Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Getting Change Still a Problem
Yesterday Reuters published an article detailing the ongoing problems with change in Argentina. This is another topic I have tackled before, but little has changed in the past six months. The article details the ongoing battle between consumers and businesses to relinquish coins, along with the daily frustration caused by the "No Hay Monedas" ("No Coins") signs that litter kiosks and ticket windows in Buenos Aires.
While many of these situations have been cataloged in everything from the local newspapers to expat blogs, the Reuters article does cover a little bit of new ground. Apparently the change shortage has created a new market, prompting people and businesses to actually sell coins for a profit. Even local bus lines, who only accept fares in coins, have started selling change back to local businesses.
Not surprisingly, the government has taken the position that no shortage exists. They claim that 4.5 billion coins are in circulation, including 250 million new coins added this year. Those numbers are in line with neighboring countries, which means that either the government is fudging the numbers (entirely possible) or some Argentines are hoarding coins (definitely).
Regardless of the cause, few people in Argentina would deny that the change situation continues to be a major hassle and makes many day-to-day activities unnecessarily difficult and time-consuming. Oddly enough, the article makes no mention of the amusing (yet annoyingly frequent) situation of change-starved kiosks giving back change in candy rather than coins. Anytime the barter system is revived to combat monetary problems, the situation can not be too pleasant for everyone involved.