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Economic Quarterly

Spring 2006

The Problem of Small Change in Early Argentina

Huberto M. Ennis

From the end of the 18th century through the beginning of the 19th century, shortages of small change occurred in the territory that is present-day Argentina. During the colonial period (until 1810), evidence associated with these shortages included the widespread use of informal means of payment, the difficulties encountered by Crown officials attempting to retire low-quality subsidiary coins from circulation, and the numerous official resolutions banning the export of fractional money. From 1810 to 1825, the episodes surrounding the introduction of copper coins and the issuance of low-denomination bank notes were closely associated with the insufficient availability of small change.

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