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Outrage at Photo of Central Bank President Sunbathing Amid Currency Crisis

Luis Caputo was criticized for flagrant spending during a deepening crisis.

By | [email protected] | September 5, 2018 12:26pm

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Luis Caputo, whose role as the President of Argentina’s Central Bank includes controlling the value of the peso and restricting Argentina’s rapid devaluation as much as possible, came under fire after a picture of the official sunbathing emerged this week. Many have criticized the poor taste of the official’s actions as an ever-deepening crisis unravels in Argentina, as many citizens are increasingly left in positions of growing economic uncertainty.

The picture was taken in mid-August amidst an increasingly frenetic currency crisis in Argentina, when Caputo took advantage of the long weekend meant to commemorate the anniversary of the death of General San Martin to visit the Sofitel hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The photos, which were published by the newspaper Perfil, show Caputo stretched out in the sun on the beach and smiling with his wife, holding a striped towel at the exclusive hotel.

“Toto,” as Caputo is known by his friends, did not join Nicolás Dujovne in Washington this week, where the Finance Minister is currently negotiating Argentina’s US $50 billion loan deal with top IMF officials—a decision that raised many eyebrows in Argentina.

At the same time, Caputo has faced criticism for what many have referred to as wasteful spending during Argentina’s worst economic crisis in the last ten years, pointing to the fact that his spokesperson, Yael Bialostozky, travels via a private car driven by a Central Bank chauffeur.

The private drivers had been cut by Federico Sturzenegger, the previous Central Bank president, for being too expensive. Sturzenegger had said that the cars, which are available to directors 24 hours a day and cost more than AR $100,000, are not used for much of the day, and if anything, “end up taking the children to school” or are left to idle. When Caputo arrived, he said that the cost of the private drivers ultimately did not have that great of an impact on total Central Bank expenses, and decided to keep them.

After returning from Ipanema, Caputo attempted to stop the rapid devaluation of the peso with the sale of foreign currency. However, he was ultimately unsuccessful, with the price of the dollar rising at one point above AR $42— a record high.