Argentine peso

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Argentine peso
Peso argentino  (Spanish)
ISO 4217
 1Mango (slang)
 100Gamba (slang)
 1,000Luca (slang)
 1,000,000Palo (slang)
 Freq. used20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 pesos
 Freq. used1, 2, 5, 10 pesos
 Rarely used1, 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos (discontinued due to inflation, still legal tender)
User(s) Argentina
Central bankCentral Bank of the Argentine Republic
 SourceBanco Ciudad and private consultants[2][3]

The peso (established as the peso convertible) is the currency of Argentina, identified by the symbol $ preceding the amount in the same way as many countries using dollar currencies. It is subdivided into 100 centavos. Its ISO 4217 code is ARS.

Since the late 20th century, the Argentine peso has experienced a substantial rate of devaluation, reaching over 51% year-on-year inflation rate in 2021.[4] The official exchange rate for the United States dollar hovered around 3:1 from 2002 to 2008, climbing from 6:1 to 10:1 between 2009 and 2015. By August 2019, the rate had risen to 60:1 after the market's reaction to the 2019 Argentine primary elections.[5] By October 2020, the unofficial or freely available rate had risen to 195:1 (ARS to USD).[6][7]


Amounts in earlier pesos were sometimes preceded by a "$" sign and sometimes, particularly informal use, by symbols identifying that it was a specific currency, for example $m/n100 or m$n100 for pesos moneda nacional. The peso introduced in 1992 is just called peso (until 2002 peso convertible), and is written preceded by a "$" sign only. Earlier pesos replaced currencies also called peso, and sometimes two varieties of peso coexisted, making it necessary to have a distinguishing term to use, at least in the transitional period; the 1992 peso replaced a currency with a different name, austral.

Peso before 1826[edit]

The peso was a name often used for the silver Spanish eight-real coin. Following independence, Argentina began issuing its own coins, denominated in reales, soles and escudos, including silver eight-real (or sol) coins still known as pesos. These coins, together with those from neighbouring countries, circulated until 1881.

Peso fuerte, 1826–1881[edit]

In 1826, two paper money issues began, denominated in pesos. One, the peso fuerte ($F) was a convertible currency, with 17 pesos fuertes equal to one Spanish ounce (27.0643 g) of 0.916 fine gold. It was replaced by the peso moneda nacional at par in 1881.

Peso moneda corriente, 1826–1881[edit]

The non-convertible peso moneda corriente (everyday currency) ($m/c) was also introduced in 1826. It started at par with the peso fuerte, but depreciated with time.

Although the Argentine Confederation issued 1-, 2- and 4-centavo coins in 1854, with 100 centavos equal to 1 peso = 8 reales, Argentina did not decimalize until 1881. The peso moneda nacional (m$n or $m/n) replaced the earlier currencies at the rate of 1 peso moneda nacional = 8 reales = 1 peso fuerte = 25 peso moneda corriente. Initially, one peso moneda nacional coin was made of silver and known as patacón. However, the 1890 economic crisis ensured that no further silver coins were issued.

Gold and silver pesos, 1881–1970[edit]

The Argentine gold coin from 1875 was the gold peso fuerte, one and two-thirds of a gram of gold of fineness 900, equivalent to one and a half grams of fine gold, defined by law 733 of 1875. This unit was based on that recommended by the European Congress of Economists in Paris in 1867 and adopted by Japan in 1873 (the Argentine 5 peso fuerte coin was equivalent to the Japanese 5 yen).[8]

The monetary system before 1881 has been described as "anarchistic" (anarquía monetaria).[8] Law 1130 of 1881 put an end to this; it established the monetary unit as the peso oro sellado ("stamped gold peso"), a coin of 1.612 grams of gold of fineness 900 (90%), and the silver peso, 25 g of silver of fineness 900.[8] Gold coins of 5 and 2.5 pesos were to be used, silver coins of one peso and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centavos, and copper coins of 2 and 1 centavos.

Peso moneda nacional, 1881–1970[edit]

1891 Banknote

The depreciated peso moneda corriente was replaced in 1881 by the paper peso moneda nacional (national currency, (m$n or $m/n)) at a rate of 25 to 1. This currency was used from 1881 until January 1, 1970[9] The design was changed in 1899 and again in 1942.

Initially the peso m$n was convertible, with a value of one peso oro sellado. Convertibility was maintained off and on, with decreasing value in gold, until it was finally abandoned in 1929, when m$n 2.2727 was equivalent to one peso oro.

