Bucharest inhabitants have emptied out exchange offices supplies to buy euro for summer vacations, to pay the rates for their foreign-currency loans or just for speculative purposes. “We had a customer today, who bought €10,000. The number of buyers tripled over the past few days, and some of them are buying some tens of thousands of euro”, said the teller of an exchange office in University Square.

She added that many of them are coming when banks close. “Now there are no customers, but once banks close, the queues are stretching to the street, and 90% of them are buying euro”, the teller said.

Yesterday afternoon, at the University Square, currency exchange offices were selling euro for 4-5 lei, and buying it for 4.25-4.34 lei. “I’ve come to buy €2,000 to pay for the vacation I planned for August. I think a euro will be over 5 lei then”, said Maria, one of the few customers of the exchange office at that time.

At Unirii Square, one of the areas with the most exchange offices per square meter, a euro was sold for 4.41 lei at most of the units, and bought for 4.32-4.33 lei. “I sold €10,000 to a client. The number of clients doubled, but low amounts are traded”, said the teller of an exchange office in the aforementioned area.

“I borrowed some money a while ago and I have to return it in the same currency. I lost a lot, but that’s it. A euro could go up to 6 lei”, said Sergiu, who had just converted €3,000.

In Dristor, exchange offices were selling a euro for 4.41-4.42 lei. “I think the panic will persist at least until the exchange rate stabilizes. I’ve had many clients who bought euro for speculative purposes hoping the exchange rates will reach 6 lei/euro”, said the teller of an exchange office in Dristor area in Bucharest.

The best offers were found in Calea Dorobantilor and Romana Square, where a euro was sold for 4.38 lei. “The increase is visible but not as much as we had expected. People don’t have money to convert into foreign currency. Most of them buy euro because they have to leave abroad or pay their debts in euro”, said the teller of an exchange office in Dorobantilor Square.

The National Bank of Romania set a reference rate of 4.3523 lei/euro Tuesday – an all-time low for the national currency.

The level that could determine the central bank to intervene depends on the calculations the institution has made regarding the predicted path of inflation rates after the raise of taxes and of VAT from 19% to 24%.