Argentina’s Debt Swells to Record Levels

Debt has surpassed 60% of GDP, and has increased by 4.4% in foreign currency and almost 90% in pesos since the start of President Alberto Fernández’s administration

Sergio Massa, Argentina's economy minister, during a news conference at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, on Jan. 23, 2023. Photographer: Anita Pouchard Serra/Bloomberg
June 23, 2023 | 10:44 AM

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Buenos Aires — Argentina’s public debt continues to grow and, in spite of the strong criticism by the government of President Alberto Fernández and his Vice President, Cristina Kirchner, of the indebtedness incurred by the country during the administration of previous president Mauricio Macri, and the euphemisms used, statistics show that the public debt has increased during the last four years.

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In May, the national public debt reached $398.83 billion, 62% of the country’s GDP, an increase of $24.25 billion with respect to the levels of the same month of the previous year. In other words, a year-on-year increase of 6%.

Thus, the public debt has accumulated an increase of 23% during President Alberto Fernández’s administration.

According to consulting firm Romano Group, this represents an increase of $74.40 billion.


In pesos and dollars

Although the Argentine government’s economic team has resorted to discursive variants such as “positive net financing”, or the most recent “operation” to refer to loans and new indebtedness, the reality is that the current government increased the levels of public debt to face the fiscal deficit and the lack of dollars.

According to data provided by Salvador Vitelli, head of research of Romano Group, during Alberto Fernández’s administration, the public debt has increased 87.8% in pesos - most of which corresponds to indexed securities - and 4.4% in foreign currency.

The data, said Vitelli, “clearly show that this debt reduction not only did not exist, but even continued to increase in foreign currency”. The latter, he added, shows that the argument usually used by the government to relativize the increase of the debt, stating that it only increased in local currency, is not true.

Finally, the economist explained that the reason why in recent months there has been a slight contraction in the levels of debt in foreign currency is due to the payments made to bilateral credit organizations. This, he pointed out, partly explains the variation in the central bank’s international reserves. “In any case, in this administration, foreign currency debt increased by 4%,” he said.

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