Oct 28, 2019

All eyes on Alberto Fernandez, Argentina's new president

President-elect Alberto Fernandez.

President-elect Alberto Fernandez. Photo: Patrick Haar/Getty Images

Alberto Fernandez was declared Argentina's next president on Sunday night, leading to a likely showdown with creditors on Argentina's bonds.

What's happening: Fernandez has repeatedly called for a "reprofiling" of Argentina's $100 billion debt load — much of it taken on by current President Mauricio Macri — often invoking a default in Uruguay from 2003 as an example.

  • Argentina's economy is expected to begin recovery next year from an extended recession during which its currency fell from around 15-to-1 against the dollar to nearly 60-to-1, poverty increased dramatically and inflation sky-rocketed.

The intrigue: New IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva has indicated she is amenable to continuing Argentina's bailout program — a record $57 billion package signed by Macri.

  • "The fault [for Argentina's current condition] is not in politics, but we also don’t live outside the real world in our function," she said during a Q&A session at the IMF's fall meetings earlier this month.
  • "What we are very committed to is to try to find a way we can be helpful to the Argentinean people," Georgieva said.

The big picture: There also appears to be appetite by Fernandez and Vice President-elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina's president 2007–2015, for maintaining the program.

What's next: Investors have driven the price of the bonds to below 40 cents on the dollar, below the recovery value of Uruguay's bonds. This has some emerging market fund managers calling the bonds cheap and looking to buy.

  • However, others are staying away given Argentina's history of defaults and Kirchner's personal history of refusing to play ball with bondholders.

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