Argentine Currency Controls Have Ripple Effect
"Banks are putting a lot of restrictions on lending to Argentinians," he noted.
The controls have worked to an extent: Argentina's central bank claimed $45 billion in dollar reserves last year but the value of the peso continues to slide, losing nearly 8 percent of its worth against the dollar in 2012.
Argentines unable to convert pesos into dollars through official channel frequently turn to the black market, where the exchange rate is considerably higher.
Maya, who is originally from the Argentine city of Mar de Plata, said he first got the idea to accept pesos after reading about restaurants and hotels in Uruguay that planned to do the same."I said, 'Why not do it here?'" Maya recalled. The Mayas advertised the offer online and at the restaurant with a poster reading, "Eat in Miami, pay in pesos!" Several Argentine bank notes and the official exchange rate are pictured in the background. "Some customers are trying to figure out where is the catch," Maya said. "And there really is no trick. It's the same menu, the same food, the same everything." The decision has been mildly profitable: The Maya restaurant has brought in nearly $10,000 in pesos in the first month. Maya deposits the money in an Argentine bank account and then uses a debit card to extract the money to buy food and supplies. Though some money is lost in the process, he says some earnings amount to extra business and he doesn't plan to stop accepting pesos until currency controls are eased. "We'll do it as long as it lasts," he said. Gustavo Gonzalez said he and his family had just enough money for their 10-day vacation, dividing up their purchases between credit cards and the dollars they were able to obtain. He said they'd likely spend less overall and visit the Maya restaurant several times so they could pay in pesos.
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