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The relationship that Argentina built with the dollar over almost 90 years, although it is not the only country with a history marked by high periods of inflation and dependence on external financing, assumes unprecedented features that make foreign currency a device to gauge economic turbulence, stimulate public debate and condition government management over the last decades.
In “El Dólar, history of an Argentine currency (1930-2019)” sociologists Ariel Wilkis and Mariana Luzzi analyze, through rigorous fieldwork, which included more than 120 interviews, the process of popularization of that currency in Argentina.
A.W.: Clearly it is one of the great emerging of this aspect of our society, which is still paradoxical. The foreign exchange market guarantees the privilege of holders of great fortunes in dollars , at home or abroad. And the political, cultural and economic centrality of the dollar clashes with any development and inclusion project. “Disarming” that centrality is a goal for any such project. But we must learn from the recent past and from the failure of attempts based exclusively on monetary policies. To disarm the centrality of the dollar, we must go beyond sectoral policies. And think about actions on several fronts and with a long-term perspective.
Mariana Luzzi: The history of the popularization of the dollar is also the story of the expansion of social groups that incorporate the dollar as part of their financial repertoire. As we know, it's not just about big players in the market. Housewives, retirees, middle-income wage-earners often save, when they can, in dollars. They do it because they learned it over time and crises. And also because it's relatively straightforward. It is enough to go to a exchange house to buy tickets, it is not even necessary to have a bank account. That this is such a widespread practice undoubtedly adds complexity when it comes to thinking about economic policies. But it doesn't make it impossible.
Ariel Wilkis: The popularization of the dollar is the cursed fact of democratic Argentina. In 2015, the Government had built a campaign to recognize the right of individuals to acquire dollars freely. The stocks were part of a distortion of individual freedoms. Part of its supportive electorate had flagged one of the legacies of the 2001 crisis. Possession of dollars as a fundamental right of citizens. The popularization of the dollar was devoured to the Government, which ended up being assessed for its ability to control the dollar.
Publication Date: 05/09/2019
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