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  • Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 June 2018
Opinion

Argentina's renewed ties to the International Monetary Fund recall the austerity-triggered crisis of 2001 which led to the organization's expulsion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s executive board approved a US$50 billion financing loan for Argentina on Wednesday. A total of US$15 billion will be disbursed immediately, with the remaining US$35 billion considered "precautionary," according to the IMF.

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When the administration of President Mauricio Macri announced Argentina would be turning to the IMF in May, many were outraged.

After IMF-imposed austerity policies led to a major economic crisis in 2001, the neoliberal institution became widely unpopular. Former President Nestor Kirchner said the IMF would never again be welcome in Argentina.

Argentine authorities will use half of the loan to finance the budget, the IMF said.

Macri's neoliberal-friendly policies have led to a rise in inflation and sharp hikes in prices of public services and goods that have affected the most vulnerable, but the IMF still holds high praise for this political direction, saying the economic woes are an "ill-fated confluence of factors."

"For the past 2.5 years, Argentina has been engaged in a systematic transformation of its economy, including deep changes to foreign exchange markets, subsidies and taxation, as well as improvements to their official statistics," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

The deep involvement of the IMF in Argentina's economy only solidifies Macri's sharp turn away from the so-called 'populist' policies of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez, which emphasized sovereignty and independence from foreign financial institutions and the expansion of social programs.

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