Inflation, currency substitution and dollarization: The case of Argentina

Eugenio J Aleman, Florida International University


This dissertation discusses the relationship between inflation, currency substitution and dollarization that has taken place in Argentina for the past several decades.^ First, it is shown that when consumers are able to hold only domestic monetary balances (without capital mobility) an increase in the rate of inflation will produce a balance of payments deficit. We then look at the same issue but with heterogeneous consumers, this heterogeneity being generated by non-proportional lump-sum transfers.^ Second, we discussed some necessary assumptions related to currency substitution models and concluded that there was no a-priori conclusion on whether currencies should be assumed to be "cooperant" or "non-cooperant" in utility. That is to say, whether individuals held different currencies together or one instead of the other.^ Third, we went into discussing the issue of currency substitution as being a constraint on governments' inflationary objectives rather than a choice of those governments to avoid hyperinflations. We showed that imperfect substitutability between currencies does not "reduce the scope for rational (hyper)inflationary processes" as it had been previously argued. It will ultimately depend on the parametrization used and not on the intrinsic characteristics of imperfect substitutability between currencies.^ We further showed that in Argentina, individuals have been able to endogenize the money supply by holding foreign monetary balances. We argued that the decision to hold foreign monetary balances by individuals is always a second best due to the trade-off between holding foreign monetary balances and consumption. For some levels of income, consumption, and foreign inflation, individuals would prefer to hold domestic monetary balances rather than foreign ones.^ We then modeled the distinction between dollarization and currency substitution. We concluded that although dollarization is necessary for currency substitution to take place, the decision to use foreign monetary balances for transactions purposes is largely independent from the dollarization process.^ Finally, we concluded that Argentina should not fully dollarize its economy because dollarization is always a second best to using a domestic currency. Further, we argued that a fixed exchange system would be better than a flexible exchange rate or a "crawling-peg" system because of the characteristics of the political system and the possibilities of "mass praetorianism" to develop, which is intricately linked to "populist" solutions. ^

Subject Area

History, Latin American|Economics, General|Economics, Finance

Recommended Citation

Aleman, Eugenio J, "Inflation, currency substitution and dollarization: The case of Argentina" (1995). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9543492.