Peso ley, 1970–1983[edit]

The peso ley 18.188 (ISO 4217: ARL) (informally called the peso ley) replaced the previous currency at a rate of 1 peso ley to 100 pesos moneda nacional.

Peso argentino, 1983–1985[edit]

The peso argentino ($a) (ISO 4217: ARP) replaced the previous currency at a rate of 1 peso argentino to 10,000 pesos ley (1 million pesos m$n). The currency was born just before the return of democracy, on June 1, 1983. However, it rapidly lost its purchasing power and was devalued several times, and was replaced by a new currency called the austral in June 1985.

Austral, 1985–1991[edit]

The austral ("₳") (ISO 4217: ARA) replaced the peso argentino at a rate of 1 austral to 1000 pesos (one billion pesos m$n). During the period of circulation of the austral, Argentina suffered from hyperinflation. The last months of President Raul Alfonsín's period in office in 1989 saw prices move up constantly (200% in July alone), with a consequent fall in the value of the currency. Emergency notes of 10,000, 50,000 and 500,000 australes were issued, and provincial administrations issued their own currency for the first time in decades. The value of the currency stabilized soon after President Carlos Menem was elected.

Peso convertible, 1992–present[edit]

The current peso (ISO 4217: ARS) replaced the austral at a rate of 1 peso = 10,000 australes (ten trillion pesos m$n). It was also referred to as peso convertible since the international exchange rate was fixed by the Central Bank at 1 peso to 1 U.S. dollar and for every peso convertible circulating, there was a US dollar in the Central Bank's foreign currency reserves. After the various changes of currency and dropping of zeros, one peso convertible was equivalent to 10 trillion pesos moneda nacional. However, after the financial crisis of 2001, the fixed exchange rate system was abandoned.

Since January 2002, the exchange rate has fluctuated, up to a peak of four pesos to one dollar (that is, a 75% devaluation). The resulting export boom produced a massive inflow of dollars into the Argentine economy, which helped lower their price. For a time the administration stated and maintained a strategy of keeping the exchange rate at between 2.90 and 3.10 pesos per US dollar, in order to maintain the competitiveness of exports and encourage import substitution by local industries. When necessary, the Central Bank issues pesos and buys dollars in the free market (sometimes large amounts, in the order of 10 to US$100 million per day) to keep the dollar price from dropping, and had amassed over US$27 billion in reserves before the US$9.81 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund in January 2006.

The effect of this may be compared to the neighboring Brazilian real, which was roughly on a par with the Argentine peso until the beginning of 2003, when both currencies were about three per U.S. dollar. The real started gaining in value more than the peso due to Brazil's slower buildup of dollar reserves; by December 29, 2009 a real was worth almost 2.2 pesos.[10]

In December 2015, US dollar exchange restrictions were removed in Argentina following the election of President Mauricio Macri. As a result, the difference between the official rate and the unofficial “blue” rate almost disappeared.

The official exchange rate was on April 1, 2016, 14.4 to US$1.[11] On November 10, 2017, it was 17.5. On November 2 2018, it was 36.60 after it hit the 42 pesos mark one month before.

By August 12, 2019, the rate had risen to 60:1 after the market's reaction to the 2019 primary elections.

As of 23 October 2020, one U.S. dollar was quoted at 83.85 pesos at the official rate and 195 pesos in unregulated markets. The gap between the official and black market exchange rates is the widest since 1992. The financial distress in Argentina is being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.[12]


In 1992, 1-, 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-centavo coins were introduced, followed by 1 peso in 1994. Two peso coins for circulation were introduced in 2010. The 1-centavo coins were last minted in 2001. In 2017 a new series of coins were issued in denominations of $1, $2, $5 and $10.[13]

Circulating coins of the Argentine peso (1st series)
Denomination Obverse Reverse
1 centavo Argentina 1 centavo
5 centavos Argentina 5 centavos
10 centavos Argentina 10 centavos
25 centavos Argentina 25 centavos
50 centavos Argentina 50 centavos
1 peso Argentina 1 peso
2 pesos Argentina 2 pesos
Circulating coins of the Argentine peso (2nd series)
Denomination Obverse      Reverse
1 peso Argentina 1 peso (2017-present)
2 pesos Argentina 2 pesos (2018-present)
5 pesos Argentina 5 pesos (2017-present)
10 pesos Argentina 10 pesos (2018-present)

Commemorative coins[edit]

Commemorating the National Constitutional Convention, 2-peso and 5-peso nickel coins were issued in 1994.

