Argentina’s new treasury minister, Hernan Lacunza, took charge of a troubled economy on Tuesday after the local peso took a dive last week following business-friendly President Mauricio Macri’s harsh beating in the Aug. 11 primary election.
Lacunza, formerly the chief of economy for Buenos Aires province, was sworn in by Macri before the local financial markets opened.
“I ask you to focus on reducing the cost that this electoral process is having on the day to day life of our people, and to reduce the uncertainties that are doing damage,” Macri told Lacunza during the swearing-in ceremony.
Macri, struggling to revive his campaign for a second term in the Oct. 27 general election, is betting that the new treasury chief can help stabilize the recession- and inflation-racked economy.
The cost of insuring against an Argentine sovereign default rose on Monday after opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez said the country would struggle under present conditions to repay a loan to the International Monetary Fund. Fernandez, a center-left Peronist, is the front-runner ahead of the October vote.
The peso tumbled 18% last week to 55 to the US dollar.
In early action on Tuesday, the bond market registered more nervousness about a possible Fernandez presidency. Argentina’s portion of the JP Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Plus saw the country’s risk spread shoot to 1,880 basis points from 1,659 on Friday. Monday was a market holiday in Argentina.
Lacunza was expected to give a news conference to outline his policy plans later Tuesday morning. Outgoing treasury minister Nicolas Dujovne quit on Saturday, saying he believed the country needed “significant renewal” of its economic team.