Duhalde was in the unenviable position of trying to pilot the Argentine economy to recovery. In February 2002, he presented a budget and announced elections for 2003, urging citizens to be patient as he and his advisors implemented economic recovery measures. The budget contained some several billion dollars in cuts, a large percentage of which were to be accomplished by suspending scheduled debt payments.
Duhalde faced an uphill battle to win support for his tough recovery measures from the Argentine citizens, many of whom saw their life savings disappear when the currency's peg to the U.S. dollar was eliminated. Compounding the public's skepticism was Duhalde's reputation as a Perónist, the nickname for the party that has been plagued by allegations of corruption and scandal for decades. The historically placid Argentine middle class took to the streets in noisy protest as they saw their financial security destabilizing in the economic crisis of early 2002.