The food basket consumed inside homes increased by 2.6% in the third week of May, the largest increase in the previous four weeks.
With this result the forecasts of an increase in the cost of living of the order of 9% this month paralleled by another jump in food prices.
The EcoGo survey, conducted by the economist Marina Dal Poggetto, shows that this month is also characterized by the rise in regulated prices.
Taxi (+20%), prepaid (+3.43% for those receiving less than six salaries and +4.76 for the rest of users), tolls in AMBA (+40 and +50%), fuel (+4 % ), buses and trains (+7.7%), underground and Premetro (+15.5%), electricity tariffs (27% on average) and gas (+25%) constitute a strong trunk floor to explain why some forecasters are expecting double digits for May inflation.
Polls indicate that inflation is by a large margin people’s biggest concern and the most recent history shows that every episode of exchange rate instability, due to the 7.7% jump in the cost of living in March or to the decision of the Central Bank not to intervene anymore on financial dollars, leaves a wider currency gap.
This, in turn, reignites an increasingly less valid controversy over why, if imports are paid for in the official $234 dollar, when setting prices, firms and businesses default to cash with settlement, 493 dollars.
The controversy has lost validity because shortage of dollars in government coffers is evident (import delays would exceed 12,000 million dollars) and because there is also a growing expectation that by the end of the year there will be a devaluation understood as a changeover jump.
With the cards turned, and the Minister of Economy Sergio Massa negotiating the planned disbursement of US$10,000 million from the International Monetary Fund and the expansion of the china exchange to facilitate the payment in yuan of imports from that country, uncertainty about what to do to cover the storm is the order of the day.
At the monthly meeting of capital foundation now led by economist Carlos Pérez, a scheme based on what the government has been presented “you want and you can avoid”, in what “he wants and can’t help it” and in what “He wants to but it is not known if he will be able to avoid it”.
Among the issues that the government can certainly avoid are the financing of the fiscal deficit and a restructuring of the public debt.
The goal that the government of do not issue to finance the deficit prosecutor has been forgotten. In the first four months of the year, the assistance of the Central Bank to the Treasury explained “almost entirely the financing of the fiscal deficit”.
Between the Temporary Advances, the intervention on the bond market and the fall in Treasury deposits in the Central, the loan has largely exceeded one trillion pesos.
But it is just that increase in emissions which suggests that the government will resort to the “little car” before restructuring any public debt.
This includes all deposits in both dollars (continuing to fall) and pesos, which now offer 97% annual interest on time deposits.
Among what the government wants to avoid, but cannot, there are two tangible and painful results: the qualitative leap inflation and the decline in economic activity in the second half of the year.
Cost-of-living increases of 7.7% in March and 8.4% in April accelerated the process of money fleeing, burning silver in the hands of Argentines seeking protection.
And the decision to “consume in an effort to beat inflation” took effect amid falling people’s real incomes.
Also, among “what cannot be avoided” is the expansion of the currency gap: the Central has stopped intervening on the market and the gap between the official dollar and the free one (Mep and cash with liquidation) has exceeded 100%, an indicator that the exchange rate is still under pressure.
Finally, the report focuses on what the government would like to avoid, but it is not known whether it will succeed: a leap in the exchange rate in an attempt to reset exchange rate expectations until the end of the year.
The latest foreign currency purchases by the Central cannot compensate for the fact that the Central reserves remain in the negative range (-1,400 million dollars) and the economic team maintains its dual stance with respect to what is to come in terms of exchange rate stability.
On the one hand, the interest rate jumped six percentage points to 97% annually in an attempt to stop savers from betting on the dollar.
On the other, it cuts Now 12 interest rates and announces the expansion of funding margins of credit cards to moderate the drop in purchasing power due to inflation and to encourage consumption.
The signs of economic stability and the contrary ones required by the political needs of the government in the election year collide head-on in a moment of high exchange rate sensitivity.
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.