Argentine central bank chief Sandleris to step down

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's central bank chief Guido Sandleris attends a news conference after Peronist challenger Alberto Fernandez defeated incumbent Mauricio Macri in the presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina central bank chief Guido Sandleris resigned on Wednesday, an expected step as Latin America’s third-largest economy transitions to Peronism next week under newly elected President Alberto Fernandez.

Sandleris said in a letter to President Mauricio Macri that he would leave his position on Dec. 9, one day before Fernandez will be sworn into office.

Sandleris said he was honored to have served, but worried Argentina’s tradition of overhauling central bank leadership with every election contributed to a “lack of basic consensus around the importance of building a healthy currency, and, especially, how to go about it.”

The peso has sunk since last year and annual inflation is over 50%.

Argentina’s incoming Peronist government now faces a major test to right an economy that has been mired in recession for much of the last year, grappling with soaring inflation, rising poverty and interest rates above 60%.

Fernandez has yet to announce a new central bank president. But Miguel Angel Pesce, an economist, is a likely candidate, according to one source with knowledge of the matter and some domestic media outlets.

Sandleris, who holds a doctorate in economics from Columbia University, had been in his role since September 2018. He previously served as economic policy secretary under outgoing conservative President Mauricio Macri.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Dave Sherwood and Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot