Eleven months have passed, almost a year, since Alberto Fernández, carrying in his backpack a still incipient annual rate of 55.1%, publicly declared war on inflation. Visible at the top of 100% of the official statisticsthe President was defeated without the noise of the tanks being noticed.
Sergio Massa also goes from stumbling block to stumbling block, the man to whom Fernández, Cristina Kirchner herself and a good part of the economic power have put chips in quantity, thinking that at least he would be able to dissolve the fever of remarking. And that, immediately, everyone could watch their own game.
With ample room for maneuver, the deputy minister showed off the chips he had left, with a view to strengthening his political future and before reality took him away. The issue is that reality requires specialists and articulated plans and that, moreover, time itself is pressing.
As soon as he took office, at the beginning of AugustMassa announced a agreement with entrepreneurs according to the Fair Prices format which would be in effect between November 2022 and February 2023. It set a ceiling of 4% per month for increases which it sought to be, at the same time, a parameter capable of starting to sort the price mess concerning.
In November, inflation hit 4.9% and out of a batch of 32 essential goods and services included in an INDEC spreadsheet, only five met the 4% level. Already here there were 27 who jumped the fence; among these, fruit with 13%, electricity tariffs with 11% and 8% of rents.
Nothing very different, to the touch December got 5.1%; with exceptional 10% in fruit, 8.9% in vegetables and 6.9% in prepaid.
The next installment of this miniseries plagued by crushing figures was Fair Prices projected at 3.2% per month between February and the end of June this year. They couldn’t even start, because January stopped them with 6% and knocked down the shelf.
Complete crush: this time there was not a single entry in the list of 32 which in January would have settled at 3.2%, let alone below 3.2%.
The economy minister’s performance is accompanied by another pair of data, now in an annualized version. In August of its debut, inflation said 78.5% and last January, with a semester in charge, 98.8% sealed INDEC unprecedented close in the country of overflowing inflation.
That jump of 20 percentage points in such a short time suggests it Mass it’s not getting close to controlling inflation, but further and further away. It is what many perceive and what sounds like a macaneo attempt when they try to hide it.
Despite the image that the INDEC numbers show everywhere you look and the story those numbers deny from start to finish, Deputy Economy Minister Gabriel Rubinstein just said: “Signed price agreements show a high degree of compliance.”
Like someone who is groping, in the same act Rubinstein makes a breakthrough and in fact acknowledges that something has failed and fails without looking back: “We hope that by the end of the year the monthly installments will approach 3%,” he said. That is, that 3 or 4% which, thanks to the price agreements, should have already arrived.
And still in the waiting train, Rubinstein has included in the year-end package the annual rate of 60% which appears in the Budget Law and which the Government aspires to transform into the guideline outlining wage increases. According to specialists consulted by the Central Bank, 60% would be reached between August and September.
The Kirchnerist strategy of relaunching everything thinking of fixing a politically unfavorable scenario is known.
But running by 3% from a few months ago towards the end of the year is quite similar to throwing away as much as possible or, better, tastes like disorientation. As someone says: now we go with 4 and then with 3.2 and finally with 3 again.
This baffling confusion of terms ignited as soon as Indec released 6% for January and some consultants started talking about “close to 7%” for the cost of food in February.
Anticipating movements in retail prices, the January wholesale index was up 6.5%. As noted, everything between 6 and 7% and nothing close to the aspirations of Kirchnerism.
A phenomenon of the same family, albeit with a lot of money at stake, revolves around the increasingly onerous debt in pesos of the State and the need to continuously cycle it, to sift through destabilizing disorders.
One thing these days has been, indeed, demand that has generated a strong batch of inflation-linked Treasuries that the Economy has been offering. 320,000 million dollars were placed, but in a very short time and at the cost of validating a capital gain of 5.24% on the indexing itself. On the market, the surcharge is 5.1%.
Whether from prices, the official exchange rate or a mix of both, indexation rules without changes of Argentine public debt: 80% of a package that is around 14 trillion pesos bears that seal. In other words and in distrust mode, without this coverage it would cost a lot or it would be even more expensive to find reimbursement formulas.
Predictably faced with such an eggplant, nobody wants to take on the slippages with inflation rates and even less with inflation itself. Predictable two, the internal investigation points to a second-line Economy official, as if checks, misses, closed seasons, stocks and retrace stocks weren’t historical pieces of the Kirchnerist arsenal.
And if the investigation really passes from there, it would not hurt to take a look at the movements of Axel Kicillof who used those tools in a fragmentary way in his time as minister of Cristina Kirchner and still recommends them.
Sung, the key is to avoid placing blame on those in or around the dome of power. As if Alberto Fernández, Cristina Kirchner, Sergio Massa and some others were unaware of the results of the administration of the government to which they belong, and have been in command posts for three long years.
Question where things are definitely headed: does none of the stomping have at least the responsibility to see and do nothing, while the cost of the basic food basket soared to amass 337% in those three years?
The possibility of blaming a right-wing government does not enter here, nor, of course, a progressive one. We have one called Kirchnerista, made up of cadres who boast of skills that they lack and, moreover, try to assert themselves.
Charles Arterburn is a seasoned business journalist for News Rebeat, where he provides comprehensive coverage of the latest trends and developments in the world of finance and economics.