Written by Hernan Nessi and Miguel Lo Bianco
Argentina’s monthly inflation blew past expectations at 7% in August and rose to about 80% from a year earlier, a government agency said on Wednesday, despite efforts by officials and central bank governors to rein in soaring prices.
The month-over-month inflation reading, reported by statistics agency Indyk, was cooler than 7.4% in July but higher than the 6.6% average forecast of analysts in a Reuters poll.
The South American country, a major producer of grain, has one of the highest inflation rates in the world. The situation has been exacerbated by rising global food and fuel costs and has led to a decline in the popularity of the center-left government of President Alberto Fernandez ahead of next year’s elections.
The government has prompted retailers to freeze some prices, with some supermarkets rationing purchases of basic commodities such as flour, sugar and milk in an effort to control prices. However, shopping costs have skyrocketed.
“From one week to the next, you seem to be spending twice as much,” Graciela Negrete, a 67-year-old retiree in Buenos Aires, told Reuters.
“Yesterday I went to the supermarket and came home sick. I told my kids that things definitely couldn’t get that much more in a few days.”
Inflation in the twelve months to August was 78.5% while prices rose 56.4% in the first eight months of the year. A recent central bank poll predicted that Argentina would end the year with an inflation rate of 95%, while some private analysts expect it to reach 100%.
Lucia Estevez, 38, an interior designer, told Reuters that many people were unable to make it to the end of the month, as inflation slashed their salaries, forcing people to forgo small luxuries they used to enjoy.
“You always try to stay afloat,” she said. “You don’t have anything spare to be able to treat yourself.”