SAN FERNANDO, Argentina - Argentina's annual inflation rate tore past 100% in February, the country's statistics agency said on Tuesday, the first time it has hit triple figures since a period of hyperinflation in 1991, over three decades ago.
Inflation over 12 months clocked in at 102.5% in the second month of the year, government data showed, with a higher-than-expected 6.6% monthly rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and a 13.1% year-to-date increase.
In Argentina's markets, shops and homes, the impact of spiraling prices is being felt keenly as one of the highest inflation rates in the world stretches people's wallets.
"There's just nothing left, there's no money, people don't have anything, so how do they buy?" said retiree Irene Devita, 74, as she checked grocery price tags in a market fair in San Fernando on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
With inflation so high, prices change almost weekly.
"The other day I came and asked for three tangerines, two oranges, two bananas and half a kilo of tomatoes. When he told me it cost 650 pesos ($3.22), I told him take everything out and leave just the tomatoes because I don't have enough money," Devita said.
The government has tried in vain to tame the rising prices, which dent people's earning power, savings, the country's economic growth and the ruling party's chances of clinging onto power in crunch elections later this year.
On the streets, inflation is all many people can talk about. It seeds frustration and anger as salaries often fall behind the cost of goods despite government schemes to cap prices and limit grains exports to boost domestic supply.
Patricia Quiroga, 50, said 100% inflation was impossible to bear as she waiting on line to do her shopping.
"I am tired, tired, just tired of all this, of the politicians who fight while the people die of hunger," she told Reuters. "This can't go on any more." -- Reuters