Argentina raises key interest rate to 40 percent, bringing more uncertainty

Global Business

The Buenos Aires book fair this month is one of the most important literary events in the Spanish-speaking world. The three-week festival generates a welcome boost in sales for publishing houses, but the sector is still struggling in Argentina’s difficult economy. CGTN’s Joel Richards reports.

Booksellers are trying their hardest to persevere, said Graciela Rosenberg, president of the Argentine Book Chamber.

“Bookshops are the most affected. They have high running costs with tariffs and other costs,” Rosenberg said. “The sector is not doing well, but editors are used to these ups and downs and we try to keep going.”

According to the Argentine Book Chamber sales are down 30 percent since 2015. But the sector, along with many others, is also facing difficulty with inflation and rising gas and electricity bills.

The government is removing long-standing subsidies to reduce the fiscal deficit, but tariff hikes for consumers and business are adding to inflation. The government’s aim is 15 percent inflation this year, but most analysts expect a figure of more than 20 percent.

As emerging markets suffered the U.S. dollar’s rise last week, Argentina was one of the worst hit. The peso is now the worst performing currency in the region this year and the central bank adjusted interest rates three times, up to 40 percent, to prevent a further slide in the currency, presenting yet more problems for Mauricio Macri’s government.

Former Finance Minister Guillermo Nielsen is concerned with the increasing level of debt Argentina has accumulated in the past two years and the government’s response.

“All economic crisis are serious, of course Argentina’s situation is far better than it was in 2001, but nevertheless but each crisis has its own complexity, it is not out of the chart, the current crisis is also risky for Argentina, this needs to be solved and the government needs to move forward at very high-speed which it is not doing,” Nielsen said.