But a number of economists say that because Argentines lack confidence in official data, the "blue dollar" is doing exactly that, becoming one of the nation's most closely watched indicators of consumer confidence, and as such influencing prices for everything from food to real estate.
"The blue dollar is reflecting the inflation that people feel in their pockets," said Argentine economist Enrique Dentice at the Universidad de San Martin. "It's what people expect to be the rate of devaluation."
Argentina's leading media companies and web sites track the illegal trading of this "blue dollar" by the minute, and as with the INDEC, their methodologies are not transparent. Dentice suspects the influence of major exporters, including Argentina's all-important soy producers, who must soon sell their harvest, and whose dollar profits jump every time the peso drops.
They're preying on the Argentine psyche, says Dentice, who maintains that the economy is stronger than many people think.
"It's psychological," he said, citing the many crashes that have fundamentally shaken the Argentines' faith in economic progress.
"When you have the memory we have, of generations that always end up doing badly, it's difficult to escape from it," he said. "We have this ancestral memory. We expect to be saved by the dollar."
Associated Press writer Luis Alonso Lugo in Washington contributed to this report.
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