Argentina’s economy will return to growth in 2019, President Mauricio Macri said on Wednesday, following a year marked by higher-than-expected inflation and a run on the Peso currency that many economists anticipate will lead to a recession.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved on Wednesday a three-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for Argentina amounting to US$50 billion (equivalent to SDR 35.379 billion, or about 1,110 percent of Argentina’s quota in the IMF).
Argentine president Mauricio Macri appointed Finance Minister Luis Caputo as president of the central bank on Thursday, after the outgoing head of the bank resigned and acknowledged having lost credibility.
The International Monetary Fund said on Monday that talks with Argentine authorities for financial support are well advanced and the plan is driven by Argentina priorities with a particular focus on protecting the most vulnerable.
High interest rates will have a negative impact on activity, and the weaker peso resulting from a floating exchange rate regime will add to already sky-high inflation, but both are necessary to prevent a deeper crisis, Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne admitted on Monday.
Argentina’s central bank sold US$1.1 billion in the foreign exchange market on Friday and the peso weakened 2.74% to an all-time closing low of 23.35 per U.S. dollar despite talks aimed at securing an International Monetary Fund financing deal.
Argentine equities rallied on Thursday, while the country's peso currency was stable, as the central bank sold foreign currency reserves in the spot market for the first time since the country announced it was seeking financing from the IMF.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday she is ready to aid Argentina and wants talks on a financing package to be finalized quickly. Lagarde said she instructed the IMF team to continue discussions on a loan program with the goal to “reach a rapid conclusion.”
Argentina asked the International Monetary Fund for financing to help stem a run from the Peso to the US dollar that is sparking a surge in interest rates and threatening to derail the country's economic recovery. The sum requested is estimated between 25 and 30bn dollars, 500% Argentina's IMF quota and could be disbursed in two forms, a flexible credit line or a precautionary credit line.
Argentina's Central Bank on Friday hiked its benchmark interest rate to 40% to support the peso, the third such hike in just over a week and one day after the currency plunged in value. Following the decision, the peso -- which has lost more than 10% of its value in the past month -- opened 6% higher against the dollar.