Macri’s Economic Policies Spur Protest

As the economic crisis and wage-disputes linger in Argentina, protests continue to spread across the country, targeting President Mauricio Macri’s policies. Protests began on March 6, the day classes normally begin in Argentina, when educators started a 48-hour strike in response to the government’s failure to raise wages in accordance with inflation.

Because of these economic pressures, many Argentinians have taken to the streets. For the protest driven by the teacher’s unions, analysts estimate that over 400,000 participated. Rising inflation has left many unable to afford basic necessities. The government cut thousands of public sector jobs, creating even more discontent. Protests are likely to continue unless Macri balances more conservative economic policies with the expressed needs and frustrations of the people.

Macri was elected in December 2015 on a promise to address the rampant inflation and slowing economic growth that has plagued Argentina for years. As a result of his extensive business experience and wealthy family background, the people viewed Macri as a chance to change the system and resolve the worsening crisis. He was heralded as a departure from the leftist-socialist status-quo that characterized Argentine politics during the Kirchner Era, which he has been identified as detrimental to Argentina’s place in the global market.

Argentina’s economy continues to serve as Macri’s primary challenge. He was left with a financial sector in desperate need of capital, an expanding fiscal deficit, and the inflation crisis that reached into double digits by the end of 2015. From a purely macroeconomic outlook, many argue that Macri succeeded in turning Argentina’s economy around, citing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) prediction that the economy will grow by three percent in 2017. This prediction comes after years of economic contraction and indicates the shifting nature of the crisis. This progress has largely been driven by policies that lift restrictions on trade and currency and allow reentry into the global debt market.

However, this progress has not been completely unhindered. Macri’s policies, although arguably successful, have resulted in protests throughout March 2017. For example, a primary motivator in public discontent is the discrepancy between long-term success and present perceptions and impacts. While many argue Macri’s policies indicate long-term growth, analysts do not take into consideration present impacts that motivate protests.

In fact, Macri’s policies primarily have been an effort to bring global respect to the Argentine peso and re-establish proper valuation. The reason Argentina was locked out of debt markets was because of their refusal to recognize or negotiate with holders of their defaulted debt from 2001. To rectify this situation, Macri negotiated a $9.3 billion deal with debt holders. The restrictions on currency put in place by the Kirchner regime meant the peso was overvalued, increasing inflation rates. Upon entering office, Macri faced these problems, and although many view his policies as progress, others perceive them to be regress.