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Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

Even stores in NYC are accepting Euro's for the first time ever and what is our government doing about this? So far nothing

Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide
By Alan Clendenning
The Associated Press

Thursday 13 March 2008

Sao Paulo, Brazil - Antique store owners in lower Manhattan, ticket vendors at India's Taj Mahal and Brazilian business executives heading to China all have one thing in common these days: They don't want U.S. dollars.

Hit by a free fall with no end in sight, the once mighty U.S. dollar is no longer just crashing on currency markets and making life more expensive for American tourists and business people abroad; its clout is evaporating worldwide as foreign businesses and individuals turn to other currencies.

Experts say the bleak U.S. economic forecast means it will take years for the greenback to recover its value and prestige.

Negative dollar sentiment is growing in nations where the dollar was historically accepted as equal or better than local currency - and dollar aversion is even extending to some quarters in the United States.

At the Taj Mahal, dollars were always legal tender, alongside rupees, for entry into the palace. But because of the falling value of the dollar, the government implemented a rupees-only policy a month ago. Indian merchants catering to tourists have also turned bearish on the dollar.

"Gone are the days when we used to run after dollars, holding onto them for rainy days," said Vijay Narain, a tour operator in the city of Agra where the Taj Mahal is located. "Now we prefer the euro. It gives us more riches."

In Bolivia, billboards feature George Washington's image on a $1 bill alongside a bright pink 500 euro note, encouraging savers to turn to the euro to tuck away money earned abroad or sent home in remittances.

"If the dollar's going down ... save it in Euros!!!" say the signs popping up around La Paz for Bolivia's Banco Bisa.

And in neighboring Brazil, the Confidence Cambio money-changing service was the first to start offering yuan so travelers to China no longer have to change the money into dollars first. The service is already a hit because Brazil does big business with China, and lots of Brazilians are heading to the Olympics this summer.

"Now we tell people not to take dollars when they go abroad, it's better to change it directly to the local currency," said Fabio Agostinho, one of the firm's managing partners. "If people leave here with dollars and go abroad, they lose when they exchange them. It's the same thing whether they're heading to China, Europe or even Argentina."

In Manhattan's Bowery district, Billy LeRoy, the owner of Billy's Antiques & Props, prefers payment in euros so he can stockpile the currency for his annual antique buying trip to Paris.

"Whip out dollars at the French flea market now, and they'll shoo you away," he said at his store near apartment buildings where Europeans are snapping up units because they've become dirt cheap. "Before it was like the second coming of Christ, but now they don't want it or if they do take dollars, they're going to take their pound of flesh."

The dollar has steadily eroded in value against the euro and other currencies since 2002 as U.S. budget and trade deficits ballooned, but fears of an American recession and credit crisis have sent the dollar to stunning lows amid predictions the slump will continue for a long time.

The euro traded for a record $1.5625 before declining to $1.5586 Thursday while the dollar dropped below 100 Japanese yen for the first time since November 1995. It traded as low as 99.75 yen before recovering some ground to 101.68 yen. The dollar also recently hit a 10-year low against the Chilean peso, and fell to its lowest level against Brazil's real since the nation floated its currency in 1999.

While low dollar cycles have come and gone for decades, experts caution that it's now much more difficult to predict when this one will end because the euro didn't exist as competition for the dollar before.

During previous U.S. economic downturns, big foreign funds typically snapped up U.S. treasuries, helping to shore up the dollar to a certain degree. But the euro and currencies from other nations are now seen as legitimate options, and interest rates are higher outside the United States - meaning the funds can get better returns on investments elsewhere.

"You have the U.S. still holding this trade deficit, but now you have the possibility of a U.S. led recession, and you have a weakening currency. So it's a very dark outlook for the dollar," said Gareth Sylvester, senior currency strategist with the British firm HIFX Inc., which executed $40 billion in currency trades last year.

Nations that were once seen as incredibly risky for investments - such as Brazil - are now seen as good long-term bets. And countries such as China and Russia, with burgeoning coffers of money to invest abroad, are thought to be shifting some of their reserves or diversifying fresh income to destinations and currencies outside the United States.

It used to be important for most countries "to accumulate dollars as a precautionary element against rainy days, but the accumulation of reserves has become so large in most emerging market countries that the balance is way beyond what's needed for precautionary reasons," said Eliot Kalter, a fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a former International Monetary Fund official.

While most experts believe the dollar will eventually regain strength, no one is willing to predict when that will happen.

"I think the factors that are affecting the weakness of the dollar will be reversed, but no time soon," Kalter said.

The problem right now, is that "people just don't want to be holding U.S dollars and U.S.-based equities," Sylvester added. "If you are an investor with a million dollars to invest, you look for the highest yield - you're looking at South Africa, Australia, New Zealand."

And it's not only the big time investors that are looking for other options.

In Peru, where savings in U.S. dollars were long a popular hedge against inflation, many citizens are closing dollar accounts in favor of Peruvian soles.

At the same time, businesses like supermarkets, movie theaters and cable TV companies that used to accept dollars are now demanding soles.

Edwin Figueroa, a 29-year-old systems engineer, switched his checking account from dollars to soles seven months ago as the dollar's decline started worrying him. He doesn't think he'll be going back anytime soon.

The Peruvian sol "is stable now," he said. "And maybe in a year, the dollar will even go lower."

