Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

Japan, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand’s Currency Falls

Friday, March 6th, 2009

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Japan’s yen will fall to 102 to the U.S.’s dollar as of tomorrow. The yen had been as strong as 87.12 to the dollar in January and has lost 8.8% since then. The forecast calls for the yen to fall 4% more in the next 3 months. Mexico’s peso has dropped 32% since September. The peso is 16th out of the top 16 most-traded currencies, showing the largest drop and the worst performance also since September. For the fourth week in a row, Australia and New Zealand’s dollars fell against the U.S. dollar. The dollars also fell against the yen. Australia’s economy shrank in the fourth quarter and grew less than expected in January. What is going on here?

Though misery loves company, I don’t think we (by “we” I mean the United States) would wish our economical woes on any other country. So is our economy falling because of the currency issues in foreign countries or are they failing because of our falling dollar and failing stocks?

Because the yen and other Japanese accounts are declining, their investors started and continue to purchase foreign securities. In February, the yen had its worst monthly drop in 13 years, and Japan’s overseas stocks and bonds rose to record numbers. At the same time, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso’s disapproval rating also rose to record highs. Carry trades could have helped Japan borrow foreign currencies with low interest rates and invest in nations with high borrowing costs. Don’t think that the U.S. is safe because our big investors could start purchasing foreign securities also, starting this whole downward spiral.

Mexico’s peso fell 1.4% to the U.S. dollar after an announcement of the country’s currency commission regarding changes to the foreign-exchange auction system. Yesterday the peso was down another 1% to 15.39 to the U.S. dollar. The same currency commission said it will offer to buy $100 million worth of pesos a day in order to guarantee that the central bank’s projected foreign reserve accumulation is sold. Even high ranking Mexican officials say that this will not be enough to jump start Mexico’s economy and failing peso. Mexico is in a state just below panic at this time and if things continue falling, the U.S. is going to have to step in before this goes too far. Just like any other nation, the United States could end up like this at any moment.

Australia has an overall negative dynamic which will be the main issue pushing their dollar lower. The Aussie dollar fell from a value of 64.3 U.S. cents two days ago, to 63.9 U.S. cents yesterday. Even New Zealand is feeling the pain, their dollar falling from 50.2 U.S. cents to 49.8 cents yesterday.

The thing to remember is for one, we are not the only ones feeling this bite of economical downfall. Different countries are hurting to different extents and in slightly different ways, but we can all empathize because if we’re not there, we have been or know we will be. Besides focusing on rebuilding the United States’ economy, we have to remember that the world will follow. This is not the first time we have seen crises and it won’t be the last. Your best weapon in this battle is staying informed and using that knowledge to the fullest.

Zimbabwe and the dollar crisis

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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The Zimbabwean dollar was introduced in August 2006, equal to 1000 of the prior Zimbabwean. However, Zimbabwe’s downwardly spiralling economy and hyperinflation caused by Zimbabwe’s involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has left its local currency worthless. During the start of the war, inflation was at an annual rate of 32% but later rose to a mind - boggling 231,000,000% in July 2008, forcing the Central Bank of Zimbabwe to introduce a new 100 billion dollar note.

The country now has the highest inflation rate in the world. This means that its own currency, which was once on par with the British pound, has now been reduced to nothing. This has forced Zimbabweans to pay trillions of dollars for buying a loaf of bread. But the worst is yet to come for the Zimbabweans as the prices are doubling every 1.3 days.

The government of Zimbabwe is left with various economic problems, after having abandoned earlier efforts to develop a market-oriented economy. Local residents, having left with no option, were forced to buy food and other essentials from neighbouring Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.

The falling economy meant that the exchange rate for the Zimbabwean dollar fell from 24 old Zimbabwean dollars per U.S dollar (USD) in 1998 to to 250,000 prior or 250 new Zimbabwean dollars per US Dollar at the official rate. This was equivalent to 120,000,000 old or 120,000 revalued Zimbabwean dollars per US Dollar on the parallel market, in June 2007.

