BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Maria Florencia Humano opened a clothing store in 2016, convinced that Argentina’s long history of economic crises had ended under pro-business President Mauricio Macri.
She will shutter it later this month, unable to make rent or loan payments. Soaring interest rates and a plunging currency have upended her dream and returned Argentina to a familiar place: asking the International Monetary Fund for a lifeline.
Humano’s decision comes just weeks after a somber Macri announced in a televised May 8 speech that Argentina would start talks with the IMF. He is seeking a credit line worth at least $19.7 billion to fund the government through the end of his first term in late 2019.
The unexpected move surprised investors and stoked Argentines’ fears of a repeat of the nation’s devastating 2001-2002 economic collapse. Many here blame IMF-imposed austerity measures for worsening that crisis, which impoverished millions and turned Argentina into a global pariah after the government defaulted on a record $100 billion in debt.
Word of a potential bailout sent thousands of angry Argentines into the streets this month, some with signs declaring “enough of the IMF.”
As recently as a few months ago, analysts were hailing Argentina as an emerging-market success story. Now some are predicting recession. Macri’s popularity has plummeted. Supporters such as business owner Humano say they feel swindled.
“I voted for him. I made a bet and believed in him,” said Humano, 46, who recently moved in with her sister to save money. “Now I don’t believe anyone.”...