Argentine official criticizes dollar savings and defends the “exchange rate trap”

Key facts:
  • Cecilia Todesca says that saving in dollars is a behavior that must be modified.

  • According to the official, the dollars should go to production and not to individual savings.

“I am a defender of the trap, not because I am crazy, but because you have to understand well how the dynamics of dollars are,” says the Argentine deputy chief of Staff, Cecilia Todesca. “stocks” refers to the restrictions on the purchase of foreign currencies that apply in the South American country.

The economist recognizes that saving in foreign currency on the part of individuals in his country it is because “in recent decades, the peso has been losing value”. Anyway, she assures that that behavior must be modified.

«[El ahorro en dólares] it’s strangling us in the external sector. This is a dog that bites its tail,” Todesca explains. His words were spoken within the framework of what he called a “federal interview” and which was covered by several local graphic media.

In this context, the Peronist leader said:”the dollars that we all produce must be applied, in the first instance, to production, to the generation of investment and employment.” “We have to understand that we need all those dollars to produce and develop,” he added, and promised, without explaining the meaning of his words, that “the guarantee of stable growth is that we are all inside.”

To avoid misinterpretations, Todesca noted that ,despite his sayings, ” no one committed any crime by buying dollars, nor is he unpatriotic.”

The request of the official so that his compatriots change saving habits it occurs when the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) is under pressure regarding its monetary reserves, due to the need to face numerous external and internal obligations.

Words similar to those of Todesca had uttered the President of the Nation, Alberto Fernándezin September of last year. “Dollars are needed to produce, not to save,” the president said at the time.

With dollar restrictions, Argentines turn to bitcoin as a reserve of value

The “exchange rate trap”, which has been in force in Argentina since 2019, establishes that each individual can purchase up to a maximum of USD 200 per month (or its equivalent in other foreign currencies). In addition, it prohibits other actions, including the purchase of bitcoin (BTC) or cryptocurrencies with debit or credit cards.

This situation, which is considered by some as an enslavement of individual freedoms, has led many Argentines to find in cryptoassets (which they access through bank transfers to exchanges or on P2P platforms) a way to preserve your heritagein the face of the constant devaluation of the national currency.

Already in the middle of last year, when the country’s economy was in recession, among other reasons, due to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Crypto news reported that Argentines were “buying more bitcoin than ever”.

Indeed, according to the statistical information provided by the P2P platform LocalBitcoins, at that time there was a peak of BTC purchases in Argentina. Although interest may have then waned, according to the information presented by that company, the emergence of other peer-to-peer exchanges, for example Binance and OKEx, which took a significant share of the market, should also be considered.

According to a study that consulting firm Wunderman Thompson published in February 2021, 66% of Argentines acquire cryptocurrencies it does it to protect your savings. Other reasons are being in line with technological trends (23%), making low-cost transfers (27%) or diversifying an investment portfolio (32%).

Most Argentines who invest in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies do so with the primary goal of protecting their savings. Source: Wunderman Thompson.

Local interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is also evident in the growth of virtual communities around them. An example is the Facebook group Bitcoin Argentina that, as reported by this media, had 62 thousand members in January of this year. At the time of writing this article, six months later, the number of members is 74.600.

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