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Economía y Finanzas  
 
21/05/2014 | The Argentine peso - End of the pax cambiaria?

The Economist Staff

ASK an Argentine economist to sum up their government’s economic strategy in one word and parchando, or “patching things up”, is likely to be their answer. Instead of attacking its most formidable problems, the Argentine government focuses on banishing their symptoms.

 

In January, after high inflation and foreign-exchange interventions left the peso insupportably overvalued, the Argentine government was forced to devalue by 20%. To mute the associated inflationary spike, Argentina’s Central Bank (BCRA) hiked interest rates and sucked billions of dollars of pesos out of circulation. And to further close the gap between the official and unofficial exchange rates, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also relaxed some of the currency controls she had introduced in 2011 to stem capital flight.

In February the peso strengthened slightly to 7.8 to the dollar, before weakening to 8. There it has remained since the end of March, causing economists to dub the intervening period the “pax cambiaria” (the currency peace). But the patches have begun to fray again. In the past few days Carlos Fábrega, the head of the BCRA, has allowed the peso to start weakening, by about 0.5%. That might not seem like a lot, but the peso was eight times more volatile last week than it was during all of April.

The pressure on the peso has been building for a while. In an attempt to invigorate Argentina’s anaemic economy, Mr Fábrega has been reducing interest rates again, from 28.9% in March to 26.9%, a rate far below inflation. “Inflation has eaten up almost all of the competitiveness created by devaluing,” says Miguel Kiguel, the director of EconViews, a consultancy. He expects inflation to reach 38% this year, up from about 28% last year. “Sustaining a fixed exchange rate became impossible.” Another factor is the country’s foreign-exchange reserves. Although an abundant soy harvest allowed the BCRA to increase reserves in April, the going has been tougher in May and reserves have stagnated at $28.3 billion.

Combine inflationary expectations, stagnant reserves and the latest untethering of the exchange rate, and Argentines are understandably spooked by the recent decline. The parallel exchange rate, which serves as a proxy for confidence in the peso, has plunged since the official rate began depreciating. It has fallen from 10.7 to the dollar on May 12th to 11.7 on May 20th. Should this trend in the parallel market continue, it will put even more pressure on reserves as farmers wait to sell their harvests in anticipation of a devaluation.

What the government intends to do over the coming months is unclear. It could devalue a little bit each month, to the order of 2%, patching up the loss of competitiveness from inflation with a compensating fall in the exchange rate. Or it could try once again to hold the peso steady, as an anchor against inflation. Either way, a more dramatic downward lurch is expected eventually. “Sooner or later the government is going to have to devalue again,” says Tomas Bulat, an economist who runs his own consultancy. “They’ll probably devalue little by little until around December or January, when the fiscal deficit and monetary emission grow a lot, and then we’ll see another devaluation like this year’s.”

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 



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04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House