In the wake of the crisis, Zimbabwe introduced the new Z$100 trillion banknote, and announced that Zimbabweans would be allowed to use other, more stable currencies (e: g the Euro) to do business, alongside the Zimbabwean dollar. However during this period Civil servants were not being paid their salaries and there was widespread discontent among Civil servants, with teachers refusing to attend schools because they were not being paid. Nurses and doctors followed suit and the government was put under extreme pressure.

In an effort to curb the inflation, the RBZ announced that a further 12 zeros were to be taken off the currency – reducing one trillion dollars to one dollar. Meanwhile, as unrests continued to grow among the working class, the government announced that civil servants would be paid in foreign currency and appealed for them to return to work. It was agreed that soldiers and civil servants would be paid in US dollars to help revive the shattered economy. Some 130,000 government employees were paid $100 a month tax-free, replacing their local salaries. Soldiers were the first to be paid in vouchers redeemable for cash. Analysts felt that this was the first concrete step from the new government to prevent a collapse of the system, and restore sanity and trust among the people, for the government.

Poor health, corruption and controversial programmes introduced by the government have seen Zimbabwe dropping from being Africa’s strongest economies to one of the worst economies in the world. The advent of the dollar in the Zimbabwean economy was seen as a ray of hope for the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans have a long way to go to restore the lost pride of its nation. In the dollar, Zimbabweans can look at the world’s dominant economy as a guiding star to lead Zimbabwe out of its economic crisis and pave the way for a better future for the people of Zimbabwe.

Dollarization in Foreign Economies

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

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dollarizationThe term “Dollarization” is when the inhabitants of a country use foreign currency along with (or in place of) their own domestic currency.  Dollarization is not only applied to usage of the United States Dollar, but generally to the use of any other country’s foreign currency as the accepted currency.  Some other currencies that are widely accepted outside of their issuing country of origin are:  the Euro, the South African Rand, the Russian Ruble, and both the New Zealand and Australian Dollars.  For today, however, we’ll focus primarily on the United States Dollar.

Dollarization has never really received much attention, due to the fact that it was generally believed to be politically impossible until 1999, when Jamil Mahuad (then President of Ecuador) attempted official Dollarization through economic reforms of Ecuador’s economy.  He declared a freeze on the country’s bank accounts, in an attempt to control inflation.  This economic plan ultimately lead to a military coup and Mahuad was ousted from office.

Since that time, there have been several other countries that have considered and implemented it as that country’s official policy.  El Salvador, for example, officially adopted the United States dollar in 2001.

Dollarization can fall into three basic categories:

1.  Official Dollarization:  The dollar is the only legal tender, officially adopted, and there is no local currency.  Some examples of countries where this has happened are:  Panama, El Salvador, and Ecuador.  Since their independence in 1903, for example, Panama has used only the United States Dollar exclusively.

This reduces the foreign country’s economic risk, providing a secure, stable economic environment.  These generally tend to be “developing” countries, with transitional economies, especially those with high inflation.

Amazingly enough, the United States Government does not have to provide approval to allow for another country to use its currency as legal tender.

2.  Unofficial Dollarization:  This occurs when private agents, generally in private transactions, prefer the foreign currency over the domestic currency. They might hold, for example, deposits in the foreign currency because of a bad track record of the local currency.  The practice might be widely accepted in that country, but is not classified as “legal tender” by the country’s government.

This can sometimes occur in countries where the United States Dollar has become more prevalent in circulation than the country’s own local currency.  This can be difficult to reverse.

3.  Semi-Dollarization:  Also known as a “Bimonetary System”, foreign currency is legal tender, but plays a role secondary to domestic currency.  Both the United States Dollar and the country’s own currency are used interchangeably.  Cambodia and Lebanon are two countries that practice this, for example.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to Dollarization for a country.

The advantages would be:  Fiscal discipline, resulting in lower inflation and financial stability.  This results in business being easier to conduct within that country, due to the resulting “peace of mind“.  The United States Dollar, for example, has never been devalued, nor has the United States’ notes ever been invalidated.  For a country that has had a past history of bank failures, devaluation and inflation, the temptation of adopting the United States Dollar is strong.

Some disadvantages would be:  Loss of control by the local government, as they lose power and control over inflation and fiscal policy.

