IMF finds Argentina programme was ‘too fragile’ to deal with deep-seated challenges

23 Dec 21

The International Monetary Fund’s $57bn agreement with Argentina failed to deal with the country’s structural problems, an internal investigation has found.

The 2018 arrangement – still the fund’s largest ever – was set up in an attempt to solve a currency crisis and bring down double-digit inflation.

Although the policies set out in the deal were adhered to, according to the investigation, they did not ease the South American economy’s struggles and the programme was abandoned in July 2020.

“The programme did not deliver on its objectives, despite significant modifications of economic policies,” the IMF said.

“Mounting redemptions, along with capital flight by residents, put considerable pressure on the exchange rate.

“Despite FX interventions beyond programme provisions, the exchange rate continued to depreciate, increasing inflation and the peso value of public debt, and weakening real incomes, especially of the poor.”

The IMF concluded the arrangement “did not fulfil the objectives of restoring confidence in fiscal and external viability while fostering economic growth”.

Fund directors said the programme’s “strategy and conditionality was not sufficiently robust” to deal with Argentina’s “deep-seated structural problems” such as weak public finances, high inflation and undiversified exports.

They said the government’s red lines that ruled out policies such as capital flow management measures and debt operations might have hindered the effectiveness of the overall arrangement, and admitted to being too reliant on “overly optimistic” government forecasts.

Argentine president Alberto Fernández, who took office in 2019 after the deal began to falter, has previously criticised the arrangement, saying the government’s debt to the IMF is “unpayable” in its current form.

The IMF said earlier this year it was heading towards a new deal with Argentina.

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