September 27, 2019
1. IMF puts USD $5.4 billion loan to Argentina on hold indefinitely
Following a meeting of IMF officials with President Mauricio Macri and his economic team, the multilateral financial entity announced it would hold off on disbursing USD $5.4 billion in stand-by funds to the Argentine government until further notice. The original plan was to release the funds in November, following October’s presidential elections and a comprehensive discussion with the victor. It should be noted that the IMF’s decision to put future loans on hold will likely resonate with other multilateral lenders like the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, who are expected to come to the same conclusion. Accordingly, the Argentine head of state was at the UN General Assembly in New York where he stated that his administration has sought a constructive role that can confront global challenges through consensus and collective action, while acting with the conviction that the world is full of opportunity, rather than threats. Additionally, Macri defended the trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU, requested Iran cooperate with Argentine authorities regarding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and asked the UK to maintain a dialogue on the topic of the Falkland Islands, while emphasizing that Argentina has “legitimate and indefeasible rights to sovereignty” over the archipelago.
2. Government makes ARS $5,000 bonus for workers official
The Argentine government formalized a mandatory bonus for private sector workers up to ARS $5,000 (USD $87), as agreed upon between labor unions and business leaders. The standards for the bonus were defined through Decree 665/2019. The contents of the decree establish that the private sector should pay workers a non-remunerative sum of up to ARS $5,000, which will be paid in October 2019 respecting the timeframe, installments and conditions established by the signing parties of collective bargaining agreements implemented under the status of business and labor unions as autonomous collectives. The bonus is a key facet of the Macri administration’s economic measures intended to reverse the result of August’s primaries in his favor by the time general elections are held in October. Accordingly, Macri’s chief of staff and close confidant Marcos Peña announced the administration will launch a series of measures for SMEs with the hope of stimulating employment as early as next week, among other initiatives.
3. Trade balance reaches USD $1.168 billion surplus in August
Argentina’s trade balance took off in August, reaching a surplus of USD $1.168 billion in August and continuing a 12-month streak of the value of exports exceeding that of imports. So far in 2019, the trade balance stands at a USD $7.708 billion surplus. According to the Argentine statistical agency’s (Indec) monthly report, the result came off a 7.5% uptick in exports and a 30.3% drop in imports, year-over-year. In August, imports totaled USD $4.4 billion and exports USD $5.568 billion.
4. Official data reveals spike in income inequality as a result of economic crisis
According to Indec’s income distribution report, 60% of the Argentine population earned a monthly wage under ARS $20,000 (USD $339) in the second quarter of this year. The figure is a cause for concern, as Indec determines that a family of four needs ARS $30,000 (USD $577.30) monthly to be considered above the poverty line. The report also revealed that the country suffered a deterioration in its Gini coefficient – an indicator measuring income inequality – and an economic setback of 2.5%. Moreover, the report states that the poorest 10% of the population held 1.3% of the country’s total income, while the richest 10% held 30.9%. In the last 12 months, the income gap between these two segments increased by a factor of between 18 and 20.
5. Government to nationalize roadway projects at a standstill
Through an official resolution, the national government opted to nationalize 3,374km worth of roads with expired tenders, after the second and third stages of tenders for public-private partnerships came to a standstill as a result of devaluation and the uptick in country risk in the last year. The government’s decree established that the five roadway contracts that remained unawarded would be managed by state-run Corredores Viales S.A. The five corridors include different sections of national routes 9 and 34 (in the provinces of Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Salta y Jujuy); 188 (Buenos Aires); 19 (Santa Fe and Córdoba; 12 (Corrientes and Misiones); 16 (Corrientes and Chaco); 8 (Buenos Aires, Córdoba and San Luis); and 36 (Córdoba).