It has been estimated that approximately 40-60% of existing United States currency circulates outside of the U.S.  This estimate has been further reinforced by the actions of the U.S. Government, which produced posters and pamphlets between 2003 and 2006, outlining the new look and anti-counterfeiting features of the “New” United States bills in an ASTOUNDING 24 LANGUAGES!

So, the next time you travel outside of the United States and encounter U.S. Currency, or even the next time you pull a Dollar out of your wallet, beaten and worn, looking like it has been “Around the World”, ask yourself:  Where has it been, What countries it has seen,  and how many different hands it has been exchanged through?

To find out where YOUR dollar has been, please visit our FREE Online Dollar Tracking System by clicking on “Enter a Dollar Bill” on the menu above!

United States Secret Service’s Role in Currency Counterfeit Prevention

Monday, December 15th, 2008

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US Secret ServiceMost ordinary U.S. citizens might not associate the Secret Service with our Nation’s currency. In fact, perhaps one of the best known services of the United States Secret Service is protecting our nation’s leaders, especially the President. However, the Secret Service plays a vital role in protecting our currency and in turn, our economy. Currently a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service is responsible for two very distinct areas of responsibility. First, and notably the most well-known, Secret Service Agents serve in protective roles as to preserve the safely of our nation’s leaders and their families. Second, and less publically noted, the Secret Service is responsible for the prevention and investigation of crimes involving US currency and treasury bonds.

In 1865, the U.S. Secret Service was first established for the specific purpose of combating the counterfeiting of money.  At the time, it was reported that one-third to one-half of all the currency in circulation in the U.S. was counterfeit. In fact, in the midst of the Civil War, with somewhere around 7,000 different bills in circulation, it became almost impossible to detect a counterfeit bill from a legitimate one. Therefore, the United States Secret Service was born in order to prevent any further damage to the nation’s struggling economy.  

In 1967, the agency took on additional responsibilities which included investigating those suspected of perpetrating frauds against the government and also served other role of investigating a broad range of crime areas including everything from robberies, murders, the Ku Klux Klan, non-conforming distillers, land fraud, smugglers all the way to illegal gambling.  

Today, the Secret Service is now a division of the Department of Homeland of Security and although the roles assumed by the Secret Service in its early days have since been passed on to other agencies including the FBI, ATS, and IRS, the Secret Service retains primary jurisdiction over all areas of counterfeit U.S. currency and treasury notes as well as its special duty of protecting the president, first lady, and other U.S. dignitaries. The agency also tracks suspicious individuals and steps in to access local crimes when necessary.

One of the oldest crimes in our nation’s history is counterfeit money. Although today’s money has many more preventative measures in place to protect our currency, counterfeiting remains a very real danger for our nation’s economy. In fact, due to modern technologies available to thieves, such as photographic and printing equipment, it has become easier and easier for thieves to commit counterfeiting fraud, therefore, requiring the Secret Service in combination with the U.S. Mint to enact more and more security features into our nation’s currency.

Due to the nature of its role, many details surrounding the Secret Service are kept “secret”. Many of the agents’ identities are kept confidential for their own protection as well as the protection of their job duties. In fact, even the wives and families of some secret service agents do not know their husbands and fathers as Secret Service Agents. Whereas, many agencies require uniforms of their agents, the Secret Service uniforms are designed to blend in with the role they are performing and can range from tuxedos to business suits to jeans.

In conclusion, the United States Secret Service plays a crucial role in the safety of our nation. It protects some of the most important persons in our nation all the way from the President and First Family, to other political figures and embassies. However, its role in protecting our currency is perhaps as crucial to our economy as any other role assumed by the agency. 

A Backyard Full of CASH???

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

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dollar cash goldAs we enter into what is expected to be one of the largest recessions in our nation’s history, individuals throughout the United States are faced with the question: “what should I do with my money”? During the Great Depression, many individuals hid cans of coins in their backyards due to their mistrust of the banking institutions. More and more individuals have lost confidence in our current banking system and have begun to question the safety of one of their most safely guarded possessions: money. But what is the best way to protect one’s cash?

