It was no surprise that the cab driver tried to rip us off. We're in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after all, and we'd made the rookie error of requesting a vague destination instead of giving a precise address—naturally he interpreted this as a license to take us from La Boca to the Plaza de Mayo by way of southern Nicaragua. What we hadn't expected was the predicament the driver found himself in when it came time to pay. The fare had come to 14 pesos and 6 centavos. I proffered a 20-peso note (worth about $6.70), and he handed back 50 centavos, suggesting that I was going to be shorted 44 centavos. Then he realized that continuing on this course would require him to give me two 2-peso notes and a 1-peso coin. He sighed dramatically and gave me three 2-peso notes instead. Factoring in the 50 centavos he had already handed over, this effectively reduced the fare to 13.50 pesos, which, for reasons I'll get to in a moment, is actually more than 14.50 pesos.
Welcome to the world's strangest economic crisis. Argentina in general —and Buenos Aires in particular— is presently in the grip of a moneda, or coin, shortage. Everywhere you look, there are signs reading, "NO HAY MONEDAS." As a result, vendors here are more likely to decline to sell you something than to cough up any of their increasingly precious coins in change. I've tried to buy a 2-peso candy bar with a 5-peso note only to be refused...
viernes, diciembre 05, 2008
y ojo que hablo de monedas / y no de gruesos billetes
La más irritante crisis económica de la historia llega al sitio más cool de la web, Slate: