In Argentina, Javier Milei, the ultra-liberal candidate for the presidential election, compares the peso to « excrement » and triggers a currency crisis.

In which currency is it relevant to manage one’s savings? The question asked by Radio Mitre to the ultraliberal candidate Javier Milei on Monday, October 9, marked the beginning of a currency panic and a small political storm. « Never in pesos, never in pesos! (…) It has less value than excrement, this waste doesn’t even serve to make fertilizer, » retorted the favorite of the presidential election on October 22, in the colorful language he is known for.

In addition, the national currency has plummeted. On the parallel market, it has surpassed the symbolic threshold of 1 dollar for 1,000 pesos, compared to 880 pesos previously. The official exchange market (1 dollar for 365 pesos at the same time) remains controlled by the State through a series of mechanisms. A devaluation of around 18% had already been initiated in mid-August. However, the parallel market is closely monitored as it serves as a thermometer and a space for exchange for the majority of economic actors, especially savers.

Many of them were convinced, after these statements, to withdraw their pesos from their bank accounts – sometimes hoarded in a savings account with interest – to exchange them for dollars. On October 10, amidst currency nervousness, Ramiro Marra, a prominent figure in the ultraliberal coalition La Libertad Avanza (« freedom advances ») and candidate for the position of chief of government of the city of Buenos Aires, insisted in a message published on X (formerly Twitter): « Today more than ever: do not save in pesos. Take care of your money, it has been hard to earn. »

Une statue du candidat à la présidentielle argentine Javier Milei, tenant une tronçonneuse sur laquelle on peut lire en espagnol « Vive la liberté ! », à l’aéroport de Salta, en Argentine, le jeudi 12 octobre 2023.

Une enquête ouverte

Le président Alberto Fernandez (centre gauche), qui n’est pas candidat à sa réélection et reste très effacé politiquement, a déposé une plainte contre Javier Milei, le 11 octobre, pour « intimidation publique » dans le but de « susciter la peur publique ». La plainte concerne aussi Ramiro Marra. Une enquête a été ouverte.

The day before, four Argentine banking associations had indirectly criticized Javier Milei’s statements. The statement argued that « a strong democracy requires solid institutions and mature and responsible political leaders. » The text from the banking entities continued, stating that « candidates should avoid making unfounded statements that cause uncertainty among the population and volatility in financial variables. »

Javier Milei a contre-attaqué, lors d’une conférence de presse, le 11 octobre. Il a refusé d’assumer toute responsabilité dans la dévaluation du peso. « Est-ce moi qui suis responsable du déficit budgétaire ? De l’émission monétaire ? De la dette ? », a-t-il déclaré, en énumérant différents phénomènes participant à la dévaluation et l’inflation. Cette dernière s’élève à 138 % sur un an, l’un des taux les plus élevés du monde.

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