February 4, 2013

Argentina’s real inflation rate is a state secret

Filed under: Americas, Economics, Government, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 13:19

Argentina has lots of issues, but one of the biggest problems is that their official statistics fall somewhere along the spectrum between “a bout of wishful thinking” and “a tissue of lies”:

Argentina, the only country in the world that threatens private economists with jail terms for disputing the government’s obviously bogus inflation numbers, is now the only country in the world to be censured by the IMF for unacceptably bad economic statistics. In a rare move by the 24 member board of the world’s most prestigious financial institution, Argentina’s government was censured for failing to improve the quality of the numbers it uses to calculate things like GDP and, especially, the inflation rate.

The current president’s husband fired the professional economists in the statistical office in 2007. Ever since, the patent bogosity of Argentina’s statistics has undermined the government’s credibility at home and abroad. Inflation is a deadly sensitive subject in Argentina, where past bouts of hyperinflation have wiped out the savings of whole generations. Currently the government claims inflation is no higher than 11 percent; when the thought police aren’t watching them, private economists whisper that the real rate is more than 25.

This isn’t a new story: The Economist stopped using the official figures in their weekly economic summaries about a year ago. Argentina’s economic policies have become a valuable primer on “what not to do” for other countries. Argentina could be a South American version of Canada, but the political class ensures that will not happen.

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