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Milei is beating the odds. Will it last?

What happens when a country with triple-digit inflation and chronic fiscal deficits elects a chainsaw-wielding populist with a dead dog for chief counsel as president?

Back in November, following the unexpected triumph of the self-styled “anarcho-capitalist” Javier Milei in Argentina’s presidential election, I expected the economy would further collapse in short order.

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How Javier Milei is turning Argentina's economy around
How Javier Milei is turning Argentina's economy around | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

How Javier Milei is turning Argentina's economy around

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And today, I want to take us to Argentina, where newly elected President Javier Milei deserves a round of applause, at least for where we see the country so far in his administration.

We've had a first budget surplus that Argentina has enjoyed in over a decade. And monthly inflation, which has been significant highs and impossible for the people, is actually slowing down. Now, that's a really big deal. After several administrations in Argentina doing their damnedest to destroy the economy, Milei is turning the place around. He's succeeding. And by the way, this was not what I expected when the elections were happening. When he was first elected, I wrote, “expect more economic collapse imminently. ” And clearly that didn't happen. And that's a great thing. for the Argentinean people. I'm happy to be wrong about this. And by the way, I'll be very happy if I could be wrong about Ukraine getting partition, that seems like a tougher one. But nonetheless, what happened and why has he been more successful than I expected? It's worth thinking about.

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Javier Milei, the President of Argentina, speaks at the final day of the conservative conference on February 24, 2024.

Zach D Roberts/Reuters

Hard Numbers: Argentina in the money, China-Libya drones plot in Canada, Recording Gaza’s casualties, Arms spending peaks

0.2: Argentina is in the black for the first time since 2008. The South American country is starting Q2 with a 0.2% fiscal surplus in quarterly revenues. President Javier Milei took a victory lap and promised to continue his fiscal austerity program, causing bond valuations to jump.

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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

Chainsaw cuts path to new Argentina-IMF deal

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.

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Demonstrators protest against Argentina's new President Javier Milei's adjustment policy, outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 21, 2023. The banner reads, "For Sale".

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Extreme economic makeover: Milei edition

Ten days after his inauguration, President Javier Milei set out to turn Argentina from a nanny state to a bastion of free market capitalism, announcing a sweeping set of economic reforms that uproot major sectors of the economy and have enraged the country’s powerful labor unions.

The decrees will privatize state-owned companies and strike down regulations in the housing market, export controls, the food industry, and other sectors to encourage competition. Worker benefits, from severance packages to maternity leave, will also be cut.

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Volodymyr Zelensky

Annie Gugliotta

Ukraine faces threat from Western flank

While visiting Buenos Aires on Sunday for the inauguration of Argentina’s new president Javier Milei, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was able to buttonhole Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Cameras caught an unimpressed-looking Zelensky sharing his thoughts with a defensive-looking Orban. We don’t know what he said – Zelensky said later that it was a “frank” exchange – but we can guess that the Ukrainian was calling Orban out for acting on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is seeking to gain through politics what he has so far failed to gain on the battlefield: Ukraine’s submission.

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Argentine President-elect Javier Milei

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Is Milei moderating? Argentina’s president-elect takes power

After running a scorching campaign that promised to turn Argentina into a Utopia of free-market capitalism by any means necessary, President-elect Javier Milei is cooling things down a bit ahead of his inauguration on Sunday.

Milei won last month’s election in a landslide by blasting the economic policies of the outgoing Peronist government, promising to slash government spending, cut taxes, eliminate most ministries, close the central bank, and dollarize Argentina’s economy.

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Argentina's economy will get a lot worse before it gets better
Argentina's economy will get a lot worse before it gets better | World In: 60 | GZERO Media

Argentina's economy will get a lot worse before it gets better

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Will Israel and Hamas finally reach a hostage deal?

We keep hearing about this deal. We're now saying it's imminent, but imminent doesn't mean announced. And, you know, things can go wrong at the last minute still, where the details make it seem like this is going to happen. And what that means is not only we're going to see at least a few dozen Israeli women and children released and some Palestinians, also mostly women, it looks like, released as well from Israel, but that you'll get a temporary ceasefire in three days, five days, and maybe that leads to more diplomacy. It doesn't lead to Israel no longer attacking Hamas. Let's be clear. It's not an actual ceasefire, but it creates more space for people to be talking, especially talking with the Israelis, major leaders in the region. That is something we'll be watching very closely.

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