An economy in the dumps is usually a death knell for a president seeking reelection. Yet as of now, Argentina’s Mauricio Macri has an even chance of winning again in October. His electoral resilience contradicts the “It’s the economy, stupid” maxim, showing that other issues can and do grab the imagination of voters. More importantly, it highlights changes in Argentina to which his opponents have failed to adapt.
For Argentina, 2018 was an economic year to forget. The peso halved in value, inflation hit its highest levels since the early 1990s, an incipient recovery vanished into recession. The government had to negotiate not one but two bailouts from the reviled International Monetary Fund, to the tune of $57 billion.
Most believe the economy has now hit bottom. The upcoming harvest promises to be much better, last year’s drought now past. Argentine exports are benefiting from Brazil’s stronger currency and economic recovery. And energy is booming, the Vaca Muerta oil fields proving richer and more productive than expected.