Dollarize Argentina: Abolish the BCRA
Also published in Studies in Applied Economics Wed. November 1, 2023
AbstractOver many decades the stability and value of the Argentine peso has been repeatedly undermined by successive governments in Buenos Aires who have relied on the monetary powers of the Argentine central bank to fund budget deficits. This has led to persistently rapid broad money growth, high inflation, and a chronically weak currency. To end the abuse of the central bank we propose abolishing the BCRA and dollarizing the economy. In 1999, at the invitation of Pres. Carlos Menem, Steve H. Hanke and Kurt Schuler first proposed that the Argentine economy be dollarized. The first thing to do is to establish a market exchange by ending capital/exchange controls and allowing the currency to float freely for a month before locking into a fixed exchange rate. After Dollarization-Day, all peso- denominated assets, liabilities, and contracts would be replaced with USD at a fixed rate, and outstanding peso banknote issues would be exchanged for USD banknotes over a period of 6-9 months. To deal with any shortage of coins, the government would mint new USD-denominated coins with Argentine symbology to replace worthless peso coins, the new coins to be backed 1:1 with US$ paid for by the banks when they order cash for their customers. The important short-term money market in peso-denominated LELIQs would be replaced with US$-denominated government securities to be issued and redeemed by a new, independent office for Argentine government debtalong the lines of the British DMO. Under this plan, inflation and interest rates could be expected to fall rapidly. There is nothing special about the Argentine case that prevents dollarization, only lack of knowledge of the correct procedures and the political authority to implement them.
Francisco Zalles is an adjunct scholar of the Ecuadorian Institute for Political Economy, and a past professor of economics. He has frequently participated in various forums on dollarization and money.
EconomyFederal Reserve and Central BankingGlobal FinanceInternational Economics and DevelopmentLatin America
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