Over the years, we’ve all heard of random places to hide money: under the bed, in the freezer, buried in the backyard, in the Bible but where is the best place to put it? My grandmother hid cash for years in the back of her closet between some old quilts that were never used. No one knew about this until after the passed. My husband’s grand-father hid his money throughout his home. He told his widow from his deathbed to throw nothing away in that house without fully going through it. Still to the day, she’ll be going through some old book or other item and stumble upon a $100 bill. Perhaps this was his way of always making sure she was taken care of, but more than likely; he felt it was safer than putting his money in a bank. A close family friend is said to have “millions” of dollars buried in his backyard under a fig tree and while I don’t know if it’s true or not, it does make for a good legend. I’ve often wondered if upon his death, anyone will visit his backyard with a shovel to look for buried treasure!

Of course, burying cash in the backyard is nothing new. During the Great Depression Era, it was common for folks to make “treasure maps” and place their valuables in the ground in coffee cans or old metal boxes. Today a “Ziploc” brand bag, placed in a piece of PVC pipe is a common way to bury cash five feet into the ground. In fact, there’s even an “invention” floating around on eBay called the “Midnight Gardner”. The device is actually a simple twelve by four inch capped, watertight PVC pipe which is said to hold as much as $4,000 in gold, silver, or cash.

Is it a good idea to bury cash? Some say it’s not as the paper money will lose value due to inflation. These individuals recommend investing in gold bullion and burying that as it will hold it value better than cash. There are those that say if the economy got to the point that money invested in banks was gone, that paper money would hold no value either. Others still insist that burying money/gold/etc is a bad idea because it can be easily forgotten or lost. Then, there are those that say that any attempt at “playing it safe” and pulling money out of the economy only worsens the effect of the recession.

In the end, I’m of the opinion that what to do with money is a personal decision and should be made by each individual with regards to what they feel is the safest route for them. As for me, I’ve got a personal stock of cash that I’m seeking a place to hide away for a “rainy day”.

The Rate Of The United States Dollar

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

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The United States Dollar is the single most recognized paper currency in the world. Not only does support allrate united states dollar major transactions, whether domestically and internationally, but it is also the most used and preferred currency in the business world today, internationally. Understanding and knowing the value and the rate of the United States Dollar against other major foreign currencies and the impacts it has on the financial markets can do a lot for those who have or are planning to invest in the international financial markets. The rate of the United States dollar has and will continue to be the fundamental basis for many other international currencies, for many years to come.

The rate of the United Dollars is also the most telling indicator in gauging the status of the United States economy. This is because by simply knowing its rate, one will also be able to compare the strength of the economy of the United States against the economies of the nations and countries around the world. Because the international currency markets are based on the simple practice of trading with multiple different currencies, knowing the rate of the United States dollar will give an extra edge against the odds of making a profit when investing in this form of market. This is because the currency market is the single largest market in the world and the the United States dollar, given its vast use and utilization, plays a huge and significant role in ensuring a constant and lucrative worth in gain upon investment.

united states dollarThe rate of the United States dollar will also determine many other things, like the price of groceries or clothing, to spending on vacations overseas through exchange rates, to the price of gas and utilities. How much value it carries depends solely on the economy of the United States. The United States Dollar is also kept as a reserve currency amongst nations and countries, all around the world, which gives it that added influence in determining the strength of the global economy. It is also used as the major form of payment for raw materials, especially in the energy sector, making it even that more indispensable. Knowing the rate of the United States dollar will also tremendously help in analyzing the risk of investing in the forex market, so being able to tell how much the dollar is worth will allow investors to identify where to best trade their investments to allow a profitable income to be made from the international currency exchange markets.

It is safe to conclude that the rate of the United States dollar is the single driving force in the currency and financial markets today, and while other international currencies may influence the markets to a certain degree, the rate of the United States dollar is still the most important as it is considered the most credible and safest investment in term of currency trading. There are so many ways to learn about the rate of the United States dollar and its correlation with the international currency market and the internet is one of them.

Dollarization

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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dollarizationDollarization, in a nutshell, transpires when a nation uses foreign currency to substitute theirs. Although the terminology may have different interpretations, officially what happens is a country ceases the use of their own domestic currency and opts for a much stabile foreign currency, usually to help aid their already ailing economies. Although similar in effect, dollarization is another slow but sure-fix alternative to pegging or maintaining a floating currency, which are all efficient methods in endowing a much steady and secure economic and investment environment.

