Argentina: Government authorizes currency controls after peso plunges
September 1, 2019
On 1 September, the Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) set a number of restrictions on dollar purchases, in a bid to stabilize the exchange rate and combat financial turmoil following the crisis of confidence triggered by August’s primary elections.
Exporters are now obligated to repatriate hard currency from foreign sales and a maximum of USD 10,000 has been set for individual dollar purchases, as well as for bank transfers abroad. Additionally, non-residents can only buy up to USD 1,000 a month and they are forbidden to make bank transfers abroad, while banks and companies will need authorization to purchase hard currency. Combined, these measures should help limit any potential depreciation in the peso, restore calm to the markets and thus stabilize the economy.
Argentina’s currency and stock exchange slumped following the primary elections on 11 August, due to the unexpectedly large victory of Macri’s rival, Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández, as investors interpreted the results as a reliable barometer for general elections scheduled for 27 October. Although the peso recovered some lost ground after the measures were announced by the Central Bank on 1 September, the gap between official and black-market FX widened notably. Looking ahead, while the measures ought to contain capital flight and the depletion of foreign reserves in the short-term, the restrictions risk fueling a parallel market for the USD, which would hit investment activity further.