As countries around the world try to cope with rising prices, there is perhaps no major economy that understands how to live with inflation better than Argentina.
The country has struggled with rapidly rising prices for much of the past 50 years. During a chaotic period in the late 1980s, inflation soared to an almost unbelievable 3,000% and locals rushed to get groceries before clerks with price guns could do so. their turn. Today, high inflation is back, exceeding 30% every year since 2018.
To understand how Argentines are coping, we spent two weeks in and around Buenos Aires, talking to economists, politicians, farmers, restaurant owners, real estate agents, barbers, taxi drivers, moneychangers coins, street artists, street vendors and the unemployed.
The economy isn’t always the best topic of conversation, but in Argentina it has animated just about everyone, sparking curses, deep sighs, and educated opinions on monetary policy. One woman happily showed her stash for a wad of US dollars (an old ski jacket), another explained how she stuffed money in her bra to buy a condo, and a Venezuelan waitress snuck up. is asked if she had immigrated to the right country.
One thing has become startlingly clear: Argentines have developed a very unusual relationship with their money.
They spend their pesos as quickly as they receive them. They buy everything from televisions to potato peelers in installments. They don’t trust banks. They barely use credit. And after years of constant price hikes, they have no idea what things should cost.
Argentina shows that people will find a way to adapt to years of high inflation, living in an economy impossible to understand almost anywhere else in the world. Life is especially manageable for those who can afford to turn the system upside down. But all of these stark workarounds mean that few of those who have held political power through years of economic distress have found themselves paying the real price.