Argentina's currency plunges after its central bank hikes rates to 60%
- The Central Bank of Argentina raised its benchmark interest rate to 60%.
- On Wednesday, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said he has asked the International Monetary Fund to speed up bailout payments to the country.
Argentina's central bank hiked rates by 15 percentage points – to 60% – on Thursday after the peso continued to slide despite the country already having the highest borrowing rates in the world.
The Central Bank of Argentina raised its benchmark interest rate up from 45% after the peso slid more than 8% to fresh lows. It is the worst-performing emerging market currency of 2018.
By comparison, South Africa's prime lending rate is currently 10%.
The rate hike comes as the International Monetary Fund, which has extended Argentina the largest credit line in its history, considers speeding up bailout payments to the country. Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Wednesday he had requested IMF do so in order to "eliminate any uncertainty that was created before the worsening of the international outlook."
As part of the three-year standby agreement, the government has received $15 billion so far and was poised to get an additional $3 billion next month.
Citing a ballooning debt burden and a weakening peso, the rating agency Moody's on Tuesday cut its growth forecast for Argentina. It estimates gross domestic product will contract by 1% next year, compared with previous expectations for a 3% expansion.
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