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Government eyes April inflation data of 3.5%, but private estimates say 4%

Macri administration hoping data will show inflation slowed to 3.5% in April, but private estimates put figure close to 4%.

Tuesday 14 May, 2019
Inflation has traditionally been Argentina's most chronic economic problem.
Inflation has traditionally been Argentina's most chronic economic problem. Foto:File-Perfil

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Argentina's government is awaiting the arrival of key inflation data due tomorrow with optimism, with the government hoping runaway price increases slowed slightly in April.

The Mauricio Macri administration believes inflation reached around 3.5 percent last month, though most private estimates are still putting the figure closer to 4 percent. The INDEC national statistics bureau will publish its figure for the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday.

Last month, on the eve of publication for March's data, government officials briefed that the figure would represent a "peak." INDEC later showed prices rose 4.7 percent, a figure that sparked alarm among officials.

The government is hoping prices at least slowed in April and that much seems certain. Yesterday, a poll of 11 analysts conducted by Reuters gave figures of 3.7 percent for a minimum increase for retail prices and a maximum advance of 4.2 percent.

A Central Bank survey of market expectations last month indicated that most private estimates saw price rises of 4 percent for March. However, another recent poll from the Workers' Statistics Institute predicted 4.6 percent, saying food and beverages had risen significantly, along with seasonal rises related to education and the Easter break.

So far, most officials have refrained from speaking publicly about expectations, but there is a hope among the government that a figure closer to 3.5 percent – while not exactly a good number – would allow them to show that price increases are slowing, with a view to May's data potentially being in the 3 to 3.5 percent range.

Re-election hopes

With a presidential election just six months away, the Macri administration is hoping to tackle inflation ahead of the October vote, with the economy still gripped by recession.

According to official data, prices increased 11.8 percent increase in the first quarter of the year alone. Inflation over the last 12 months totals 54.7 percent. With prices continuing to rise, polls are showing the president's re-election is in doubt.

On the electoral front, a string of disappointing performances in regional votes so far this year culminated in another defeat last weekend for Cambiemos in Córdoba, an important, symbolic region for the coalition, one which powered Macri to victory in 2015.

On Sunday, Peronist Governor Juan Schiaretti secured a clear victory in the province, with Cambiemos' candidates split into two by a schism, with neither challenger running close to challenging the incumbent. Peronists also won the mayoralty of the city of Córdoba for the first time since 1974.

Recent polls have indicated former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner could win a return to the Casa Rosada in a race against Macri. The ex-head of state, who faces a string of corruption investigations against her in the courts, has not officially confirmed her candidacy for the October vote.

- TIMES/PERFIL

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