Argentina’s finance minister Luis Caputo has brushed off concern over the country’s rising debt and the potential impact of rising global risk, while insisting on his commitment to fiscal discipline yesterday.
The administration of Mauricio Macri is expected to tighten its fiscal policy after mid-term elections later this month.
“We have a target of 3.2% of GDP [for next year’s primary budget deficit]. The strategy is to continue to reduce subsidies in utility prices. Growth will play also a significant role. What is important to understand is that for us to meet our fiscal target is a must, we have no other choice,” said Caputo in an interview with GlobalMarkets. He added that the deficit could be zeroed in two years.
It will complete the issue of its E2.6bn bond later this month or in early November. Caputo said he has no immediate plans to tap the Eurobond market again, but he said there was little concern regarding a possible deterioration in external market conditions. “We spoke with the president of Citibank about that [during a meeting in New York]. I participated in a meeting last week held in Berlin, and this was one of the issues that we raised, too. The conclusion is that the situation will likely continue to be very supportive,” he said.
“There is always a risk that there will be a sudden stop and that you find yourself in the middle of a shock,” said Gabriel Torres, senior credit officer at Moody’s, the credit rating agency. “We don’t see this happening today, but that may be a risk,” he said.
Caputo added that fiscal discipline would be increased. “The fiscal target cannot be missed. This is something that will just not happen. It takes a long time to gain credibility and a very short time to lose it. That [missing the target] would be the best way of losing it,” said Caputo.
Investors have been very supportive of Argentina’s policy under the presidency of Mauricio Macri, who was elected in late 2015. “It is very important to remember where Argentina is coming from. The exchange rate has been unified. The final agreement with international creditors has allowed the country to go back to the international credit market after seven years,” said Carlos Vegh, chief Latin America economist at the World Bank. “Argentina is on a very good path.”