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ECONOMY | 24-11-2023 22:06

Argentina dollarisation is medium-term goal, Luis Caputo tells bankers

Luis Caputo, who is leading Javier Milei’s economic team during the transition, tells banking executives in Buenos Aires that currency controls won't be lifted immediately and that dollarisation is a medium-term goal.

The government of Javier Milei won’t lift currency controls immediately after taking office on December 10, while keeping dollarisation as a medium-term goal for Argentina, a key member of the president-elect’s team told bankers Friday, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

Luis Caputo, who is leading Milei’s economic team during the transition, told banking executives in Buenos Aires the new government’s focus will be reaching a fiscal surplus in 2024, the people said, asking not to be named discussing private conversations. The meeting, which the Wall Street veteran used to introduce the main lines of Milei’s economic plan, included about 30 people between advisers and bank officials, they added.

Caputo also outlined Milei’s strategy for the notes issued by the Central Bank known as Leliqs, used to absorb pesos from the economy, saying the new government will try to unwind them through a voluntary swap that will not include mandatory measures, according to the same people. Argentina lenders are currently shying away Leliqs from their balance sheet after the president-elect called them “a problem” without giving details on his plans for the instruments. 

A spokesperson for Milei declined to comment. 

Caputo’s comments seem to confirm Milei’s is pivoting away from advisers advocating for his most dramatic campaign promises, including ditching the peso and shutting down the Central Bank. Milei distanced himself from his dollarisation guru, Emilio Ocampo, and on Friday another hawkish adviser from early in the campaign, Carlos Rodríguez, announced on X he would also not be part of the government. Investors, who welcomed Milei’s win in the November 19 presidential election, have continued to push Argentina assets higher as the president-elect shows signs of moderation.

A spokesman for Argentina’s banking chamber ABEBA told Bloomberg News the meeting was “very positive” and provided a “market-friendly approach to Central Bank debt.”

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