Argentina peso drops as left-leaning economy minister named


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s peso fell and stock prices dipped Monday after left-leaning Silvina Batakis was named economy minister following the surprise resignation of her more moderate predecessor over the weekend as the country struggles with economic woes.

Batakis was named late Sunday to take over from Martín Guzmán, who was largely seen as a moderate voice within President Alberto Fernández’s Cabinet. Guzmán had been the target of strong criticism from more left-leaning elements of the governing coalition, including Vice President Cristina Fernández, who is not related to the president.

The peso’s value was down 18% at one point in the informal market Monday, reaching 280 per dollar, before recovering some late in the day. Prices for government bonds plunged as much as 10%, signaling fears of worsening inflation, while stocks also saw declines.

The volatility of the historic peso means Argentines largely save in US dollars and the exchange rate is closely followed as a general barometer for the economy.


Some analysts cautioned it was too early to say if the peso is at a new low because trading activity was very light Monday, indicating that many people might be taking a wait-and-see attitude.

“These are prices that must be taken with a grain of salt today,” said Gustavo Ber, an economist who heads local consultancy Estudio Ber.

But others said it was a signal that after serveral economic crashes in recent decades, Argentines are worried that inflation already running at an annual rate of 60% will worsen under Batakis, who was sworn in late Monday afternoon.

“This is what we expected, a pretty strong reaction from the markets,” said Marcos Buscaglia, an economist who is a partner at local consulting firm Alberdi Partners.

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