This Associated Press story reminds me of the specie panic during the U.S. Civil War. Coins disappeared, and people had to scramble to make change for ordinary transactions. Nearly a century and a half later a similar story is unfolding, this time in Argentina. -EditorA kiosk owner bribes a bank worker with cookies to break bills. Subway workers let commuters ride free because they can't change their cash. Bus companies resell the coins they collect at a steep black market markup.
Argentines are increasingly scrambling to get their hands on pocket change for everyday transactions, as soaring inflation makes the copper and aluminum that coins are made of worth more than their face value. Many suspect profit-seeking hoarders are scooping them up to stow away.
Argentine annual inflation officially hit 8.7 per cent in September, but independent economists say the government is lowballing that rate, which they claim is closer to 25 per cent.
One peso . worth about 31 cents U.S. . now buys so little that it makes more sense to melt down its metal than to save the 20 pesos it would take to buy an average box of chocolates, said economist Diego Giacomini, a consultant at Economia & Regiones in Buenos Aires.
An anonymous central bank hot line has meanwhile received 5,000 complaints about black market coin sales since it opened in February, according to the bank.
Each 50 cent coin contains about 5.3 grams of copper and 0.5 grams of aluminum, together worth about a sixth of the coin's monetary value. But inflation is rising so fast that in a few years, the coins will be worth less than the metal they are made of.
To read the complete article, see: In Argentina, inflation sparks scramble for coins (http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story
Wayne Homren, Editor
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