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ECONOMY | 15-01-2020 17:51

53.8%: Argentina posts the highest inflation rate in 28 years

INDEC reveals prices last year increased by the highest rate since 1991, with inflation in December coming in at 3.7%.

Prices in Argentina rose 53.8 percent in 2019, the highest rate since the 1991 economic crisis when the peso was pegged to the US dollar.

The annual figure was confirmed by the INDEC national statistics bureau, which revealed Wednesday that prices rose by 3.7 percent in December alone. The Patagonia region suffered the highest increases, registering a rate of 4.2 percent. 

Argentina's inflation rate is one of the highest in the world and second only in Latin America to crisis-hit Venezuela. Inflation in 2018 came in at 48 percent.

The data for 2019 marks the 15th consecutive year of a double-digit inflation rate, and the 10th consecutive year with a rate above 20 percent.

Despite former president Mauricio Macri’s 2015 campaign promise of attaining a single-digit inflation rate, he closed out his term in office with prices soaring and poverty on the rise. Argentina is gripped in recession, following a currency crash 18 months ago.

In general, Argentines are no stranger to inflation, having recorded figures of more than 3,000 percent in 1989 and 2,300 percent the next year. 

In 1991, the country tried to fix its problems by hitching the peso's value to the dollar. But that was abandoned 11 years later after Argentina defaulted on a US$100-billion debt in the midst of a financial crisis that began in 2001.

"The accumulated price increase of the last four-month period and the relative price mismatches leave a strong inertial drag for the first months of 2020," wrote Nadin Argañaraz, Bruno Panighel and Julián Illa, economists at IARAF, in a report. 

“If prices cease to increase as of January 1, the minimum average inflation of 2020 would be 22 percent compared to the 2019 average. This is the magnitude of the statistical drag of inflation 2019,” the report continued.

Over the last 12 months, the prices that grew the most above the general level were health at 72.1 percent; communications at 63.9 percent; home equipment and maintenance, 63.7 percent; and food, 56.8 percent.

Throughout the final year of Macri’s government, the price of clothing and footwear increased at a rate of 51.9 percent, alcoholic beverages and tobacco were up 50.2 percent, and goods and services, which includes cleaning and personal hygiene, rose 55.9 percent.

Prices for restaurants, hotels, recreation, tourism, education all rose substantially, as have housing, water, gas and electricity prices, though all came in below the average rate of 53.8 percent.

Argentina's new Peronist government, led by President Alberto Fernández aims to fight inflation in the coming year through the social pact and price controls. 

– TIMES/AFP/NA
 

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