Notes From Hairenik
March 12, 2009
The dram seems to have found its place, at least for now, on the monetary exchange market. Yesterday the dollar bought around 365 dram on the street, while the dram to dollar rate was averaging at 375, give or take one or two dram. That discrepancy is not altogether understandable, as there was always a difference of five dram at the most. But the dollar is ever in demand, that's for sure.

The exchange rate will probably continue to fluctuate 10 dram up or down and I think that's perfectly normal. Commerce has not been affected from what I have seen, the Gomidas market for instance is still thriving as always and bread is plentiful. Construction is continuing, with old, historical buildings being demolished to make way for new structures, most likely elite apartment housing which has been the trend for years. There are rumors spreading around that by the year's end people will wait in long lines to buy a loaf of bread as was the case in the early 1990s. With the way things are going here I don't see that happening quite honestly.

Last week's crisis was brought on by a proposal by the International Monetary Fund to provide $540 million in repayable loans on the condition that the dram exchange rate be allowed to float. The rate had been fixed for a year at 305 dram, although the Central Bank has always denied that it had a hand in setting the rate. A few days ago the IMF approved the loan, so things will most likely keep going as they have been, despite the Word Bank's projection of zero economic growth for 2009.

Last but not least I was quoted in an article printed in the Irish newspaper Metro Eireann about the freedom of the press in Armenia. The paper has published a special section about Armenia and its future. You can read the text here.  

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