Argentina’s courts, in a welcome moment of sanity, have overruled attempts (link in Spanish) by Argentina’s government to prevent anyone who isn’t the government from publishing a figure for inflation that isn’t what the government says it is.
As Argentine official economic figures have progressively parted ways with reality, other institutions have taken it upon themselves to publish more accurate data. In 2011 the country’s minister of domestic commerce, Guillermo Moreno, began imposing fines of up 500,000 pesos (link in Spanish), then worth around $120,000, on seven Argentine economic consultancies for publishing their own inflation indices, which the government calls “inexact.” The IMF, which has been using private sector estimates since 2011, formally censured Argentina’s government earlier this year for failing to give it accurate data about inflation; in April its deputy director for Latin America called the country’s methods of repressing unofficial estimates “censorship.” In March, the country reported that inflation was 10.58%; the country’s opposition party pegged the number at 24.43%, a figure that independent economists believe is far closer to the mark.
The court ruling will help further discredit the government’s misleading economic data, but then again the Argentine media have been documenting the problem for years. Or at least, the 20% of the media that are not, if you accept the estimate of celebrated Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata, under the government’s control.
Still, the populace seems to get the idea. Argentines are throwing money into BMWs, Jaguars, and other luxury cars rather than holding their money in a bank in Argentine currency. And the currency is rapidly inflating; the Argentine “blue dollar”, as the peso is called on the black market, is trading at about 10.45 to the US dollar: