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Argentina closed the year with annual inflation accelerating to 95 percent, taking the South American country narrowly out of the top five countries with triple-digit inflation globally.
Prices rose 5.1 percent in December, picking up slightly after three straight months of decline and bringing the 12-month figure to 94.8 percent, according to government statistics agency Indec. This is the highest rate since 1991, when the country was emerging from a hyperinflationary crisis.
The rise in prices is largely due to central bank money printing as well as Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Argentina was among the six countries that had the highest rates last year, but was behind Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Venezuela, Syria and Sudan, which had triple-digit inflation last year.
Argentina’s Finance Minister Sergio Massa attributed December’s modest decline to a price control scheme known as “Fair Prices” or Precios Justos, which temporarily froze the price of more than 1,700 goods until December 2023. Similar price controls introduced in 2021 ., failed to curb inflation. The minister added that monthly price increases could start to fall to 3 percent by April.
Economists widely expect inflation in Argentina to remain stubbornly high in 2023 as the country enters a presidential election year and are skeptical about the effectiveness of recent government measures.
Earlier this week, the World Bank warned that getting inflation below 90 percent would be a difficult challenge in 2023.
Consumer sentiment in Argentina continues to deteriorate. The value of the local peso at the widely used parallel exchange rate fell to historic lows against the US dollar as savers fearing further devaluation converted their pesos into safer assets. On Thursday, the peso fell to 360 against the dollar.
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