“I buy coins, I pay triple what you have”: one more evidence of the low value of the peso

Digital platforms for selling and buying objects include the most dissimilar products. And it is increasingly common to find those who offer to buy coins. But it is not a business of collectors or fans of numismatics, who are looking for old coins, but those who buy current coins, in circulation, for an obvious reason: their value as a metal is higher than what can be bought with them. .

“I buy unused coins of 25 and 50 cents … I pay triple what you have in silver. I also buy the old 1 peso one, the one from the sun, I pay double. From 2 pesos the payment is 50% ”, explains a Mercado Libre user based in the south of the suburbs. Why would someone pay 1 and a half pesos for a 50 cent coin? Because those coins, minted in an alloy of copper and nickel, will end up in a metal reducer that will pay for them even more.

Inflation made the cost of minting, transporting and storing them much higher than their face value, and there are very few things that can be bought with coins in everyday life. Bimetallic 1 and 2 peso coins (gold center and silver ring for 1 peso coins, conversely for 2 peso coins), became a favorite target for metal reducers. To prevent them from falling into those hands, as explained in the banks’ treasuries, they practically stopped being distributed by Banco Cental, even though there are still stocks of both.

Although, as in the case of banknotes, destroying or altering the coins is punishable by the Penal Code, the Central Bank interprets that “the destruction or melting of public currency is not a crime” since “the holder of the banknotes that cuts them or makes them useless only damages himself ”. Having made this clarification, the coins differ from the bills, which once expired by inflation are withdrawn from circulation and “demonetized”, as happened last year with the 5-peso bill with the image of General San Martín. All currencies, on the other hand, continue to retain their cancellation power as money, even the 1 cent coins that have not been seen in the pockets of Argentines for many years.

Free Market Coins

While for metal reducers currencies have become a source of business, for banks they are a problem. “They are of little use and moving them costs a lot”, they explain in a treasury of a financial institution. Minting the coins that circulate in Argentina is, in all cases, more expensive than the value they represent, including the most recent line, the line “Trees” of 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos, which are not copper but steel, lighter and less valuable. When they were launched in 2018, the change of material was foreseen so that the value of the metal was not higher than the “face value”. Almost three years later, inflation carried that intention away.

Some time ago, a user of the social network Tik Tok managed to viralize a video that he recorded while taking a drawer full of coins to a metal foundry. “Now we are going to show him what the Argentine peso is worth,” he quipped. “We had 17.5 kilos, they pay 500 pesos per kilo, we have a total of 8,750 pesos,” he said, after adding that “in a little while” he had managed to get 120% of the yield when his coins stopped being pesos and were transformed into pieces of metal.

“I buy coins by the kg !! Copper and nickel, current and old, at $ 400 per kg. Shipping cost borne by the seller. Only operations greater than 10 kg are carried out, ”says another offer from Paraná, Entre Ríos. In Mercado Libre and other platforms, offers of this kind abound, which shows that there is a growing market. Those who want to sell coins, sometimes.

The banks explain that, unlike other times of scarcity (such as in the years prior to the SUBE card, where they were needed to travel by bus), there are spare coins and the BCRA delivers the entire amount they ask for. The problem is that nobody asks for them. In fact, the number of new coins brought into circulation in the last year was very limited. In the case of the 1 peso, the stock grew only 4 percent.

“We ask the Central Bank for the bare minimum, because a branch cannot function without a minimum of coins to make some payments, such as pensions. That is why public banks need more, because they pay more to retirees and social plans. But they are still a problem: moving them is expensive and takes away resources for the transport of banknotes, which is what is truly indispensable, “they explained to Infobae in a private bank of national scope.

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