The thinning patience with Macri among Argentines stands in stark contrast with his enthusiastic reception on Wall Street
A girl runs in a slum in Hurlingham, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 21, 2016. Picture taken April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci, photo: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci
27 of April 2016 11:13:19
BUENOS AIRES — Argentine President Mauricio Macri repeats the aim of his economic policies so often it has become a mantra: "zero poverty."But just five months into his term, Macri's policies have so far swelled the ranks of the poor, souring public opinion and raising the risk of backlash against an economic overhaul that is winning over foreign investors.[caption id="attachment_14683" align="alignright" width="300"] Maria Duarte speaks next to her daughter Mia during an interview with Reuters at her house in Hurlingham, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 21, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci[/caption]By sharply devaluing the peso, loosening price controls and hiking utility rates, Macri has sent inflation surging. Prices have risen more than six percent in Buenos Aires this month, private economists estimate, putting basic living costs out of reach for more families."You can feel the blow," said Raúl Costilla, 42, a father of three in a slum south of Buenos Aires, who is struggling to make ends meet amid soaring bus fares and natural gas prices. "It's like social schizophrenia ... People voted for this government hoping for a recovery, but we're feeling the opposite."Macri's center-right government promises to bring monthly inflation down to near 1 percent in the second half of the year, but their strategy of raising interest rates and trimming public payrolls has also increased unemployment and deepened the current downturn.As a result, nearly 33 percent of Argentines now live in families unable to afford a basket of food and other basic goods, up from 29 percent at the end of 2015, according to researchers at the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA).Dubious government statistics have made it harder to calculate average incomes and consumer prices in recent years, but Macri has previously cited UCA studies to decry the rising poverty rate under his predecessor, leftist leader Cristina Fernández.While most Argentines grant that Macri inherited a stagnant economy shackled by chronic inflation and hefty budget deficits, his campaign promises of a swift turnaround raised expectations and set a tight timeline for his tough medicine to start working."The honeymoon is giving way to demands for concrete solutions," said political analyst Pablo Knopoff, adding that Argentines would not tolerate a long wait for a recovery. "The president has set the deadline: the second half of the year."Positive impressions of Macri have dropped from 71 percent when he took office in December to 53 percent this month, while negative impressions rose from 26 percent to nearly 43 percent, according to a survey by pollsters Ricardo Rouvier & Asociados.
BRAD HAYNESNICOLAS MISCULIN