Monday, February 25, 2008

NYC adopts the euro

Today's Washington Post tells of the growing ranks of businesses in New York City that are now accepting euros, as well as Canadian dollars and British pounds. The move makes sense, since the weak U.S. dollar has brought flocks of foreign bargain-chasers to the city, and merchants can simultaneously cater to the new customers while accumulating caches of coins and banknotes currently perceived as more likely to hold their value than American greenbacks.

The precipitous fall of the dollar -- currently one euro is worth nearly $1.50 -- has already changed the city.

Last year, the weak currency helped draw 8.5 million foreign visitors to New York, more than ever before, said George Fertitta, chief executive of NYC & Co., the city's tourism operation, and what they have been buying is as varied as lingerie and condominiums. Tourists generated $28 billion in spending last year and supported more than 350,000 jobs, and Europeans represent the largest group of foreign visitors, he said.

The plummeting dollar and rising euro have even entered popular culture. Rapper Jay-Z has a video in which he cruises New York streets flashing wads of euros.

"I need euros," said Garba Bar¿, a street vendor who sells cellphone covers and iPod cases from a table on Broadway in SoHo. He explained that he is from Niger, which he visits frequently and where the euro is commonly used.

"The dollar's going down," he said. "I don't want to change it before I go home."

While something of a sad commentary on government mismanagement of its legal monopoly on money, the real test of declining esteem for the dollar would be if merchants were refusing to accept U.S. money even as they took in euros -- a situation that has occasionally occurred in other countries. Legal tender laws (and practicality) prevent American business owners from making such a dramatic gesture, however, but growing acceptance of foreign currency seems a pretty strong statement on its own.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home