Inside, the lights are still on and someone counts money. But the exchange office is already closed, when I arrive in Argentina. What do I do now, without an Argentine Peso in my pockets?
Come over here for changing money!
the waitress of a café shouts on the other side of the street.
Another waitress leads me through the expensively furnished room to the cash register in the back. There a 3rd waitress tells me the rate: $7,2 Pesos per $1 USD.
Here, besides cakes and the espresso machine, you can find the Argentine black market for US Dollar!?
$31 US Dollar are $155 Argentine Pesos in the bank, but $224 Argentine Pesos on the black market.
In 2001, $31 US Dollar were equal to $31 Argentine Pesos...
The rate is 44% better than the official rate of $5 Pesos per $1 USD at the ATM. Good, that I stocked up on cash for my flying visit to Argentina. I thank her and she tells me to come back soon and they also gladly sell $9 Pesos per €1 EUR und $15 Pesos per $1.000 Chilean Pesos.
I certainly wouldn’t have looked for the infamous foreign currency black market in a posh café. But all Argentineans need foreign currencies, because they are not allowed to buy them anymore. The state has tightened the requirements for buying them. And because of the summer vacation, the rate is as high as never before.
But travelling is not the only thing, the Argentineans need the foreign money for. Because of inflation, the Peso loses about 25% of its value each year. Since 2002, the Peso has lost 86% of its value. And the Peso is already the 5th Argentine currency since 1969. All previous currencies collapsed through hyperinflation, last in 1992 and probably again soon.
official rate and "Blue Dollar" black market rate for one US Dollar - source: www.dolarblue.net
That is exactly, what the government wants to prevent with the strict requirements. What’s devestating for Argentineans is a boon for foreign travellers. With capital flight and inflation, travelling in Argentina is much cheaper than in Chile, if you bring Dollars.
“Talking about the parallel dollar price is an illegal act.”
(Argentina’s Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo, 2012)
If you’re going to Argentina, be sure to bring foreign currencies. The rate at the ATM sucks. Alternatively, you can try xoom.com or Bitcoins, more infos at dgcmagazine.com.