‘Blue dollar’ reaches new high as Milei advises against investing in pesos

‘The peso is the currency emitted by Argentine politicians, therefore it’s worth less than excrement’

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei hold dollar bills with his face on them, during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Cristina Sille//File Photo

Updated: Tuesday, October 10, at 12:40

Argentina’s informal dollar exchange rate, popularly known as the “blue dollar,” rose by AR$105 on Tuesday morning, reaching a nominal value of AR$1,050 for the first time ever. The rate rose by AR$65 on Monday, meaning it has accumulated gains of AR$170 (19%) to the dollar in the first day and a half of the week.

The steep increase followed comments by far-right La Libertad Avanza (LLA) presidential candidate Javier Milei publicly advising against fixed deposits in pesos — qualifying the local currency as “worth less than excrement.” 

“Honestly, nothing by this point is shocking,” said Gustavo Quintana, an analyst and broker for PR Corredores de Cambio, of Monday’s gains. “Declarations by candidates, one in particular, spur on this tendency, and the supply is withdrawn, impacting prices. Specifically, Milei’s statements today calling to dismantle fixed deposits in pesos.”

In an interview on Radio Mitre on Monday morning, the libertarian economist talked about his dollarization proposal — which consultants have previously told the Herald is exerting further pressure on the local currency — and advised those who have made fixed deposits in pesos not to renew them if they want to save money.

“Never in pesos, never in pesos. The peso is the currency emitted by Argentine politicians, therefore it’s worth less than excrement because those pieces of trash aren’t good for manure,” Milei said.

Economy Minister and Unión por la Patria (UxP) presidential candidate Sergio Massa condemned Milei’s comments. 

“You can’t do just anything for the vote,” Massa said in an interview on Gelatina, a YouTube streaming channel. “Putting people’s savings at risk for a vote, putting the financial system at risk which Argentina already lived through in 2001, is off limits.”

The country’s Central Bank also published a communiqué on X (formerly Twitter), emphasizing its role in safeguarding people’s savings.

“The Argentine financial system is solid in terms of solvency, capital, liquidity, and provisioning,” read the press release. “The savings of Argentines […] are protected by deposit insurance and by the role of the Central Bank of Argentina, which acts as a lender of last resort. 

“The stability of the financial system is a public good that has been maintained under different governments and its liquidity and solvency guarantee that it will be able to respond to eventual stress situations.”

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The blue dollar has risen steadily over the past couple of weeks and is expected to continue breaking records in the homestretch of the October 22 election. Monday’s record-high nominal value means that it’s now more than double the official exchange rate.

“It’s a logical reaction that continues to honor the tendency of dollarizing savings when faced with the elections and the negative expectations about what may happen,” Quintana said of the increasing nominal value. “In Argentina, the dollar has always been a refuge asset par excellence and at this time, more so.”

When asked about political solutions to the blue dollar’s increase, Quintana said that candidates “are campaigning and I don’t see them showing signs of trying to calm the situation.” 

“I don’t see many reasons for this process to stop. In any case, we have to wait a few days to see what happens,” he told the Herald

With last week’s increase in both the blue dollar and the blue-chip swap rates, the authorities cracked down on underground dollar operations and further restricted access to U.S. dollar bonds. The blue dollar has climbed by AR$599 since the start of the year; it closed in 2022 at AR$346.

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