Argentina’s Annual Inflation Hit 143% Ahead of Election

(Bloomberg) -- Consumer prices in Argentina rose last month at their fastest pace since the country was exiting hyperinflation more than three decades ago, highlighting the dire state of the economy ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.

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Prices rose 8.3% in October on a monthly basis, a notch below September’s figure and less than the 9.45% median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Annual inflation accelerated to 142.7%, according to official government data published Monday, also slightly below projections.

Communication, clothing and home goods led price increases in October.

Argentines will choose their next president on Nov. 19 in a runoff vote between Economy Minister Sergio Massa and libertarian outsider Javier Milei, who is proposing closing the central bank and dollarizing the economy as a drastic solution to thwarting triple-digit price increases.

Argentina’s dollar bonds due 2035 fell to a session low after the report’s publication. The notes fell as much as 0.2 cent to around 26.1 cents on the dollar, their lowest in almost a week, according to indicative price data compiled by Bloomberg

Read More: Massa’s Attacks Put Milei on Defensive in Argentina Debate

Regardless of who wins the consequential vote, inflation will be the biggest immediate challenge for Argentina’s next leader. Rickety foreign exchange controls have proven unsustainable, meaning a major currency devaluation is on the horizon for the next government taking office Dec. 10. At the same time, narrowing a chronic fiscal gap implies cutting subsidies that will make utility prices spike.

Economists forecast annual inflation to reach 185% by the end of the year, above their previous forecast for a 180.7% gain, according to a central bank survey published later on Monday. Gross domestic product is expected to contract 2% this year and 1.6% in 2024, according to the same survey.

--With assistance from Scott Squires.

(Updates with latest central bank survey in final paragraph. An earlier story corrected chart’s Oct. 2023 annotation data.)

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