It is no big secret that Argentines have a love and affinity for big American fast food chains such as Wendys or Mcdonalds etc But what maybe truly one of Argentina's worst kept secret works out to be the best deal for tourist and expats wanting to save a buck or two in the midst of inflation ( For those of you who don't know, the gov't insists that the inflation level is at a modest 10% but stats done but independent researcher indicates that inflation level are between 25-30%)
What is this deal that I am talking about? It is a deal that exist in any mcdonalds that you walk into in Argentina that isn't advertised as part of the menu. Over the years, the mcdonalds brand has become synonymous with its all famous big mac meal. Yet in Buenos Aires, you'd be hard pressed to see any pictures of the big mac combo being advertised. However if you asks for it, it is available and not only that, the bonus for your dilligence and perseverence in pursing the Big Mac is rewarded by the fact that it is 30% less than all the items offered on the main menu.
For years economist have been speculating over the Big Mac controversy. Why would someone take Mcdonald's most famous burger, hide it from the menu and price it at 30% less than all the other available offerings. The big theory behind this puzzling behavior is that there is speculation that the reason for this is because the gov't fixed the price of the Big Mac to manipulate statistics. When researchers worldwide are trying to come up with the stats for inflations rates, they may take the item of something specifically and compare it with the prices in other countries. For example, stats have shown us that Buenos Aires is the most expensive place in the world to purchase an ipad.
However, when analyst are attemping to use the Big Mac as their specific example and compare its price with other Big Macs worldwide, this is where things get a little shady. Because if they economist are judging by the price of the Big Mac alone, in the case of Argentina this is the one item on the menu that is 30% lower than all the other items. So their records (which use the Big Mac as the example) would say that yes indeed, inflation is only 10% as opposed to the 30% that independent analyst are saying.
Whatever the case, the gov't isn't the only one reaping vast benefits from having fixed the price of the Big Mac. Poor blokes like me trying to save every last peso benefit greatly from knowing this "secret" menu item. In case you haven't heard about it, "Supersize Me" is a documentary about a man who conducts a very unusual experiement. He goes 30 days eating only Mcdonalds and documents the effects it has on him mentally, emotionally, physically, psychologically.
All I can say is that with inflation on the rise, I almost feel temped to play a game of "Supersize Me: The Argentine Edtiion" starring yours truly. As each day passes, the golden arches beckon to me more and more with promises of 22 peso Big Mac that will always be there for me and whose price will never waver, like a faithful married spouse. And when my marriage to the golden arches is going through a rough patch, I at least have a mistress.............Wendys.
So the battle between rising rates and suspicious stats continues. And who knows? Maybe one day in order to fight a supersized inflation, I may just have to "Supersize Me" ;)