Argentinien: Freigabe des Pesos keine dauerhafte Lösung. DIW Berlin empfiehlt Wechselkurssystem mit Bandbreiten

Press Release of March 20, 2002

By allowing the peso to float freely at the beginning of this year, Argentina fundamentally changed its monetary policy. For the previous eleven years, the peso had been pegged to the US-Dollar by a currency board. In its current weekly report 12/2002, the DIW Berlin warns against this strategy. It also does not consider the free floatation of the peso to be a workable solution. The DIW instead suggests that a middle course: an exchange rate system, whic allows the exchange rate to fluctuate within a certain band similar to the former European Monetary System (EMS). On the one hand, this measure would contribute to a stable monetary policy. On the other hand, it would allow the central bank to devalue the peso in times of crisis and of considerable structural upheaval or to reduce the pressure on the peso through joint interventions. Argentina should co-operate with Brazil and the other Mercosur countries, with whose national economies it has extremely close trade relations and with whom Argentina could reach a credible agreement on price stability.
Pegged the peso to the US dollar led to a deep economic crisis in Argentina. Although hyper inflation was successfully combated at the beginning of the 1990s, economic policy did not have the necessary room for manoeuvre to stop the deflationary trend triggered by the fixed exchange rate. When the US-dollar appreciated markedly in the mid 1990s, this trend worsened and Argentina - accompanied by steadily increasing foreign debts - went into depression. The floatation of the peso led to the necessary drastic devaluation of the currency. Within a very short period, the peso fell by 40%. Although this may have a positive effect on the Argentinean exports, it in no way solves Argentina's problems. Despite the fact that Argentina has relinquished its foreign stability anchor, it only runs a slight risk of losing credibility with regard to combating inflation, as deflation remains to be dealt with. A moderate acceleration of inflationary expectations could even stabilise the economy. However, it will be much more difficult to reduce the foreign debt burden, which has been greatly increased by the devaluation of the peso. It is questionable as to whether the Argentinean economy can meet the increased interests rates on its foreign debt caused by the devaluation. Rather, it is to be expected that international funding will be required.