Indonesian currency traders are hoping they will need to take fewer toilet breaks, now that the central bank has started to relax its tight grip on the rupiah. Bank Indonesia (BI) went to such extraordinary lengths in recent months to curb speculative selling of the rupiah that traders say it sent officials into trading rooms, forcing them to retreat to rest rooms to swap market gossip, often via smartphone apps.
"The (toilet) cubicle is the only place we can discuss market rumors anymore and WhatsApp has become the only way we can do it without getting into trouble with Bank Indonesia. Those guys are all over us," one trader at a local bank said of the environment before the central bank started to ease its control of the market.
The impromptu visits by central bank employees were part of an effective if unorthodox ploy to keep the rupiah stronger than 10,000 per dollar, and it shut down all but the most essential deals. Traders said the officials would often turn up at their dealing rooms when the rupiah was under pressure.
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"They began with the usual phone calls that got more and more frequent telling us not to buy dollars and they said we were unpatriotic if we did so," said another trader.
"Then BI put staff on trading floors to put more pressure on us and make it hard even to talk, let alone buying dollars. We're all terrified of BI - of talking to them or about them. We work on silent trading floors."