RICO’s Q – Many I’ve talked to in the past couple of weeks, the average consumer, business persons, and an economist, expect the price of the dollar exchange to increase or stabilize in the coming months. Some are recommending saving, including converting colones to dollars, for that eventuality.

However, there are those who consider that the dollar exchange will continue to drop, maybe even ¢500 in this second quarter.

Despite all of this, one thing is for certain, the dollar exchange continues to record lows every week for the last several months.

I don’t have the statistics to back up either scenario. I suppose I could point to results from the various surveys on the matter, even what I consider one of the most reliable, the Business Expectations Survey prepared by the Institute for Research in Economic Sciences (IICE) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR).

According to the survey notes published in La Nacion, for the period between April and May 2023, 42.4% of those consulted stated that the value of the US currency would rise, while in the previous quarter (January-February) it was 40.6%; For 37.2% of those consulted, the situation with the price of the dollar will not change in the next three months; Only 13% of those interviewed stated that the price of the dollar will decrease in the second quarter of this year.

The IICE study takes in the opinion of 460 companies about the expectation of the exchange rate. The study has a margin of error of 5%

What is of concern is the position of the Central Bank, and its dead ears on the call by the business and tourism sector, for the State entity to take action to curb the drop, at the very least stabilize the dollar exchange.

On Tuesday (April 18, 2023, the president of the Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR), Róger Madrigal, assured that he did not have evidence to confirm that the excess of dollars in the economy, which has affected the appreciation of the exchange rate, is caused by speculative capital or originated illicitly.

Madrigal‘s statement was before the Legislative Committee on Finance Affairs to address a bill to reform the Organic Law of the Central Bank. Madrigal was questioned by the legislators on the fall in the price of the dollar compared to the colon.

Perhaps the most piercing question was that of legislator for the Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN), Paulina Ramírez, who asked Madrigal about whether any type of balance of payments analysis has been carried out to determine the amount of excess dollars in the market currency that could come from illegal sources such as organized crime and drug trafficking.

Madrigal responded: “A call for prudence, is that we began to do some numbers and for whatever reason, perhaps due to lack of understanding, what is not understood is due (attributed) to drug trafficking or is due to capital inflows, without having proof of that… the numbers do not give, the main banks that sell to us tell us that the sales are transactional”.

Madrigal, after explaining that money flows entering Costa Rica are recorded and then exchanged for colones and placed in some instrument and turned the table on legislators of the commission, asking them to guide their vocabulary in using terms that they don’t even know the meaning and confuse the population.

In the end, legislators asked their questions and very few, if any answers with respect to the exchange rate, came out of the session.

What will happen to the dollar exchange rate in the coming months? Hard to say really.
Here’s a look at the dollar exchange in Central America (except Panama which has a dollarized economy.

Costa Rica. The dollar exchange reference rate by the Central Bank this morning, Thursday, April 20, 2023, is ¢531 for the buy and ¢537 for the sell, while at the commercial banks it is quoted between ¢524 and ¢526 for the buy and ¢541 and ¢548 for the sell.
Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, the dollar is at 36.5750 córdobas. To buy it is quoted at 36.1500 while for sale it is at 37.0000 córdobas. The average exchange rate in 2022 was 35.19.
El Salvador. In El Salvador, the dollar averages 8.7545 Salvadoran colones. To buy it is quoted at 8.7495 while for sale it is at 8.7595. The average exchange rate in 2022 was 8.75.
Guatemala. The dollar averages at 7.7950 quetzales, it is bought at 7.7850 and sold at 7.8050. The average exchange rate in 2022 was 7.7.
Honduras. For Honduras, the dollar averages 24.5860 lempiras. To buy it is quoted at 24.5360 while for sale it is at 24.6360 lempiras. The average exchange rate in 2022 was 24.40.

A little further south, in Colombia, today, the buy for the Colombian peso (COP), is 4,500 and for the buy 4,504.18. The average exchange rate in 2022 was 4,257.

With notes from La Nacion, El Financiero, La Republica and Google search.

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