The capital’s exchange offices are empty as the dollar falls

The capital’s exchange offices are empty as the dollar falls

After one US dollar was fetched more than 100 rubles this fall (and a euro – 110) rubles, the exchange rate of the “reserve” currencies familiar to Russians dropped below 90 rubles. In Moscow exchange offices it is for this price that you can buy “green” cash (euro – 2-3 rubles more expensive). One might have expected that, based on the principle of “fly in – cheaper”, Muscovites would create a rush at bank cash desks – but nothing of the kind is observed. MK found out why the demand for cash currency disappeared in the capital.

How long has it been since there were queues at exchange offices whenever the dollar and euro exchange rates fluctuated? Yes, in general, recently: this was quite observed last year. True, the low exchange rate (55–65 rubles per dollar) lasted almost the entire summer of 2022, so those who wanted to buy foreign currency in reserve managed to do so quietly, without any fuss. But now it is not at all obvious how long the “bounced” downward rate will hold, and yet there are no queues.

Metro “Shchukinskaya”, two exchange offices in the shopping center. One of them is completely empty (a dollar can be bought for 91.50, a euro for 96 – according to the board), in the other there are three people (there the rate is better – 90 rubles per dollar and 94 per euro). There is, however, a nuance: in the first of the exchangers there are no euros in cash (there are dollars, only 400, you can buy and not deny yourself anything). And in the second, there is still cash: the amount of 1000 euros and the same in dollars did not frighten the operator.

“I want to buy, because there will definitely be demand, and the exchange rate will not fall seriously and for a long time, I’m sure,” says a man in his 60s who is buying currency. The woman standing behind him is planning (“if, of course, everything goes well”) to fly next summer, let and on relays, in the eurozone, which is why he buys cash in advance. “No one knows whether cards from “neutral” countries will work for Russians, but cash is always useful, at least taking a taxi and paying for a hotel,” the buyer says.

In the center of Moscow, it is now extremely difficult to find an exchange office: wherever you look on Tverskaya or Pyatnitskaya, the characteristic boards with numbers that used to be on every corner are no longer there. But whoever is looking for it will find it – and in the alleys that go from Tverskaya to Patriarch’s, the desired cash register is found. But there was also absolutely no excitement: there was no one at the exchange window. And they are ready to sell dollars and euros within reasonable limits (up to 500 euros, up to 1000 dollars) at 90 and 94.5 rubles.

“Now they generally take little cash, and the dollar and the euro have equalized in volume,” says the teller. — It’s not like a few years ago, before Covid, when 80 percent of the volume was euros. As I understand it, in those countries where people travel, you can take dollars as a universal currency; the euro has no advantage in Turkey and similar countries. But they still buy – and most often by the evening there is no more cash left.

The currency buyer seemed to go less relaxed than a couple of years ago: at the door of the exchanger you wait a long time for the next client, but instead of, say, an office lady with a handbag, a convincing bright orange Mustang with tinted windows pulls up – from where two southern guys appear appearance and sent directly to the exchanger. There is no need to ask such clients how much they exchange and for what purpose… And for more than half an hour no one came to the exchanger.

It’s busier in the shopping center near Novokuznetskaya: there, as in Shchukin, there is a small queue of two or three people. And new people are constantly coming up – some to buy, and some, as it turned out, to sell currency.

“I see that the price has fallen, but there is nothing to do, I should have sold it in October,” says a stocky man in a leather jacket gloomily. — I’m renovating an apartment, I keep my money in dollars, you never know. You can’t guess with the course, I’ve already come to terms with it. I need to make another payment, so I’m changing it…

So, it turns out that the reserve function of the dollar and euro in Russia has “shrinked” so much that exchange rate fluctuations no longer cause fuss and queues at exchange offices? This is partly true – but that’s not the only thing. It turned out that many Muscovites still decided to buy dollars and euros for the occasion – they just do it in other ways.

– What to do with cash, it’s inconvenient! – says literary critic Evgeniya. — I actually bought dollars because of the fall in price; they will always come in handy, at least when traveling. But this is done in a completely different way: I transferred the equivalent of 200 euros to my account in the currency of Kazakhstan, and then to my account in euros. So the money ended up on my card, which works in Europe, where I plan to spend it.

Note that the position is quite optimistic: with such a scheme, there is a risk that banks in “neutral” countries will block the dollar and euro accounts of Russians. But, as we see, not everyone takes this risk into account. And of the rest, who could buy currency in cash, as before, many, it seems, do not have free money (especially before the New Year!). And someone, probably, is simply tired of changing the course: well, really, who knows, will it become more expensive or cheaper in the near future? It’s impossible to guess unless you’re a professional. So, why rush around?

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 29162 dated November 22, 2023

Newspaper headline:
Who will bend over for a fallen dollar?

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