Government raises official dollar rate to AR$353, returns to ‘crawling peg’

It is the first increase since the post-primaries devaluation fixed it at AR$350

Argentina is experiencing an economic crisis and devaluation. Argentines look for a refuge in the dollar for their savings.

The government moved the official exchange rate on Wednesday for the first time since August 13, when the value was fixed at AR$350 with a 22% currency devaluation. The administration also returned to a crawling peg regime — a gradual depreciation of the peso more or less in line with inflation — which it had dropped at the time.

The decisions mean that the currency will depreciate by 3% monthly as of Wednesday, starting at AR$353 (three pesos more than on Tuesday).

Economic Policy Secretary Gabriel Rubinstein said in October that the government would return to the crawling peg on November 15 following negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In 2018, former president Mauricio Macri signed a loan of US$44 billion, the biggest in the IMF’s history at the time. The debt was renegotiated under President Alberto Fernández’s office, which reached an Extended Fund Facility program with the lender. This includes an economic program that Argentina must comply with to receive disbursements every three months, which the government uses to pay the previous debt.

Since the day after the primaries, when the government devalued the peso, Economy Minister Sergio Massa consistently said the measure was an “imposition” from the lender.

In its latest Market Expectations Survey (REM, by its Spanish initials) the Central Bank said that consultants expect the official exchange rate to be at AR$526.4 in December — much more than the monthly 3% promised by the government.

After increasing to AR$925 on Monday, the informal, or “blue dollar” remained stable. When markets closed on Wednesday, the blue-chip swap rate had fallen slightly to AR$876 (-0.3%) and the MEP dollar rose by 2.6% to AR$870. According to the Ecolatina consulting firm, the average exchange rate gap is still slightly above 150%.

The Central Bank bought US dollars for the 16th day in a row, amid an acute international reserver scarcity crisis. So far this month, it has purchased slightly over US$166 million.

Ecolatina also noted that the future dollar fell by 2.7% in the Matba-Rofex market. The implied monthly devaluation in the future contracts is 7% in November, 68% in December and 15% in January.


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