Roaring inflation: Argentine “double zero” peso bills are “legal tender”
An issue of Argentine 100 Pesos bills printed in Brazil and in circulation in Buenos Aires was discovered to be missing the “1” which left them with only the double 00.
The discovery was reported by Clarin and picked up by the rest of the media and allegedly the Argentine currency printing house was aware of the error but even so as soon as the crates with the bills arrived from Brazil, allowed their circulation.
The 100 Pesos bill is the highest denomination of Argentine paper money and with inflation running at an annualized ‘in the range of 25%’ it is not surprising the urgency to have the bills in the streets.
The error in the bills emerged from the fact they were wrongly clipped on one side, cutting off the centennial and leaving the zeroes.
Argentine authorities admitted the mistake but said the number of bills in circulation was “irrelevant”. Off the record they admitted the need for paper money since at mid year all dependent workers in Argentina are paid a mid year bonus equivalent to half a month’s salary.
Workers at the Argentine currency printing house have been in conflict for several weeks interrupting production of bills and thus forcing the Central bank to have them printed in Brazil.
The bills were also printed before the agreement of the Argentine government with the local Ciccone currency printing house which is also involved in a serious controversy because of alleged influence peddling from Vice President Amado Boudou to help the company operate in spite of being under administration.
According to the Argentine media Vicente Glorioso head of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Currency printing house staff union the “quality of the Brazilian paper currency is questionable and they certainly did not go through the quality control filter”.
Although this was apparently a contained incident, the Argentine currency printing house in the past has been involved in several serious situations, probably the most notorious back in 1989/1990 when the collapse of the administration of Ricardo Alfonsin which forced anticipated elections and Carlos Menem taking office half a year earlier.
Those were times of hyper-inflation in Argentina and the union’s chapter at the currency printing house would turn on the “printing machine” a couple of hours a day repeating serial numeration, for their own profit.
The “partners in printing-currency crime” were discovered and sent to jail and the bills quietly eliminated although a couple of years later “twin bills” could still be found but more valuable than originally because of demand form for private collections.