Monday, June 30, 2008

Old Money Still Good Money (But Worth Less Money)

Collobrières, a village in Provence (southeast Mediterranean France), has authorized the use of the French franc en lieu du Euro for everyday purchases. The idea came from the town baker, Nathalie Lepeltier. According to Lepeltier, "The euro has made life more expensive; prices are much higher... people have lost the concept of the value of money with the euro." But: "People remember the price in francs, and they're shocked now when they use francs at how much more everything costs."

FP Passport's Katie Hunter writes that "the franc's reintroduction has helped the villagers of Collobrières strengthen one value -- their French identity." If only the U.S. had switched over to the Euro ten years ago, then we could feel nostalgic for our hyperinflated currency, instead of, you know, using it.

I tell this story a lot, but I first visited France when I was 20 in March 2000. France and Germany and a handful of other "strong currency" nations were deliberately devaluing their currency before switching to the Euro, for monetary policy reasons I don't completely understand. Anyways, the U.S. government was solvent and reasonably beloved and the dollar was robust, so we were buying unbelievable food at six francs to the dollar, full course prix fixe dinners for ten or fifteen bucks each, including wine. I never ate or loved Europe so well again. That's a bit of French identity that I would love to regain.

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