As countries the world over attempt to address rising prices, there is probably no major economy that understands tips on how to live with inflation higher than Argentina.
The country has struggled with rapidly rising prices for much of the past 50 years. During a chaotic stretch within the late Eighties, inflation hit an almost unbelievable 3,000 percent and residents rushed to grab up groceries before clerks with price guns could make their rounds. Now high inflation is back, exceeding 30 percent every 12 months since 2018.
To grasp how Argentines cope, we spent two weeks in and around Buenos Aires, talking to economists, politicians, farmers, restaurateurs, realtors, barbers, taxi drivers, money changers, street performers, street vendors and the unemployed.
The economy is just not at all times one of the best conversation starter, but in Argentina, it animated nearly everyone, eliciting curses, deep sighs and informed opinions about monetary policy. One woman happily showed off her hiding spot for a wad of U.S. dollars (an old ski jacket), one other explained how she stuffed money into her bra to purchase a condo, and a Venezuelan waitress wondered whether she had immigrated to the best country.
One thing became strikingly clear: Argentines have developed a highly unusual relationship with their money.
They spend their pesos as quickly as they get them. They buy every thing from TVs to potato peelers in installments. They don’t trust banks. They hardly use credit. And after years of constant price hikes, they’re left with little idea of how much things should cost.
Argentina shows that folks will discover a solution to adapt to years of high inflation, living in an economy that’s not possible to fathom almost anywhere else on this planet. Life is very manageable for those with the means to make the upside-down system work. But all those striking workarounds mean that few who’ve held political power during years of economic distress have found themselves paying an actual price.