How much does it cost to buy a dollar? In Argentina, there are at least a dozen different answers. In times of restrictions and traps, in the last three years the foreign exchange market has been diversifying and today in the market the official dollar coexists with other exchange rates and gaps that exceed 270% between both extremes (blue versus soy).
Without going any further, in the last two weeks two new dollars were created. On the one hand, the card dollar was modified and now has a 45% surcharge on the Earnings account, instead of the 35% that the “savings dollar” continues to pay. On the other hand, the Government came out to promote a new “foreign tourist dollar” with a more competitive rate, with the aim that people who come to the country on vacation do not exchange currency in the informal market.
Also, last Thursday new restrictions were added. The Central Bank (BCRA) determined that those who operate Argentine deposit certificates (Cedears), negotiable obligations and cryptocurrencies will not be able to access the purchase of dollars for savings 90 days before or 90 days after. This limitation is added to the other ten conditions that already existed to be able to buy up to US$200 for hoarding in the bank.
For this reason, in an increasingly limited and regulated market, new alternatives were created. Currently there are types of exchange in informality -such as blue-, to pay the Netflix account -the card-, financial -MEP and cash with settlement (CCL)- and even some almost impossible to access, which earned them the name of “ghost” -savings-. Next the complete list.
official retail dollar
It is the reference exchange rate, it is taken as a base to calculate other market prices. In the early hours of Monday, appears on the screens of Banco Nación at $136 at the selling point, although to access that value taxes must be added. Insteadthe buying point is located at $128, the value at which Argentines and foreigners who sell dollars in financial entities were paid.
official wholesale dollar
It is the reference price in the foreign market, which today it stands at $130.40. While exporters receive that value in exchange, importers can agree to buy dollars for that price. This last point led to the Central Bank at the end of June toughen the conditions of access for importers, in order to “avoid speculative maneuvers.”
Dollar “solidarity” or savings
It was baptized as “solidarity dollar” within the ruling party. It is the one that is bought through the banking startupup to US$200 per month per person, although there are at least eleven conditions that exclude Argentines from the so-called Single Free Exchange Market (MULC). Some of them are not being a co-owner of the bank account, not having received a salary through the ATP or REPRO program, not having refinanced any credit card installment for 12 months, not operating Cedears, among others.
In order to know its price, a 30% PAIS tax must be added to the official retail dollar and another 35% on the Earnings and Personal Assets account. Thus, the result is that today it is exchanged at Banco Nación at $224.40. A clarification: each year, you can request the return of Profits from the AFIP, although it is not adjusted for inflation.
Dollar card or tourist
Two weeks ago, the dollar card had the same price as the “savings”. But the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP) increased the tax burden by ten percentage points for those Argentines who spend their greenbacks outside the country or pay for services abroad from Argentina. For this reason, the values were split.
Now, those who spend dollars with the credit or debit card will have to face, on the official dollar price, a charge of 30% of the PAIS tax and 45% on the Profit account (instead of the 35% that is still in force for buying dollars in the bank). This Monday the value is positioned at $238.
Pay for services transmission of videos or music from foreign providers, such as Netflix, HBO or Spotify, also has its own price. In these cases, an 8% PAIS tax is applied, but 21% VAT and 45% must be paid on Profits account. Therefore, when an Argentine hires a digital service, they have to take into account that a 74% surcharge will appear on the card: This is the “Netflix” dollar, which stands at $236.64.
However, in some provinces the value may be even higher. For example, in the City of Buenos Aires there is also a 1.2% stamp tax (on credit card payments) and another 2% on gross income. In other words, a 77.2% tax burden is added to the official dollar.
foreign tourist dollar
Since the beginning of the year, only 16% of the dollars spent by foreign tourists have been channeled into the formal market, according to government estimates. The rest is channeled into the blue dollar.
As the bi-monetary accounts that the Central Bank (BCRA) wanted to promote last October did not work, now the government decided to redouble the bet and last Thursday created the “foreign tourist” dollar. Instead of paying $128 per dollar, as it was until now, the banks will change to the MEP exchange rate ($315). It is 146% more.
In recent days, the “soybean” dollar has come under the public eye. It transpired that during the weekend the Government could announce a new dollar for the agricultural sector, 40% higher than the current price, to encourage settlements in the field. However, for the moment it did not happen and from the ruling party they deny these versions.
It so happens that today the field receives $98 per dollar. They must settle the wholesale dollar ($130.41), but 33% withholdings must be subtracted from that number. The same is replicated in other sectors.: the dollar corn or wheat has a 12% withholding, so they receive $116 per dollar; Instead, the producers of dairy or wine they pay an export duty of 4.5%, which is why they have an exchange rate of $124.70.
the blue dollar becomes popular among Argentines in times of exchange rate. Bearing in mind that a large part of the population cannot access the MULC, buy US bills informally it becomes an alternative for many. In the first wheel of the week the little trees offer it at $317, although on Friday it reached a peak of $350.
MEP Dollar or Stock Exchange
The MEP dollar (which derives from the acronym “electronic payments market”) allows Argentines to dollarize legally and without exchange traps, through the stock market. I know access through the purchase of bonds that are quoted in pesos (such as the AL30). Then, it is converted to the same bond that is quoted in dollars and, thus, it is sold in foreign currency.
Although the operation seemed more difficult than buying dollars in the cave, in recent years the stock companies took advantage of the stocks to popularize it and today it can even be purchased through a WhatsApp message. This Monday it is trading around $315.
Dollar ‘counted with liquidation’ or Cable
The operation is similar to that of the MEP dollar, although the fundamental difference is that the greenbacks are settled in a bank account outside of Argentina. In this case, shares or debt securities are bought in pesos that are listed in the country and, in turn, in another international market. Subsequently, financial assets are sold against dollars and hard currency is accessed. Currently the cash with liqui is offered at $321.
Through the Bilateral Negotiation Segment (Senebi), two private counterparties agree on the value of the dollar, which today is around $325about three pesos higher than the counted with liquid with AL30 bonds. In this case, a company that has pesos in Argentina and needs dollars abroad looks for a company that has dollars outside the country and needs local currency. No official bodies are involved and, as it is an agreement between private parties, its value does not appear on screens.
Pesos can also be dollarized indirectly through the purchase of Argentine Deposit Certificates, better known as Cedears. They represent shares of the world’s big companies (such as Disney, Apple and Coca-Cola), they are paid in pesos, but are tied to the price of the CCL dollar. The exchange rate varies depending on the company: for example, if Google is taken as a reference, it is located at $324.
An advert. Last week the Central Bank tightened the exchange rate and established that retail savers who operate Cedearsthey will not be able to access the “solidarity” dollar in the 90 days before or after.
There is a dollar that does not sleep, since it trades at all hours, every day of the week. It is the “crypto dollar”, which is accessed through the platforms exchange, and you can buy stable coins (stablecoins) that have a one-to-one parity with the dollar. In the case of acquiring Tether (USDT), one of the most popular assets, today it is achieved at $312.