 percent – the year’s highest monthly inflation after the lowest in July (2.2 percent) before the PASO primaries. Inflation so far this year totals 30 percent and 54.5 percent for the last 12 months – this year’s inflation is thus sure to overtake last year’s 48 percent .

BUDGET SCEPTICISM

A day earlier, on Wednesday, the government’s economic team submitted the 2020 Budget for consideration by Congress as from next week with figures which immediately triggered the scepticism of most economists – one percent of mostly export-led growth, 34 percent annual inflation, an exchange rate of 67 percent per dollar and a fiscal surplus of one percent of gross domestic product with the balance of payments also in the black.

IMF SEEKING DELAY IN CASH DELIVERY

According to insistent press reports yesterday, the Inter- national Monetary Fund (IMF) will not be remitting the next tranche of US$ 5.4 billion due this mid-month until Argentina has a new president or at least president-elect. Finance Minister Hernán Lacunza will have to resolve this and other issues when he flies up to Washington later this month for the annual assemblies of the World and Inter-American Development Banks. (See Page 12)

DOLLAR WATCH

The dollar closed the week at 58.44 pesos (57.45 in Banco Nación), less than half a peso up from the previous week’s levels, although hovering around 60 pesos in the rapidly growing unofficial markets.

PROTESTERS SET UP CAMP ON AV. 9 DE JULIO

Having occupied and blocked the Avenida 9 de Julio thoroughfare for over a day the previous week, social organisations escalated their protest to more than 40 hours this week, only lifting camp yesterday. On Wednesday, there were clashes between demonstrators and police, with images emerging of protesters with bloodied faces.

‘FOOD EMERGENCY’ BILL

On Thursday, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved the Food Emergency Bill with 222 of the 257 deputies voting in favour and only one FIT leftist deputy abstaining (presumably on the grounds of considering the assistance insufficient). The bill – which now goes to the Senate and looks likely to be supported by Cambiemos in the upper house too – would double the current budget allocation of 10 billion pesos for school and other canteens.

CORREO ARGENTINO RULING

On the grounds of “institutional gravity” the Commercial Appeals Court on Wednesday placed Correo Argentina (otherwise, the national post office) under trusteeship, accusing its previous owners, the SOCMA (Sociedad Macri) group of asset-stripping. The Macri Group (to whom the post office was privatised between 1997 and 2003) is accused of leaving debts topping a current 50 billion pesos when in mid-2016 then-communications (now defence) minister Oscar Aguad quantified these liabilities at 300 million pesos, to be repaid over a 15-year period. The case now goes to the Supreme Court.

CORRUPTION & THE COURTS...

Following the “urgent” flight of Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to Cuba on Wednesday to visit her ailing daughter Florencia, the court in charge of the money-laundering trial where both women are co-defendants asked for a new medical report to verify the true state of health of the ex-president’s daughter. Florencia has been in Cuba for around six months, since March.

PAEDOPHILE COP

An ex-policeman, 71, living in Flores was exposed as a paedophile yesterday after he took his computer for repairs and the technician alerted the police after seeing some of the contents causing the virus problems. The police then raided the pensioner’s home where lots of child pornography was discovered (some of it produced on the same premises) as well as a life-size doll of a small boy.

CÓRDOBA’S LORENA BOBBIT?

Architect Brenda Barattini, 28, now faces homicide charges in a Córdoba court after severing her lover’s pe- nis. “I wanted to hurt him,” she admitted, claiming to have suffered “very great” psycho- logical damage herself after being exhibited “like a trophy” among her ex-lover’s friends and colleagues in the form of intimate videos. Barattini has now been dubbed “Córdoba’s Lorena Bobbit” in reference to the famous 1993 case in the United States.

DIEGO DRAWS A CROWD

Footballing legend Diego Maradona (the hero of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup, as if you didn’t know) duly took over as the new coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata last Sunday amid rapturous scenes from fans of the relegation- threatened club (whose membership ranks have swelled by 4,000 as a result). Maradona limped, cheered, cried and... well, frankly, he was Maradona and it was highly entertaining.

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