On March 3, the U.S. dollar rose against the Armenian currency, the dram, by more than 20 percent. The reason: the Armenian Central Bank unexpectedly decided to stop supporting the local currency because it could no longer afford to prop up the dram in the currency markets.
As the Central Bank let the dram float free, Armenians had good reason to dub the day “Black Tuesday.”
People witnessed a loss of their buying power in real time. One of the main supermarket chains, Star, closed for two hours on March 3 before re-opening with higher prices. Panic-stricken customers, fearing their drams would sink even lower, rushed to buy up staples ranging from sugar to flour to olive oil.
The effects of the currency crisis have hit ordinary Armenians hard, and are likely to be felt for a long time to come.