Milei’s Economic ‘Shock Therapy’ Pays Off, With Argentina Seeing First Budget Surplus in More Than a Decade

The Argentine president plans to bring his message to America’s capital in the coming days.

Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images
Presidential candidate Javier Milei during a rally on September 25, 2023 at Buenos Aires. Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images

The government of Argentina has posted its first monthly budget surplus in more than a decade — a major milestone for the new libertarian president, Javier Milei. His economic and budgetary reforms still face an uphill battle in his legislature, however. 

With inflation and poverty ravaging much of the country, Mr. Milei’s stated goal of “shock therapy” for the nation has been met with adulation from ideologues young and old, and scorn from union bosses. 

The nearly $600 million monthly surplus is the first to occur since August 2012, and the monthly inflation rate even fell in January to 20.6 percent from 25.5 percent. “The zero deficit is not negotiable,” the Economy Minister, Luis Caputo, says on X. 

On February 2, the chamber of deputies passed a framework agreement for Mr. Milei’s reforms aimed at privatizing state companies, deregulating the economy, and making changes to the nation’s criminal and environmental laws. The legislature is still debating the fine text of the package, but if it passes, it would mark a significant victory for Mr. Milei’s libertarian theory of governance. 

“They understood the historical context and chose to end the privileges of the caste and the corporate republic, in favor of the people, who have been impoverished and are hungry,” Mr. Milei said after the lower chamber passed the preliminary motion on his reform package. 

As Mr. Milei was pushing for the reform package in January, tens of thousands of Argentine citizens took to the streets for a general strike organized by one of the nation’s largest unions, the General Confederation of Labor. 

The new president has made it clear that he intends to be a kind of global ambassador for libertarianism and capitalism, meeting with President Clinton after his election and speaking at Davos to decry socialism shortly after his inauguration. 

In February, he will make his way to Washington D.C. to address the Conservative Political Action Conference — the annual gathering of American conservatives that has drawn visitors from as far as Japan and Hungary. He will be joined by President Trump and the populist conservative president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele. 

“We are immensely gratified that President Javier Milei of Argentina will address the activists at CPAC,” the chairman of CPAC, Matt Schlapp, said in a statement. “We believe he has captured the spirit of those who see the treachery of globalist elites. American patriots are rooting for him to succeed, and we also like the chainsaw.”

The New York Sun

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