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Crisis reduces availability of money and creates coin shortage

02/22/2016 - 07h34

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EDUARDO CUCOLO
FROM BRASÍLIA

The owner of a sandwich shop in the central region of Brasília, Carlos Pinto holds his breath for a few seconds every time a client pulls out a R$ 20 bill or a R$ 50. "Would you happen to have any smaller bills?" asks the shop owner, who doesn't take credit cards.

Data from the Central Bank shows that the total value of notes and coins in circulation in the country barely rose by 2.1 percent in 2015, the smallest growth since the creation of the Plan Real, in 1994. Adjusting for inflation, the value of the current shrank by 8.4 percent.

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The number of notes in circulation fell, between 5 and 9 percent

It is the second time in 22 years that this happens. The other was in 2003, when spending for production of currency was limited to contain public spending. The problem should repeat this year, due to the 7 percent budget cut predicted for the production of currency compared to 2015.

Between 2014 and 2016, this expense should total US $ 330 million.

Last year, the number of notes in circulation, primarily the older notes from the first family of the real, surpassed the production of new money, from second family. With that, the number of available notes shrank by 1 percent.

The number of R$ 5, R$ 10 and R$ 20 notes in circulation fell, between 5 and 9 percent. On the other side, there was a 6 percent increase in R$ 100 notes, which explains, for example, why ATMS dispensed more notes of that value.

FLANELINHAS

But the problem "Mister Carlos", the owner of the sadnwich shop in the Federal District is facing, is mainly the lack of coins. The small increase in the number of metal piecers in circulation (3 percent) seems to not have been enough to meet demand.

As a result, the shop owner says he has to run to the car washes in the area where he works in search of change.

Another tactic, according to him, is to negotiate for R$ 1 coins from the special Olympic Games series from Rio de Janeiro, greatly sought after by collectors, in exchange for other coins of lesser value.

The Central Bank numbers show that the increase in production arose, mainly, in that series. The number of $R 1 increased 6 percent, practically twice growth in seen in the circulation of those of lesser value.

Translated by SUGHEY RAMIREZ
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