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Dollarization: the mattress was a bad deal in February

2024-03-02T16:24:07.545Z

Highlights: Dollarization: the mattress was a bad deal in February. The price of the US currency lost against other prices and there were more sales than purchases. Families and companies that had dollarized in the last part of 2023 saw at the beginning of the year how those dollars that they kept as coverage lost value compared to an inflation that galloped in the first two months at a rate greater than 35%. In recent weeks there have been inquiries to “bring” dollars to Argentina, although he dismissed it as a fundamental change in trend.


The price of the US currency lost against other prices and there were more sales than purchases. But in the City they don't see it as a trend.


The almost 14% drop in the financial dollar last month shows that in February the dynamics in the exchange market completely changed: savers and companies

stopped demanding dollars and began to sell them

, in a place where the pesos “dried up.” ” as a product of the monetary policy established by the Minister of Economy Luis Caputo and the president of the Central Bank, Santiago Bausili, since mid-December.

Unlike

the rest of the prices in the economy

– which, although their rise slowed,

continued to rise

–, the parallel dollar

was one of the few prices that deflated

.

On the street,

the blue also lost 13.8% to end February at $1,030 (and

$1,050 on Friday

),

almost the same value it had at the beginning of the year

.

Families and companies that had dollarized in the last part of 2023

saw at the beginning of the year how those dollars that they kept as coverage

lost value

compared to an inflation that galloped in the first two months at a rate greater than 35%, according to the projection of the main consulting firms in the City.

Both big players and small savers turned to selling part of those dollars, in a context where the peso was strengthened.

“The peso market dried up a bit for several reasons.

A little due to the need of the middle class to cover some expenses, which became complicated and, well, they have to sell some tickets to be able to move forward," explained an experienced Cuevero from the City to this newspaper, who pointed out that these sales by savers They fail to explain the collapse of parallel quotes and the exchange gap.

“The big hands,

the importers

who hedged with bills ,

switched to Bopreal

, the bond that the Central Bank created to settle the debt with that sector, and they also prioritized access to the official dollar, as the opening of the MULC went away. normalizing,” he added.

During January, the first signs appeared in the official market of what was later seen strongly in the parallel last month.

According to the latest monthly exchange report prepared by the BCRA, in January the number of people who turned to selling dollars in the official segment had increased.

The official report reported that in the first month of the year, net purchases of the “savings dollar” in the formal market totaled US$2 million, an unusually low number for this segment.

This number occurred because US$20 million were purchased, but another US$18 million were sold, an unprecedented result in recent years.

And another striking fact: there were 43.5% more sellers than buyers of dollars in the banks.

During February, although official data is not yet available, everything indicates that this

worsened

, with a strong impact on parallel contributions.

Mariano Sardans, CEO of the wealth manager

FDI

, stated that in recent weeks

there have been inquiries to “bring” dollars to Argentina,

although he dismissed it as a fundamental change in trend.

“We saw queries from some clients who need those dollars to buy a field, make renovations to their plants... however, we still see greater interest from investors and savers in “leaving” Argentina than in de-dollarizing,” he said. .

For Sardans, what is happening is the effect of monetary policy: “What we are seeing is that people from some sectors such as freelancers or real estate brokers, who earn in foreign currency, sell those dollars to pay their current expenses.

What happens is that with inflation at very high levels and the dollar standing still or falling,

these people must sell more and more dollars to be able to cover the same expenses.”

In this way,

the savings under the mattress are devalued against the peso

.

This seems to be a turning point in the dynamics seen in recent months.

Pablo Repetto, of

Aurum Valores,

stated: “During the first weeks of the Milei government, demand in dollars increased strongly.

In those first days of the new government the exchange gap, which had dropped to 8% after the devaluation, returned to around 50%.

The prices of $1,300 per dollar that financial quotes had in January seemed exaggerated.

And it also looks exaggeratedly under a dollar close to $1,000 right now.”

In the City they warn that several of the factors that drove the appreciation of the peso are “extraordinary and momentary”, and that it is thanks to the tight control of the fiscal account that Caputo established and the changes in monetary policy led by the BCRA.

For Manuel Cerdán, an economist at

Invecq,

this phenomenon is possible because until now the exchange rate remains in force.

“Two factors largely explain the new dynamics of the exchange market: a greater volume of settled exports, which impacts both the Single and Free Exchange Market of the Central Bank (MULC) and the financial markets, since 80% are settled. in the MULC and 20% in cash with liqui," he said and added: "The other factor is that

imports are still unpaid

: in December-January only 20.6% of accrued imports were paid;

In February more was paid, but it will still be a not very high number.”

In January the Central Bank authorized US$1.5 billion of imports,

when the normal level for that month is around US$4.5 billion

.

The market estimates that since Milei took office, the debt for “new” imports is close to US$5 billion.

Jorge Vasconcelos, economist at

IERAL and Fundación Mediterránea,

pointed out: “The reduction of the gap accompanied by a lower monetary expansion means that the transfer to prices of the December devaluation is less than that seen in other moments of exchange rate jump, such as in 2014 or 2016. And it is helped by exporters who continue to settle in cash with liquidation and by repressed imports.

And neither of these two things occur within a healthy macroeconomy.”

For this reason, they warn that the positive trajectory of dollar purchases that the Central Bank has maintained since mid-December could come under pressure, which in turn would mark the days of this exchange summer.

“Since the December devaluation, the exchange rate has appreciated more than 30% in real terms.

Eventually the BCRA is going to have to accelerate the pace of the crawling-peg or make another discreet and more risky adjustment,” Cerdan said.

“If not, by May/June it could return to November levels.

If the strategy is not modified, the exchange rate pressure will increase.”

Source: clarin

All business articles on 2024-03-02

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