The New (Old) Argentine Crisis: A Glossary of Stocks, Blue Dollars, Caves and Little Trees

Argentina has had a bad run lately, as the corrupt policies of Kirchnersim seem to have finally run the economy into the ground. A decade of mis-management, nationalistic policies and plain old-fashioned lying about statistics have recently re-plunged the nation into one of its periodic (and all-too predictable to Argentines) economic crises.

APTOPIX Argentina Economy.JPEG-059cc

Spain’s El Pais posted a glossary of the key terms in this latest crisis. So for the benefit if my non-Spanish readers, here are the highlights.

Blue Dollars: This is the (semi) official term for black-market dollars. When the blue-green dollar rate reached 10, a blue dollar was also known as a Messi; that term is now out of favor since the rate has reached as high as 13.

Caves: These are locations, typically small storefronts, where one can buy blues. Typically, a customer calls ahead to verify the exchange rate (posted on several web sites) and then makes the exchange in person at a small shop window. Often the transaction is made in silence via a small piece of paper, with no words  spoken so nearby patrons stay ignorant of any amount involved.

Reserves: When the Kirchner government started the stock in the fall of 2011, it has almost $48B in central bank reserves. Today that number is down to $29B and decreasing.

Inflation: This is the word that must not be spoken. According to official Argentine government economists, inflation is running at a little over 10%, but the average Argentine believes it is closer to 25% per year and getting worse.

Little Trees: These are individual money exchangers who line Buenos Aires’ Avenida Florida and its side streets to provide a much-needed service under the watchful eye of Argentine officials.

Stock: This is a reference not to equities but to the the torture device favorited in the 19th centuria and refers to the dollar-purchase controls imposed by the government in October of 2011.

Argentina is a nation which I have visited many times, and, as always, my condolences go out to a wonderful people who consistently elect into power some of the worst politicians ever invented (and I use that term precisely).

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Carlos Alvarenga

Founder and CEO at KatalystNet and Adjunct Professor in the Logistics, Business and Public Policy Department at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Smith School of Business.

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