Argentina to Hike Interest Rates to 75% as Inflation Nears 100%

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Argentina’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate Thursday in a bid to prop up its currency and curb inflation nearing 100%.

The central bank boosted its benchmark Leliq rate by 5.5 percentage points to 75%, according to an emailed statement. The move comes a day after data showed consumer prices jumped nearly 79% a year in August, the fastest pace in 30 years. It was the bank’s ninth rate hike this year.

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The bank’s board of directors also added in the statement that it intends to reduce the level of short-term debt held by the central bank next year, but didn’t provide more specifics.

Earlier this week, central bank President Miguel Pesce and Economy Minister Sergio Massa affirmed, in a meeting with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva their commitment to implement the country’s $44 billion deal with the IMF. A key element of the accord includes keeping interest rates above the rate of inflation.

What Bloomberg Economics Says

“The new rate hike catches up with the rise in current and expected inflation — but may not be sufficient to tame inflation or boost reserves. The substantial uncertainty on inflation and the persistent risk that the peso may soon see a sharper depreciation undermine the ability of the new rate to convince households to save or investors to have a position in pesos.”

–Adriana Dupita, Latin America economist

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