Tony Leon: SA's lessons from Argentinian economic crisis

Argentina’s economy is in a state of economic paralysis.

The country is currently suffering a recession and an inflation rate of 55%, and the Peso currency took a plunge on Monday ahead of a re-election bid.

Some say the crisis could be a warning for South Africa.

Former Democratic Alliance leader and ambassador to Argentina highlights lessons that can be learned in the South African context.

He joins Bongani Bingwa to discuss what we can learn.

Leon lived in Argentina for three years until 2012 as South African ambassador.

I kept being struck by the extraordinary similarities between our countries.

Tony Leon, Former SA ambassador to Argentina

He says in the 1930s Argentina was the seventh richest countries in the world, and currently, it's economy is smaller than South Africa.

Mauricio Macri is the current president of Argentina and has been in office since 2015 but his reign may be coming to an end.

Centre-left candidate Alberto Fernandez won the presidential primaries in Argentina this past Sunday show those proposing radical economic transformation "are on the comeback trail", says Leon.

And the markets reacted violently to that on Monday...and it could mean Argentian is in for more hard times ahead.

Tony Leon, Former SA ambassador to Argentina

The country has not had success with IMF bailouts either, he adds

Argentina is the poster boy for the lack of success with IMF bailouts. I think they have had ten or eleven...and it's always ended badly.

Tony Leon, Former SA ambassador to Argentina

But the bailouts have been necessitated by "terrible economic decisions made by various domestic presidents."

He says Argentina's public finances are far worse than those of South Africa.

The biggest problem in Argentina is inflation whereas we have a very sober Reserve Bank and inflation here is well under control....in Argentina the resort to printing money has been almost irresistible.

Tony Leon, Former SA ambassador to Argentina

South Africa is not yet in that position, but things can accelerate or deaccelerate very quickly, he warns.

He says another aspect in Argentina's populist playbook familiar to South Africans was the massive rise in corruption within the presidency.

Listen to the interview below:


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