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Chainsaw cuts path to new Argentina-IMF deal

​Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza coalition holds a placard depicting a dollar bill with his face on it, during a campaign rally in La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 12, 2023.

Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei of La Libertad Avanza coalition holds a placard depicting a dollar bill with his face on it, during a campaign rally in La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 12, 2023.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Argentine President Javier Milei’s dramatic spending cuts have provoked protests at home, but they’ve won him plaudits from abroad. On Thursday, an IMF delegation lands in Buenos Aires, reportedly to restart a $44 billion bailout program for the crisis-wracked country.

The eccentric, “anarcho-capitalist” Milei, who at times campaigned wielding a chainsaw, promised to slash spending to address an economic crisis that has driven inflation above 150% and plunged almost half of the population into poverty.


Since taking office, he’s halved the number of government ministries, devalued the currency by more than 50%, and deregulated dozens of industries. He’s now asking Congress for another 600 changes that would filet government regulations, expand presidential powers, and crack down on protests.

The IMF, which suspended its lending to Argentina last August after the previous government missed key reform targets, says his actions to date are “bold.” A fresh deal would unlock about $3 billion more in assistance, and not a moment too soon: Argentina owes the fund roughly that amount over the next two months.

The bigger question: Milei’s party has few seats in a largely hostile Congress – his power comes from a popular mandate for change. Keeping that mandate – which he will need to continue his one-man radical reform program – will require him to show, soon, that the economic shock and pain he is inflicting on society is worth it. The clock is ticking.

GZEROMEDIA

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