Argentine Inflation Hits 124% as Cost-of-Living Crisis Spreads

Argentina's annual inflation rate shot up to 124.4% in August after a sharp devaluation of the peso currency, with a 12.4% rise in the month the fastest since 1991, which is driving a painful cost-of-living crisis in the South American country, Reuters reported. The soaring prices, which rose more than expected, are forcing hard-hit shoppers to run a daily gauntlet to find deals and cheaper options as price hikes leave big differences from one shop to the next, with scattered discounts to lure shoppers. The August monthly inflation reading - a figure that would be eye-watering even as an annual figure in most countries worldwide - is pushing poverty levels past 40% and stoking anger at the traditional political elite ahead of October elections. "It's so hard. Each day things costs a little more, it's like always racing against the clock, searching and searching," said Laura Celiz as she shopped for groceries in Tapiales on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. "You buy whatever is cheaper in one place and go to the next place and buy something else." Her husband, Fernando Cabrera, 59, was doing sums on a calculator to compare fruit and vegetable prices. "In this way we try to beat inflation or at least compete with it a little," he added. Argentina is caught in a cycle of economic crises, with a major loss of confidence in the peso driving steady depreciation, triple-digit inflation, negative central bank reserves and a flagging economy due to drought hitting farming. The country is also battling to salvage a $44 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and facing the prospect of a $16 billion legal bill after a U.S. court ruling related to the state takeover of energy firm YPF a decade ago. Read more.