It is already clear that the removal of electricity subsidies will hit the heart of the middle class, which will contribute to a predictable climate of disgust to which the inflation rates of, at least, July and August will be added. If the process is not accompanied by measures that contribute to the pockets of workers and retirees, what is fixed in the macro indices will break down in the social situation. If that flank is neglected, the alliance that supports the government would also suffer.
From the point of view of views on the economy, the government represented the confluence of a more “distributionist” sector, and another with a more “productivist” profile. The weight of the debt with the International Monetary Fund made its negotiation a priority and then the pandemic made health policies a priority.
During the first two years of the Frente de Todos government, distributive policies were relegated to other priorities. The result of this management was that of one of the countries that came out better from the pandemic both in the health balance and in that of the macroeconomic indices: in a short time the abrupt fall was recovered and even the downturned activity that had left the pandemic was overcome. government of Mauricio Macri.
In 2021, companies had wide profit margins and jobs were generated, but at the same time a large part of society was impoverished. The political expression of that equation was totally unfavorable for the government: it lost the mid-term elections and the business sector, instead of supporting it, redoubled its demands without hiding its sympathy for the macrista policies that had harmed it.
The rebounds from the war between Russia and Ukraine fit into this matrix and pushed inflation and food prices, with which those who had been losing lost again and those who had been winning multiplied their profits. Without a strong state presence, all these circumstances (debt negotiation, pandemic and war) end up favoring the strongest and harming the weak, because that is always the result of the free market.
They are all unbalancing situations that, although they favor a sector of capital, produce cuts in all levels of activity. It is not just a social issue. In fact, the European governments, the same ones that ideologically destroyed the welfare state that the social democracies had built, had to intervene in the economy with drastic measures, such as the nationalization of energy in France or the heavy taxes on wealth in Germany. and Spain.
When the crisis brought the economy to the brink of a hyper-out of control, the Frente de Todos was able to reaffirm itself and find a formula that would stop the fall with the arrival of Sergio Massa with very explicit support from politicians, trade unionists and social leaders.
It is inevitable that in this situation there will be moments of cost cutting, which in concrete terms means “adjustment”. But here there is a sector that has been tightened, at least since Macri took office. And for the most part it is the social base that supported the Frente de Todos. The new economic scheme presented by Massa cannot ignore this fact of reality that is expressed in the bad mood of the people themselves, beyond the hatred of the opposition, largely manufactured by the hegemonic media.
The people, the town, feel the inflation, feel if salaries or pensions are not enough, if prices increase every week and if they have to go back in their quality of life: eat less meat or look for cheaper shoes. It does not discuss macro indices.
Surely the progressive reduction of inflation will favor the popular sectors, but for them to feel part of the same boat, there must be direct measures. And if they take him out, at least he has to see that they take more from the one who has more. Solidarity is understood by giving as well as receiving. As some comedian would say: being rich also implies a responsibility, it has to have a consideration in the same way that is demanded from the poor.
Salary and retirement policies constitute one of the four variables proposed by Massa in his speech. The other three lifelines are more related to productive and financial issues that are based on an indisputable logic: stopping the fall and promoting growth protects and increases the cake that must be distributed.
But it would be a mistake to think that the people eat glass and that it can be screwed only with promises and words. Empty demagoguery showed that time is always short. And that policies that only favor capital can have immediate results, but they always end up in the middle of a fire, with an economic crisis and a political crisis because they are destabilizing and have a low rate of governability.
They are indices that do not contemplate neoliberal policies. They are political issues or social issues that, according to them, are not related to the parameters that companies need to do business. They imagine that they can solve them with repression. And that makes things worse. This was the experience in the governments of Carlos Menem, Fernando de la Rúa and Mauricio Macri. The public spending that Macri increased the most was that of equipment to repress social protest. And so it was.
The success of the measures exposed by Massa depends on the economic variables that he raised in his presentation, but also on the social variables. There is also a political factor that was very evident by the way in which the government was weakened with the untimely departure of Martín Guzmán, his star minister. That flank was strongly supported by the support of Cristina and Máximo Kirchner, the union leadership, the Buenos Aires mayors and the governors. That support produced a parenthesis of expectation in business sectors that will also try to pressure based on their interests.
The emergence of the figure of Massa with such force runs between that discomfort that resents an important sector of the social base that supports the Front of All, to which is added the distrust for some moments of his history, such as his relationship, largely exaggerated measure, with political sectors in Washington. The correct performance in the Chamber of Deputies and the approval that he recovered among the majority of the Kirchner leaders balanced the balance enough for those sectors to wait for the new minister to start walking.
If he manages to finalize the advance of five billion dollars for exports together with the agreement to refinance the debt in pesos, as he announced at the press conference, he will have recovered what was set back when Guzmán left. You will have a more comfortable starting point.
Many of the new officials have been collaborators of Roberto Lavagna or referenced in the former minister in terms of their economic conceptions. Lavagna was the minister that Chacho Alvarez had in mind when he was Fernando de la Rúa’s vice-presidential candidate. But de la Rúa imposed José Luis Machinea. The ideas that Lavagna represents in the economic sphere initially converged with Kirchnerism, which represented a more distributionist vision.
Those conceptions existed from the start in Peronism. Although it is a time of scarcity and crisis, if the distributive idea is annulled, it is probable that the others will not work either.