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Believe it or not: Argentina unveils new inflation index aimed at stabilizing economy

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    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez lifts a trophy given to her by a supporter during an event at the Casa Rosada government palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. The trophy had been given to the supporter by the late Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron for winning a chess tournament . (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) (The Associated Press)

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    A woman asks the price of different cuts of meat at a market in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. President Cristina Fernandez's government has issued several price control programs to try to tame inflation, which private economists estimate at around 30 percent. Rising consumer prices remain among Argentines' biggest worries. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) (The Associated Press)

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    Port workers demonstrate outside the customs building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. The protesters say the government is not paying retired port workers their state pension plan, affecting over 1,000 of their union members. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) (The Associated Press)

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    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez waves to supporters during an event at the Casa Rosada government palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) (The Associated Press)

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    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez gives a speech, aired on national TV, during an event at the Casa Rosada government palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano) (The Associated Press)

Believe it, or not? That's the question of the day in Argentina, where economic stability may depend on the credibility of a new inflation index.

Critics say that Argentina has been systematically underestimating inflation and thus overestimating economic growth. Even many government allies distrust the official numbers.

The government promises to solve the problem Thursday by introducing a new index developed with help from the International Monetary Fund.

The old index almost always reported monthly inflation at less 1 percent, when any shopper could see their costs growing much higher. Private economists told Congress that January's inflation was 4.6 percent — the highest in many years.

Economist Matias Carugati says that no one will believe the new figures if they show less than 3 percent inflation for January.