Argentina: Annual inflation eases in February
March 16, 2015
Consumer prices increased 0.9% over the previous month in February, according to the inflation index elaborated by the National Statistics Institute (INDEC). The reading came in below the 1.1% increase recorded in January and was in line with market expectations. February’s reading mainly reflected higher prices for health, transport and leisure activities. Conversely, prices for food and clothing recorded lower increases compared to the previous month. In annual terms, inflation eased from 20.9% in January to 18.0% in February.
Argentina’s inflation index, which was introduced early last year, measures prices nationwide, whereas readings prior to February 2014 were based solely on Buenos Aires and the surrounding metropolitan area. The index was implemented in an effort to restore confidence in official inflation data, while also meeting the deadline that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) set in December 2013 requiring Argentina to release new GDP and inflation figures by March 2014. The previous inflation index had been viewed with suspicion both within the country and abroad for underreporting inflation figures, which prompted the IMF to censure Argentina for not supplying accurate economic data.
Suspicions of underreporting, however, have not been completely dispelled as the price increases that the INDEC has been reporting have been far below local private analysts’ independent estimates. The so-called “Congress Index” (IPC-Congreso), which is an alternative inflation gauge based on independent estimates that opposition lawmakers collect, increased 1.5% over the previous month in February (January: +2.1% month-on-month). In annual terms, the IPC-Congreso decreased from 35.2% in January to 31.4% in February.
Author: Cecilia Simkievich, Economist