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Argentina Needs Higher Badlar Rate to Boost Savings

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Argentina’s benchmark 30-day deposit rate may need to rise to a range of 14 percent to 16 percent in order to help boost savings, said Claudio Cesario, president of the country’s Banks Association.

The rate paid for deposits of at least 1 million pesos ($217,000), known as badlar, fell to 13 percent on Aug. 21 from 14.1 percent on Aug. 17 as peso-deposits rose 20 percent in the year to 329.8 billion pesos on Aug. 10, according to the central bank. The rate was as high as 17.5 percent on Jan. 3, when deposits totalized 273.8 billion pesos.

“The banks’ main goal is to take care of depositors, so it wouldn’t make sense to cut rates,” Cesario told reporters today in Buenos Aires. “If demand for loans keeps rising, we’ll have to try to bring in more deposits.”

Loans to the private sector rose 14.9 percent in the year to 342 billion pesos, according to the central bank figures. About half of the loans were granted to companies, 35 percent to consumption and 15 percent in mortgages and leasing, Cesario said.

Banks have suffered overall deposit withdrawals last year as Argentines took $21.5 billion out of the country in a bid to protect their savings from a weaker peso and one of the region’s highest inflation rates.

Since being reelected by a landslide in October, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has tightened controls on the exchange market and forced companies to repatriate export revenue in a bid to stem capital outflows.

Argentina’s peso was unchanged today at 4.6164 per dollar, while the peso in the unregulated market fell 0.8 percent to 6.5466 per dollar.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires at eraszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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