Real credit to the private sector in Argentine pesos plummeted by 23% in 2019, figures from Banco Central de la República Argentina show.
In a Jan. 2 report on goals and guidelines for 2020, the regulator attributed poor loan demand over the last year to low levels of economic activity, consumption and investment, as well as "great uncertainty" over real future income and the "very high" interest rates.
In addition, loans in U.S. dollars fell by 32% in the period, while broad delinquency levels for the banking system "doubled," the BCRA said. The regulator also estimated a 3.0% fall in GDP during the year and inflation levels above 50%.
Over the course of the year, Argentine banks shifted a portion of their liquidity away from lending and into high-yielding short-term debt issued by the BCRA.
According to the bank, now under Miguel Pesce's command, the "main goal" of the BCRA will be to "design policies that contribute to social and economic development" in Argentina.
President Alberto Fernández and his economic cabinet have repeatedly stated the need to rebound an ailing GDP as a top priority, in contrast with the previous government's emphasis on setting inflation and monetary targets.