Argentina’s economy continued its descent on Wednesday following a shocking loss at the polls for President Mauricio Macri, which triggered the worst financial panic in the country since 1950—and the most significant increase in the price of Bitcoin in Argentina's history.
As of midweek, Bitcoin continues to be traded a premium on local exchanges against the Argentine peso (ARS), with prices remaining close to 600,000 pesos per 1 BTC, following a massive devaluation of Argentina’s currency. That price is still 100,000 pesos more per bitcoin than at any time before Sunday’s election.
While Argentina’s stock market has ceased its free fall, it remains at yearly lows, and traders on local Bitcoin exchanges continue to pay upwards of a $1,000 premium for BTC on LocalBitcoins and other informal peer-to-peer trading groups.
But as strongly as the local financial markets have reacted, Argentina’s politicians have perhaps topped it: After essentially blaming the Argentine people for driving the panic, President Macri apologized and announced a “package” of economic measures to shore up public support. Macri froze prices, increased wages, lowered taxes and asked for a meeting with the opposition party.
The move appears to have backfired, however, as public criticism continues to mount—while also seemingly galvanizing local crypto traders and hodlers. Even though the crypto market in Argentina does not have strong liquidity, citizens appear to be searching for ways to preserve their wealth. And Bitcoin continues to flourish as one of the more practical alternatives.
Although BTC remains bearish across global markets, hovering around $10,200 at today’s prices, Argentines are trading Bitcoin at between $11,500 and $11,700 on LocalBitcoins. It’s Argentina’s version of the “kimchi premium”— though caused by entirely different reasons.
Argentina’s economy currently shows no signs of rapid improvement, but as the stock market begins to stablize, it appears that Argentines are adapting to this new normal.