It’s hard to get cash during an economic crisis

The line at the last Western Union location allowing transfers.

I’ve been using credit cards for most things since arriving in Argentina, foreign credit cards offer the best possible exchange rate but cash is still useful for a lot of things. The crisis here is accelerating quickly however and getting cash it getting tough. When I arrived here 10 days ago I sold US cash for Argentinian pesos at 390:1, the rate today is 470:1, it’s on the news here pretty constantly and people are stressed. I went to a street fare today, lots of interesting crafts and baking and also about 1/3rd of the booths were by companies offering services to help citizens get their money out of the country or sell their real estate or emigration services.

I can’t get pesos from an ATM as the exchange rate at banks in Argentina is now less than half of the actual exchange rate. I also cannot use the back alley black market money changers as I am out of US cash.

The only option left for cash is a Western Union, I can transfer cash from my bank to WU and then withdraw it here in pesos at the black market rate. Unfortunately the money crisis here has made that easier said than done. There are dozens and dozens of Western Union locations but most don’t have cash currently. I picked up a rumour that Western Union’s main branch is still doing regular cash transfers so I headed there this morning. Apparently the rest of the city heard the same rumour. The branch is huge, probably holds over 100 people inside. There was about 200 additional people in line outside when I showed up. After 90 minutes in line I was within 5 people of the door when they announced they were out of cash for the day. I’ll have to try again first thing Monday morning.

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