Consensus at Congressional Briefing Ahead of Dec 17 IMF Deadline for Argentina
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At an event at the Rayburn Building of the U.S. House of Representatives, experts expressed alarm over steps taken by the Argentine government to hide its runaway inflation, including levying large fines and filing criminal charges against statisticians who report inflation data different from the government's estimates. In September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) formally "regretted" Argentina's lack of progress in providing reliable economic data and gave the country a deadline of December 17 to fix the problem or face censure.
During a briefing entitled, "Argentina's Faulty Statistics and Runaway Inflation", Carnegie Mellon University's Joseph B. (Jay) Kadane urged the Kirchner Administration to stop repressing statisticians, arguing that freedom of speech and press in Argentina are at stake.
"Argentina is underreporting inflation by a very substantial amount. More troubling, however, is the fact that the Kirchner administration is violating human rights and freedom of speech with its fines and criminal cases brought against statisticians who report the truth. Argentina should take steps to reform its economic data, but this will take time. In the immediate term, the Kirchner Administration must immediately halt its persecution against economic analysts who simply report their findings," explained Professor Kadane, a statistician who will become chair of the American Statistical Association (ASA) Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human rights in January 2013.
He cited a recent study, "Online and Official Price Indexes: Measuring Argentina's Inflation," which found that in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela, online price indexes are in sync with the respective governments' reported inflation data. By contrast, Argentina's online inflation rate is nearly three times higher than the official estimate.
Opening the event, Dr. Robert Shapiro, Co-Chair of ATFA, explained that Argentina's inflation problem is rooted in the country's historic sovereign default of some $81 billion in 2001 and subsequent policies to offset the consequences of its efforts to skirt repayment to U.S. and international bondholders. Since 2007 the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INDEC) – Argentina's national statistics agency – has not accurately reported its inflation data and has ratcheted up pressure on economists and institutions publishing results that differ from official numbers. In some cases, the government has imposed fines of $150,000 on individual statisticians and threatened them with jail-time if they continue. The American Statistical Association has urged the United Nations to take action against Argentina, on the ground that the harassment is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.
"Argentina has steadfastly refused to open its books to the IMF, which is now demanding more accurate inflation figures. It is a profound and dangerous thing when governments of leading nations determine that Argentina cannot be trusted," explained Dr. Shapiro. "Argentina's economic situation can be turned around. That has been the objective of the efforts by United States to suspend Argentina's preferred trade status and oppose most loans to the country by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank."
The American Task Force Argentina (ATFA) is an alliance of organizations united for a just and fair reconciliation of the Argentine government's 2001 debt default and subsequent restructuring. Our members work with lawmakers, the media, and other interested parties to encourage the United States government to vigorously pursue a negotiated settlement with the Argentine government in the interests of American stakeholders.
SOURCE American Task Force Argentina