Javier Milei was inaugurated as Argentina’s president on Sunday, signaling a shift towards harsh spending cuts and economic reforms to address rampant inflation. The 53-year-old libertarian economist pledged a decisive approach to tackle overspending, debt, and complex currency controls in Latin America’s third-largest economy. Thousands of supporters gathered outside Congress, expressing optimism for a new era marked by freedom and economic relief. Milei’s inauguration attracted global leaders, including Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Chile’s Gabriel Boric, and Spain’s King Felipe VI.
Milei, known for his fiery rhetoric against the establishment, presented a rock star persona during his rapid political ascent. His promise to slash public spending, downsize the cabinet, and consider replacing the peso with the US dollar resonated with voters. However, uncertainties surround his actual plans as he softens some stances and forms alliances, adjusting to the political realities in Congress. Inflation nearing 140%, widespread poverty, and dwindling central bank reserves pose significant challenges for Milei’s pragmatic agenda. The coming months may bring social and political turmoil as the new president grapples with complex economic issues, potentially facing stagflation and a contraction in GDP. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects a 2.5% GDP contraction for Argentina in 2023.