Argentina’s economy sharply contracted in the fourth quarter while unemployment rose, potentially hurting President Mauricio Macri’s approval ratings as he seeks re-election later this year, Bloomberg News reported. Gross domestic product fell 6.2 percent from a year ago, the country’s statistics institute said on Thursday. It was the worst quarterly performance since 2009 after the global financial crisis, although Argentine economic data was considered unreliable until 2016. Analysts had forecast a 6.4 percent contraction.
South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti said on Tuesday it was putting its interests in an Argentine mine up for sale as it looks to focus on operations with a longer shelf life and ability to deliver higher returns, Reuters reported. AngloGold Chief Executive Kelvin Dushnisky, Barrick Gold’s former president, was appointed to head the firm last year and has rolled out plans to streamline its portfolio, set a 15 percent hurdle on returns on investment and cut debt leverage targets to a ratio of 1.0 times net debt to adjusted Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
Many have applauded the return of stability to Argentina’s peso, which was one of the world’s worst-performing currencies in 2018. But being one of the best performing currencies this year brings a whole new set of problems, the Financial Times reported. The central bank is striving to maintain currency stability while fighting record levels of inflation, which reached nearly 48 per cent last year, without also prolonging a recession that could endanger President Mauricio Macri’s chances of re-election in October.
Argentina bond investors couldn’t catch a break in 2018, with yields on the country’s debt soaring even after the government took out a record $56 billion credit line with the International Monetary Fund in an effort to bolster public finances, Bloomberg News reported. The average yield on sovereign notes from the country has almost doubled this year to 11 percent, and now tops the 10.9 percent rate on overseas securities from much smaller Ecuador, which has the dubious distinction of having the second-most defaults in the world since 1800.
The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved a $56.3 billion credit line for Argentina, clearing the way for the embattled South American economy to receive a larger amount of funding at a faster pace than originally negotiated, Bloomberg News reported. The board’s sign-off Friday ratified a revised agreement announced in September. Under the new deal, Argentina will receive about $35.8 billion throughout the remainder of this year and all of 2019, representing nearly a $19 billion increase from the original arrangement negotiated in June.