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Fri May 22, 2020, 12:20 PM

Argentine GDP fell 11.5% in March as lockdown kicked in

Economic activity in Argentina slumped 11.5% in March compared to the same month in 2019, as the nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic kicked in.

It was the largest decline registered by the INDEC statistics bureau since the 2002 post-convertibility crisis, illustrating the impact of the quarantine on economic activity. An even worse collapse is anticipated in April, given that the federal stay-home order only began on March 20.

The sectors that were hardest hit were fishing (minus 48.6%), construction (minus 46.5%), and hotels and restaurants (minus 30.8%). The only area that registered growth was electricity, gas and water services (up 6.7%), as Argentines mostly stayed home.

INDEC data shows that first quarter GDP declined by 5.4% from the same time a year earlier.

GDP had already declined 5.8% in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier - when a debt bubble known locally as the "financial bicycle" crashed under former President Mauricio Macri.

President Alberto Fernández, who defeated Macri last October, is negotiating a broad debt restructuring with creditors on $66 billion in sovereign bonds.

Argentina currently owes a total of $250 billion in foreign currency-denominated public debt - including $44 billion to the IMF. Over $34 billion is owed this year alone to private and foreign creditors.

IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva declared that the country needs debt relief of between $55 billion and $85 billion.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/economy/economic-activity-fell-115-in-march-as-lockdown-kicked-in.phtml

A quiet weekday morning in Buenos Aires' normally bustling Constitución Station.

A federal stay-home order issued on March 19 has helped curve the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in Argentina - which has fewer than one-sixth the cases seen in neighboring Chile (a country with under half its population).

The restrictions, however, have led a sharp deepening of the country's two-year "Macrisis" - its worst debt and economic crisis in two decades.

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