“We have great expectations. We are going to tell all the Americans and all the foreigners that we meet of the good future that we have as Argentines."
That’s what President Mauricio Macri told the press as he stepped into the New York hotel he’ll be staying at until Tuesday while attending the 73rd United Nations General Assembly meeting. Argentine media says he’s hoping to have a sideline meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in hopes boosting international investment and confidence in his country’s near-recession economy.
Macri arrived into New York with his wife, Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, Secretary of Strategic Affairs Fulvio Pompeo, as well as administration spokesperson, Ivan Pavlovsky. Finance Minister Nicolas Dujovne, who was recently in Washington renegotiating the country’s US$50 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, was also in tow.
The IMF has yet to confirm Dujovne’s reference to a “less than US$15 billion” advance on the three-year standby loan the government negotiated in June. The Central Bank has already received US$15 billion from the Fund.
Over the course of the president’s two-day stay, he’ll be meeting with investors and entrepreneurs, as well as having interviews with economic-focused media outlets like Financial Times and Bloomberg — trying to convince their readers that the Argentine economy is a worthwhile bet for investing.
Since January the peso has devalued more than 52 percent, and inflation rests at around 34 percent, up 50 percent in the past few months. The government is selling off its pesos in the form of high-interest bonds and its dollar reserves with the intent to take the ailing peso out of circulation to stabilize the economy, but the efforts have hardly helped.
Consumer goods have risen, unemployment is up by .5 percent since 2017, and adult poverty is up to 25 percent, but salaries remain stagnant. On Friday a special U.N. mission to Argentina said that there is growing concern that people — not only the popular but the middle classes — don’t have enough to eat.
The study found "an increasing number of people going to soup kitchens or skipping meals, and children being forced to rely for their daily meals entirely on school feeding programs."
While Macri is set to speak in front of the 193 leaders of the General Assembly, back in Argentina one of its largest and oldest national unions, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) is set to hold its fourth general strike since the president took office in late 2015.
The president told local media before leaving that, "every step we take is a difficulty overcome and every difficulty overcome makes us stronger." He said that "little by little" the country’s economy "is going to improve."
The president reiterated as he did months ago, that "the worst is over" and told Argentines that they themselves are "making the best efforts” to put the country back on track.