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Argentinian new 500 peso bills entered in circulation this week. For the first time in years, there’s no founding father on it, but a jaguar, a very endangered feline species from the north of Argentina. The bill is made of cotton and other organic materials, in what looks like a statement for ecological conscience in a country, where most of wildlife is dissappearing rapidly because of deforestation for agricultural purposes, especially soy plantations. On the other hand, one of the first acts of government of Mauricio Macri, was to benefit this same agricultural sector by lifting the export taxes, promoted by his peronist predecessors.

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Soy monoculture

Macri has a clearly more conservative and liberal approach to economics than the peronist Kirchner. One of the magical features of the former (Kirchner) government was that they tried to curb inflation, not by cutting back government spending but by keeping the denominations of the bills small! Actually, until the Jaguar-bill, the highest bill in Argentina was the 100-pesos bill, worth something like 5 euros, a ridiculous low amount for a country where supermarkets are more expensive than in Germany. The idea of the small bills was somehow to discourage consumption, but in reality people would have their wallets bulging when going to the grocery store.

Now the Macri government wants to attack inflation by more orthodox methods, like cutting government subsidies on water, electricity and gas.

Clearly the 500-peso bill (30 euro) will not be enough to meet the demands of the local economy but the central Bank has announced that there will be another wildlife bill in 2017, a 1000-peso banknote. Another new ecological bill will be issued this year: a 200-peso banknote which was withdrawn prematurely from circulation in January, because the Southern Right Whale on the bill was badly designed:

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The whale was on its head, seemed to have a too big a smile and had ears instead of fins. Clearly for the Macri government, the ecological ambitions are still a work in progress.

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