Milei says could take two years to tame Argentina's inflation

Milei says could take two years to tame Argentina's inflation

Milei won a resounding victory in Sunday's presidential election, trouncing the Economy Minister Sergio Massa by 12 points with his pledge to end decades of unbridled state spending
Milei won a resounding victory in Sunday's presidential election, trouncing the Economy Minister Sergio Massa by 12 points with his pledge to end decades of unbridled state spending. Photo: Luis ROBAYO / AFP
Source: AFP

President-elect Javier Milei said Monday that it could take between 18 and 24 months to bring Argentina's rampant inflation under control, as he outlined his plans to reform the economy.

Milei won a resounding victory in Sunday's presidential election, trouncing Economy Minister Sergio Massa by 12 points with a pledge to end decades of unbridled state spending and "end the decline of Argentina."

"First, we will start with the reform of the state, to very quickly put public accounts in order," the libertarian economist told Radio Mitre.

In a series of morning radio interviews to lay out his vision, he said he had a "clear plan" to tackle annual inflation that has hit 140 percent and a poverty rate of 40 percent.

During the campaign, Milei vowed to ditch the ailing peso for the US dollar and get rid of the central bank, which he accuses of fueling inflation by printing money to finance government overspending.

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"The empirical evidence for the Argentine case says that if you cut monetary emission today, it takes between 18 and 24 months to destroy (inflation)," he said.

On his plans to reform the government, Milei said "everything that can be in the hands of the private sector is going to be in the hands of the private sector," including the state oil company YPF and state media.

He said he would push for the elimination of strict currency exchange controls -- with analysts saying the official rate of the peso to the dollar is an expensive fiction.

However, Milei said he would first seek to resolve the debt issued by the Central Bank.

"If the problem of the Central Bank is not resolved, the shadow of hyperinflation will follow us at all times," he said.

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Argentines can choose currency

Asked about his dollarization platform, Milei said the priority was "to close the Central Bank, then the currency will be the one that Argentines freely choose."

Milei said he will meet with outgoing Peronist President Alberto Fernandez, without saying when.

"He called me to congratulate me and invited me to a meeting to make the transition as orderly as possible," he said.

Milei also indicated that he will travel, privately, to the United States and Israel before taking office on December 10.

The 53-year-old is inheriting a country whose coffers are in the red, with $44 billion debt with the International Monetary Fund looming over his incoming government.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva congratulated Milei and said she looked forward to working with him "to develop and implement a strong plan to safeguard macroeconomic stability and strengthen inclusive growth for all Argentinians."

Monday is a public holiday, meaning the impact of Milei's win on the volatile peso has been delayed.

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Argentina has in recent years strictly controlled the exchange rate of the peso and access to dollars, leading to a thriving black market for greenbacks.

This so-called "blue dollar" exchanges at almost three times the value of the official rate, and analysts warn the peso is ripe for a sharp devaluation.

Asked whether he would scrap restrictions on the purchase of foreign currency that have been in place since 2019, Milei said "it is not an option to maintain the trap that hinders the economy."

Congratulations poured in for the new leader of Latin America's third-largest economy, including from Brazil and China -- who he had previously vowed to cut ties with, saying "we don't make deals with communists."

Milei toned down much of his more controversial rhetoric after winning the backing of the center-right opposition, and it remains to be seen which of his policies will materialize.

Following Milei's victory, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wished "good luck and success" to the new Argentine government.

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China said Monday it would continue working with Argentina, congratulating the president-elect on his victory.

"China has always attached great importance to the development of China-Argentina relations from a strategic and long-term perspective," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular briefing.

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Source: AFP

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