Re: Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

Exchangerate for currencys Euro vs. USD, as of March 14th 2008:

1.00 EUR = 1.56036 USD

For daily checks, see for example:

Universal Currency Converter:

As a subnote, also the Euro-currency has lately dropped slightly in value. However, only marginally, compared to the USD.


Re: Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

The dive in value for the USD, is however since recently beginning to increase income for US touristindustrie, due to a rise in tourists arriving to USA from for example Europe. Not significant increase yet, but if this continues, or even if "only" stagnating, spring and summer may most likely see a heavy inccrease in arriving tourists to also FL and CA. So far, from Scandinavia, most increase of tourist-travellers to USA, seems to be aiming for NYC. "Shopping" seems to be high up on the agenda for them, besides the traditional sightseeing in specifically NYC. Allthough there are downsides by having the nations currency diving in value, storeowners in big citys such as for example NYC in particular, may be looking towards a spring and summer of increased sales.

US car industrie may soon also increase sales overseas, by being less expensive compared to for example primarily Japaneese cars, or German cars for that matter. All of a sudden, more people overseas may see the lesser pricedifferens between for example a Chevrolet and a BMW, being worth perhaps adding just a little in order to get a Chevrolet, instead of the BMW. Wether this will "break out in full" or not, is however yet to see though. Takes more time to really see the signs of this, more in numbers on the roads over here. At least compared to the number of increase in bought flight-tickets by European tourists to USA, which is already quite noteable.

Allthough lowered value in a nations currency has bad sides, there are some good sides of it aswell, unless it drops To low that is.


Re: Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

AB glad there is something good. However, the leaders of this nation have their blinders on. There are 545 people in the federal government, if they didn't want a recession there wouldn't be one. The typical blame game is on, instead of seeking a solution the feds do the blame game. For some reason the pres thinks the rebates are going to get this recession over, that is just a bandaid for a profuse bleeding wound, going to take a lot more than that to fix what is wrong. For one we can stop importing oil from Arab nations.

Re: Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

Robert you are right this country can produe almost all the energy it needs. In your area (san Jose) there is a company making solar panels . It is named nanosolar . Their process is revolutionary . type in nanosolar . the united states has lots of potential oil if we could just drill to find it. Its political more than anything else that is holding us back.

Re: Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

Robert, Sir!

A nations dependancy on import from another nation, regarding such an important thing as oil and/or natural gas, is not, nor has it ever been, good. Just take the few earlier examples of how Russia has acted with its natural gas, going by pipeline through for example Ukraine. I do not know if it was on news the previous year, in US television newsbroadcasts, but it was big knews over here.

1 way to reduce the dependency is to develope and increase the use of "alternative energysources". It is my very personal opinion of that, it would be good for the USA if it would speed up such a process for itself. eveloping and increasing the use of alternative energysources that being ment.

There are however some downsides by for example electricly powered cars for example. Saw a "Toyota prius" this past January. And I emphesize "saw", since I did not hear it while moving, despite standing just a few feet away. Almost scared the extrement out of my intestents, as it past just a few feet infront of my body! Electric powered vihicles may be good for the enviroment and for reducing the nations dependency on other countrys oil-exports to USA. But. It certainly makes it even more important to look carefully to initially the left and thereafter the right, before as a pedestrian walking across a street. Am not trying to be funny by the above. I am serious. Trafficaccidents involving vihicles and pedestrians will in my opinion risk to increase initially, if the use of especially electricly propelled vihicles beginns to increase to more significant numbers. "We adults" may eventually learn to be more carefull of course. But we all know how children kind of "forgetts" about traffic, when playing near roads. And if vihicles are as silent as that Toyota Prius I saw this past January, it makes the risk even higher for children. So you see, I am quite serious and sincere by the very above concern. Myself having a 6,5 year old daughter currently, perhaps helps me in focusing on the above concern more easily of course..... There is a road going by our sumerhouse, just outside the fence. And "we all" know how long and "well" children remembers our words: "Do Not Cross The Road! If the ball goes over the fence to the other side of the road, tell me and I or mother will get it for youinstead. OK!".

Just a few weeks ago, I met a collegue at work whom I had not seen since mid 1990's. One of the first things he said to me, was "Geez, you got a lot of grey hair now Affe". Yes, well.... I have been a father of a daughter for 6,5 years now...... Other friends tells me it will not get any easier either futurewise. "Teenage daughters" they say... At least by then, they do not play with balls which risks going over the fence across a road though.

Realise I am beginning to ramble, so I better end here. T G C!


Re: Dollar's Clout Sinks Worldwide

A.B. The fact that the engines are silent shouldn't pose a problem. It should be simple enough to add a humming noise, or some other sound, to alert pedestrians. Electric typewritters used to have the "clickity noise" built in, because secretaries were used to hearing it on manual models. We can even activate a "click" for our computer keyboards if it makes us feel comfortable, so adding some sort of artificial sound for electric autos should not be a great problem.
A greater problem is most electricity generating plants in the United States are still powered by fossil fuels - so electric cars won't help, in the long run, unless we can generate the power from other sources. They will also have to create electric cars which can travel farther and faster than at present. At current technological levels, electric cars are only useful, at best, in urban areas where "electric hookups" may be plentiful and speeds are low. You've been in this country. Can you picture Americans being content to hum, or buzz, along the interstate at thirty miles an hour, while stopping every hundred miles to recharge the batteries? Recharging also takes too long at present (8-12hrs?) to make long distance travel practical.