Argentina: IMF acts on inflation

So, it finally did it. After a series of warnings, the International Monetary Fund has issued a declaration of censure against Argentina over its faulty inflation and GDP data.

It’s an unprecedented step. It could be followed by the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the IMF under a lengthy procedure now set in motion. But few people (yet) expect it to come to that.

Argentina – where inflation is estimated by private economists at 25 per cent a year and rising but seen by the government at around 11 per cent or less for last year – is unlikely to feel the heat is seriously on. The IMF has given it nine more months to fix the figures and the IMF’s board will study the issue again in November.

If Argentina does nothing to repair its dodgy data by then, a full three years will have passed since it asked the IMF for help in designing a new index. Though it has in the past talked vaguely about any such index not being ready before 2013, there is no sign that it will be ready anytime soon, or indeed that any progress at all has been made.

No one at the economy ministry was available for comment and at Indec, the discredited Argentine state statistics office, there was no reaction.

The Fund said it:

Stands ready to continue its dialogue with the Argentine authorities to improve the quality of the official [inflation] and GDP data, and, more generally, to strengthen the relationship between Argentina and the Fund.

But the Argentine government could hardly have a worse opinion of an organisation it sees as out of touch and to blame for economic crises and painful austerity palns. Don’t hold your breath for any rapprochement.