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Economía y Finanzas  
 
31/07/2007 | Argentina's President defends statistics agency

Reuters Staff

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner defended the work of the state statistics agency on Thursday, which economists and opposition parties have accused of manipulating inflation data.

 

Kirchner accused investment funds run by Citigroup , Deutsche Bank , Banco Santander , HSBC and others of trying to pressure Argentina to publish higher inflation data to push up the value of bonds linked to the consumer price index.  

"In recent days, Citibank sold $122 million in bonds, Deutsche Bank, Morgan, Santander, HSBC ... there were big sales of more than $300 million in bonds that were changed into dollars and that is why they push, try in any way they can to make inflation rise so that their profit grows," Kirchner said in a speech at the presidential palace.  

"I don't have any doubt that the INDEC is working very well," Kirchner said. "They are working with absolute transparency."  

"The investment funds are lobbying with the bonds that are updated based on inflation. They want inflation to rise so they try to cast permanent doubt on the INDEC's work," he said.  

Only three months after he was named to restore legitimacy at the agency, Alejandro Barrios resigned as head of the National Statistics Institute (INDEC) on Wednesday.  

Agency employees say they have been under pressure from the government since January to modify the monthly price survey to underreport inflation.  

Kirchner and cabinet ministers have denied applying any pressure.  

Argentine bond prices have plunged this week as investors dump higher-risk emerging markets assets amid concerns of wider fallout from the U.S. credit crisis.   Argentine sovereign risk as measured by the spread between rates on its debt and U.S. Treasuries widened on Thursday to 470 basis points, its widest level since January 2006 <11EMJ>.  

One of Kirchner's top priorities in a time of rapid economic expansion has been to keep inflation under control after it soared to 12.3 percent in 2005.  

A series of government price-freeze accords with businesses, along with subsidies of fuel, transportation, dairy and grains brought inflation down to 9.8 percent last year. Annual inflation stood at 8.8 percent at the end of June.

Reuters (Estados Unidos)

 


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