After surviving a contentious election, Argentina's newly elected president is set to inherit an economy in tatters, a faltering currency and international arbitration over debts running in the billions of dollars.
Although the road ahead will be tough to navigate, many observers are hopeful Macri's policies can distance the country from those of his combative predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Analysts and investors are reasonably optimistic that the center-right president with a pro-business bent can repair much of the economic and diplomatic damage to Latin America's third-largest economy.
After Macri ended 12 years of Peronist-run governments under Fernandez and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, the first order of business will be a potential debt deal, the legacy of Argentina's 2001 economic meltdown that triggered a default on $100 billion worth of sovereign debt — the largest in history. A protracted legal battle and a stalemate with Fernandez all but forced the country back into default last year.
A new agreement could allow the country to tap markets anew and boost its hard currency reserves, which are in short supply.
"Macri has a very strong chance of settling this issue, mainly because he has the political will to do so and enjoys the trust of the markets," said Jimena Blanco, head of Americas with global risk and strategy consultancy Maplecroft.
Blanco told CNBC that Argentina's main barrier to getting over its debt hump are the New York-based holdout bondholders, who have judgments worth $2.4 billion.
Given the recent expiration of a bond exchange clause, Macri "is in a position to offer the holdouts a much better deal than Fernandez could have done" just last year.
With Fernandez gone, "Macri might well … put this to bed once and for all," though a full repayment may be too politically costly, Blanco said.