Commemorative coins
Denomination Obverse Reverse
50 centavos (1996) 50 centavos (50th anniversary of UNICEF)
50 centavos (1997) 50 centavos (50th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón and the attainment of voting rights by women)
50 centavos (1998) 50 centavos (The establishment of Mercosur)
50 centavos (2000) 50 centavos (Death of General Martín Miguel de Güemes)
50 centavos (2001) 50 centavos (Death of José de San Martín)
1 peso (1996) 1 peso (50th anniversary of UNICEF)
1 peso (1997) 1 peso (50th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón and the attainment of voting rights by women)
1 peso (1998) 1 peso (The establishment of Mercosur)
1 peso (2001) 1 peso (Death of General José de Urquiza)
2 pesos (1994) 2 peso (National Constitution Convention)
5 pesos (1994) 5 peso (National Constitution Convention)
2 pesos (2007) 2 pesos commemorating the Falklands War (Malvinas War)

Some 2-peso coins were issued in 1999 to commemorate the centenary of the birth of world-famous writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges; they had an image of Borges' face on one side, and a labyrinth and the Hebrew letter aleph on the other. In addition, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón, on September 18, 2002 a new 2-peso coin with her face was created. It was said that this coin would replace the old AR$2 banknote if inflation continued to be high. None of the 2-peso coins are currently in wide circulation.

Some other 50- and 1-peso coins exist commemorating different events, including the 50th anniversary of the creation of UNICEF (1996); the attainment of voting rights by women (1997); the establishment of Mercosur (1998); and the death of José de San Martín (2001).

In 2010, commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the May Revolution, several 1-peso coins were issued, all featuring the same obverse, different from the main series, and images of different places on the reverse, such as Mar del Plata, the Perito Moreno Glacier, mount Aconcagua, the Pucará de Tilcara, and El Palmar.


In 1992, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. The 1-peso note was replaced by a coin in 1994. The pictures below are outdated, since they bear the legend "Convertibles de curso legal" (meaning that value was fixed to the same amount in US dollars). New bills, printed since 2002, do not have this text. As most bills have been replaced, it is rare to find ones marked as convertible except in the large $100 denominations. All bills are 155 × 65 mm in size.[14]

Value Color Description Issue
Obverse Reverse Watermark
$2 Blue Bartolomé Mitre; replica of a handwritten manuscript of Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina and contrapuerta of his house Museo Mitre Bartolomé Mitre and his initials November 26, 1997 - April 30, 2018
$5 Green José de San Martín; replica of his will and reproduction of Abrazo de Maipú, painting by Pedro Subercaseaux depicting the hug shared by San Martín and Bernardo O'Higgins that sealed Chile's independence Monument to the Army of the Andes, Cerro de la Gloria; Order of the Liberator General San Martín medal José de San Martín and his initials June 22, 1998 - February 29, 2020
$5 Green José de San Martín and the Order of the Liberator José Artigas, Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, and Bernardo O'Higgins José de San Martín and his initials October 1, 2015 - February 29, 2020
$10 Brown Manuel Belgrano; replica of an 1812 report by him to the government of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and reproduction of La Patria Abanderada by Alfredo Bigatti at the National Flag Memorial National Flag Memorial; drum —in remembrance of drummer boy Pedro Ríos who died at the Battle of Tacuarí— and typical textile pattern from the Argentine Northwest Manuel Belgrano and his initials January 14, 1999
$10 Brown, green, blue and purple Manuel Belgrano Juana Azurduy de Padilla and Manuel Belgrano on horseback with swords raised to the new flag on February 27, 1812 along the Paraná River Manuel Belgrano and electrotype MB April 4, 2016
$20 Red Juan Manuel de Rosas; reproduction of Retrato de Manuelita Rosas by Prilidiano Pueyrredón, which depicts his daughter Manuela Rosas Battle of Vuelta de Obligado; reproduction of the military trophies included in the 8 reales coin of 1840 Juan Manuel de Rosas and his initials January 18, 2000
$50 Black Domingo Faustino Sarmiento; reproduction of a manuscript of Vida de Dominguito, biography of his adopted son, who died at the Battle of Curupayty Casa Rosada; motifs to his various activities: La Porteña locomotive, European immigration and Facundo (1845), a cornerstone of Latin American literature Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and his initials July 19, 1999
$50 Blue The Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Antonio Rivero, the Argentine Military Cemetery, light cruiser General Belgrano, the Falkland Islands, and the dolphin gull Falkland Islands and electrotype IM (for Islas Malvinas) 2 March 2015
$100 Violet Julio Argentino Roca, replica of a letter Roca sent to Miguel Cané (a diplomat), and evocation of Argentine progress under the sun of the future Conquest of the Desert — The painting La Conquista del Desierto by Juan Manuel Blanes; evocation of Roca as a statesman and military man: handwritten sheets of paper, the saber and a laurel branch Julio Argentino Roca and his initials December 3, 1999
$100 Violet Eva Perón; based on the design of a 5-peso banknote planned to be released following her 1952 death, but unreleased due to the coup that deposed President Juan Perón From the Ara Pacis: a goddess with toddlers Eva Perón and her initials September 20, 2012