So far, currencies that have been officially used for dollarization are the United States dollar, the Euro, the Australian dollar, the Russian ruble, the Swiss franc, the Indian rupee, the New Zealand dollar, and the Turkish new lira.

Today, more countries in the world have dollarized their currencies to the US dollar as compared to any other foreign money. Amongst some of the countries that have adopted the US dollar as legal tender are British Virgin Islands, East Timor, Marshall Islands, Ecuador, Federated States of Micronesia, El Salvador, Turks and Caicos Islands, Palau, and Panama. These countries may have opted for dollarization due to its emerging and transitional economies, or could also have had owing issues with rising inflation.

Dollarization wasn’t always an approachable option though, as it was previously believed to be not viable on a political stand point. However this changed in 1999, when it began gaining a reputation as an implementable strategy by a number of countries in dire need of an economic surge. This was probably because it was thought to be the most instrumental strategy in lowering inflation and promoting better financial strength.

Many of these countries may have also already been using US dollar informally in prior to fully engaging in dollarization, probably in private or public transactions, banks accounts or even contracts. The full switch to foreign legal tender would mean that individuals and institutions were beginning to desperately protect their interests against an imminent and fore-seeable devaluation of their local exchange rate. Dollarizing their economies would also mean that their financial markets become more credible, ending any further damaging financial speculations and further stifling capital markets. The fact that the disparities in exchange rate is no longer a threat is also a driving factor behind the reduction of interests on foreign lending.

Apart from many of its advantages, dollarization also has its short-comings. One of the main disadvantages of dollarization is a nation virtually gives up its right to directly control its own economy or administer any monetary policies, and its ability to manage exchange rates. This is primarily because with dollarization the country no longer prints its own currency.

Another drawback to dollarization is the practicing country will no longer be able to collect any profits from the issuing of currency. This happens when the cost of producing the currency is lower than the actual currency itself. The US Federal Reserve collects all profits in this instance. Apart from the negative impact this has on GDP, the country in its entirety also suffers a significant loss of income.

Dollarization also robs a nation of its sense of individualism, due to the autonomous financial and economic policy that’s conditioned with it. Whatever the pros and cons of dollarization may be, experts say that it is only to be used as an extreme alternative, as most countries that have adopted it finds it a process that is almost impossible to reverse, without causing long lasting financial repercussions that is.

The US Dollar As The Leading International Reserve Currency

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

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euros us dollarsThe US dollar has always been the most imperative reserve currency in the world, to date at least. So significant is the US dollar bill in its trade that it is said that up to 70 percent of international currency reserves today is made out of the US dollar. This is probably the reason why the United States can afford to run higher global trade deficits and get away with it, its because of the much delayed impact this has on its economy. This “float” illusion also ultimately gives the US dollar bill enough time to recuperate, and in doing so helps to absorb some of the brunt of a financial crisis.

The reason the US dollar gained such an acclaimed reputation is due to it consistency in strength, making it a favorite amongst international traders. It was so commonly used in international trade that nations began stockpiling US currency as a indefinite form of bailout. The stash also directly helps strengthen export competitiveness within these countries, although this would also directly result in the weakening of their own respective currencies. Another advantage to stockpiling the US dollar is the fast and great inflows of capital it creates, which ultimately helps its intention in buffering against any impending financial predicaments.

This wasn’t always the case though, the US dollar did not have as much international presence as it does today early in the century, and this is why many experts say the US economy crashed back in 1929, during the great depression, because the world wasn’t as dependant on it as it is today.

Even essential commodities like gold and oil are priced in US dollar to create a more common global denominator, eliminating unhealthy trade competition, and many countries retain the currency as a means to ease trade.

The US dollar was initially established as a reserve currency principally because the US flooded the world with economical but quality manufactured goods, forcing international markets to have US dollar ready-at-hand. This is no longer the case these days, US made goods are now expensive and countries like Japan produce higher quality goods for fraction of the price.

Today, the US dollar is slowly loosing its appeal as the preferred reserve currency globally, thanks to the introduction of the Euro, arguably a much more stable currency, although continuous debates follows those who may think otherwise. Whatever it may be, I think the US dollar will preserve its status as the number one reserve currency for a long long time to come.