Argentina’s libertarian President Javier Milei praised free markets and slammed socialism at Davos on Wednesday (January 17) during the first overseas tour for the self-proclaimed ‘anarcho-capitalist,’ who is battling to fix a major economic crisis at home.
During his speech, Milei focused on the role of the state across a wide range of activities, which he said amounted to levers of control rather than allowing citizens the freedom to prosper through their own efforts.
The trip marks a test for right-wing Milei, a relative political newcomer who took office last month after a rapid ascent from acid-tongued economist and TV pundit to the presidency. He is keen to win backing for his economic ideas, which include shutting the central bank and adopting the dollar.
Ahead of the speech, Milei met British foreign minister David Cameron and was set for a head-to-head with International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva, after Argentina struck a staff level agreement last week to salvage its $44 billion loan program with the fund.
Milei is battling to bring down inflation that topped 200% last year and rebuild depleted Argentina’s foreign currency reserves.
He is pushing major economic reforms, including spending cuts and deregulation, in a bid to improve the government’s finances and boost the economy. But he faces poverty levels which are climbing above 40% and the threat of social unrest.