Fourth Series[edit]

In 2016, the Banco Central de la República Argentina issued a new series of banknotes, with the 200 and 500 pesos banknotes as the newest denominations. A new 20 and 1000-pesos note were issued in 2017, and new banknotes of 50 and 100 pesos were issued in 2018. A new series of coins in denominations of $1, $2, $5, and $10 started to be issued since 2018.[15][16][17]

A banknote of 5000 pesos was announced with an unspecified release date. The design of the banknote was confirmed on 16 May 2020.[18][19]

Value Color Description Issue
Obverse Reverse Watermark
$20 Red Guanaco Patagonian Desert Guanaco and electrotype 20 3 October 2017
$50 Gray Andean condor Aconcagua Andean condor and electrotype 50 15 August 2018
$100 Violet Taruca Sierra de Famatina Taruca and electrotype 100 18 December 2018
$200 Blue Southern right whale Valdes Peninsula Whale and electrotype 200 26 October 2016
$500 Green Jaguar Yungas Jaguar and electrotype 500 29 June 2016
$1000 Orange Hornero Pampas Hornero and electrotype 1000 30 November 2017

Exchange rates[edit]

Current ARS exchange rates

See also[edit]


  1. ^ La Argentina, con la cuarta mayor inflación del mundo
  2. ^ PriceStats index according to The Billion Prices Project @ MIT
  3. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos Archived 2007-04-06 at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish)
  4. ^ Hernan Nessi; Jorge Iorio (July 15, 2021). "Argentina's annual inflation rate tops 50% as global prices soar". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Buenos Aires Times - Black Monday: Peso slumps to 60 per dollar in some banks, MERVAL collapses". Buenos Aires Times (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  6. ^ Do Rosario, Jorgelina; Olivera Doll, Ignacio (23 October 2020). "Nobody Wants Pesos: Argentine Currency Meltdown Upends Business". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  7. ^ "El dólar blue subió a $ 195 y el contado con liqui cayó tras los llamados oficiales para frenar operaciones". Clarín (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  8. ^ a b c (in Spanish) Historia de la moneda
  9. ^ Archived 2012-11-29 at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish), (in English) Billetes argentinos site. Spanish version is more detailed.
  10. ^ Brazilian-Argentine Exchange Rate
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Dólar Blue | á". Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Banco Central de la República Argentina. "Notes". Banco Central de la República Argentina. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Argentina new note designs unveiled for 2017 introduction".
  16. ^ "El Banco Central anunció nuevos billetes con animales autóctonos".
  17. ^ " "El BCRA pone en circulación el nuevo billete de curso legal de $1000".
  18. ^ "Nuevo billete de $ 5000: cómo sería, cuándo saldría y por qué es polémico". El Cronista (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  19. ^ "¿Cuándo es la fecha de entrega del billete de 5000?". BAE Negocios (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-10-24.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cunietti-Ferrando, Arnaldo J.: Monedas de la Republica Argentina desde 1813 a nuestros Dias. Cooke & Compañia. Editores Numismaticos, Buenos Aires, 1978.
  • Cunietti-Ferrando, Arnaldo J.: Monedas y Medallas. Cuatro siglos de historia y Arte. Coins and Medals. Four centuries of history and art. Manrique Zago ediciones, Buenos Aires, 1989.
  • Janson, Hector Carlos: La Moneda Circulante En El Territorio Argentino 1767–1998. Buenos Aires, 1998.

External links[edit]