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Argentina’s New Government Stops the Lies

Argentina President Mauricio Macri has spent his first several months in office trying to steer the country onto a more promising course. One of the biggest challenges, the FT reports, has been to bring honest accounting back to Argentina’s notoriously unreliable statistics office:

When Argentina’s new centre-right government took office in December, many newly appointed officials were left dumbfounded by the state in which ministries had been left, giving the concept of a paperless office a whole new meaning.

Nowhere was the institutional wasteland inherited by President Mauricio Macri more evident than at the Indec statistics agency, whose figures had been so discredited for so long that a “statistical emergency” was declared shortly after he took office, and the publication of statistics suspended.

Now, for the first time in almost a decade, the statistics agency has published inflation figures widely regarded by independent economists as an accurate reflection of the level of inflation. Prices rose 4.2 per cent in May from the previous month, Indec said on Wednesday. A complete set of national statistics is expected by year’s end.

This is a huge step for Argentina, and Macri deserves great credit for taking it. Even though inflation is still high and the economy remains weak, Argentina will be much better off if investors and its own private businesses can trust official accounts. Foreign investors, in particular, are more likely to direct money Argentina’s way if they feel like they have some idea of how the country is—and is not—performing.

In a reminder of the crony socialism of Macri’s predecessor, an ex-official was arrested on Tuesday after he was caught hiding millions of dollars worth of cash in a monastery.

Macri certainly has his work cut out for him.

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