Think 9% Inflation Is Bad? Try 90%.

As countries around the world try to cope with rising prices, there is no major economy that understands how to live with inflation. Better than Argentina.

For the past 50 years, the country has been facing rapidly rising prices. During the chaos of the late 1980s, inflation soared to an almost unbelievable 3,000 percent, and residents rushed to pick up groceries before clerks with price guns could make their rounds. Now high inflation is back, more than 30 percent annually since 2018.

To understand how Argentines cope, we spent two weeks in and around Buenos Aires, talking to economists, politicians, farmers, restaurateurs, realtors, barbers, taxi drivers, money changers, street performers, street vendors and the unemployed.

The economy isn’t always the best conversation starter, but in Argentina, it elicits animated, cursing, deep sighs and informed opinions about monetary policy from everyone. One woman gleefully showed off her stash for US dollars (an old ski jacket), another explained how she paid in her bra to buy a condo, and a Venezuelan waitress wondered if she had immigrated to the right country.

One thing became strikingly clear: Argentines have developed a very unusual relationship with their money.

They spend their pesos as quickly as they earn them. They buy everything from TVs to potato peelers on installments. They don’t trust banks. They hardly use credit. And after years of constant price hikes, they have little idea what things should cost.

Argentina shows that people can find a way to adapt Years of high inflation, living in an economy that is impossible to predict anywhere else in the world. Life is especially manageable for those who have the tools to make the inversion system work. But all these shock measures mean that few who wield political power during the financial crisis have paid the real price.

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