Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck

The Euro 1162

Posted by michael
from the rfid-tags-coming-soon dept.
Dizer writes: "Today sees the historic introduction of the new European Currency (Euro) into European hands. The Eurozone market, with a population of 300 million people, will be cashing in their Punts, Francs and Deutschmarks in favour of the new common Euro currency. This is the biggest currency transition in history, vive l'Europe! See stories on ireland.com or the BBC."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Euro

Comments Filter:
  • Simple question.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dj28 (212815)
    Why did Britain (the country with the most stable currecny) opt out of using the Euro?
    • Partially, I think you answered your own question: the stability of the pound, and the fact that it often outperforms the dollar, makes it easier to maintain as a separate currency.

      Also, there's a lot of political resistence to Europeanization in the UK. Many there seem to still think of the Continent as chaotic, unreliable, and irrational. There is an ongoing political pressure to slow down the UK's entry into the EU.

      Ireland, on the other hand, has done extraordinarily well with European integration, and the Irish pound has been replaced by the Euro.

      • by mESSDan (302670)
        The fact that Ireland has done extraordinarily well with European integration is probably NOT why it is using the Euro. Ireland has had more than its share of problems with the English, and probably welcome any changes that lead it away from English dependence.
        • The Republic of Ireland as a political entity has reasonably amicable relations with the UK, and its monetary policy is almost certainly not dictated by a need to distance itself from London. Ireland's current economic success depend partially on a very well-educated but less expensive English-speaking workforce, and some good economic policies. Ireland could have maintained its old currency and still have not a whit of dependence on the UK - it might, however, have lost its strength as a bridge between the European and the US economies.
    • Re:Simple question.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:07PM (#2770558)
      Not really, before the euro, the deutchmark was the most stable currency. Remember 199x (x &lt 5), when the British pound was forced out of the EMU (monetary union) by Soros (amongst others). At that time, which was not too far in the past, the pound was the weakest currency, a state they shared with the Italian lire.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The UK opted out of joining the party back in the early 90s while the Conservatives were in power. The current 'New' Labour government has promised a referendum - they want us to join the Eurozone but prefer to leave it to the voters to take the blame for either joining or staying out.
      The UK government's policy right now is that we should join the Eurozone "when the time is right" and "when certain conditions are met". The media are now bored with asking what the conditions are, because Blair refuses to state the conditions, just in case we happen to meet them, and then he'd have to make a decision.
      Personally, I think Blair will wait about 6 months so that we can see that the Euro hasn't blown up in French and German faces, and then he'll set a date for the referendum.
      Current opinion polls suggest us Brits don't want to adopt the Euro. However, I'd guess that 90% of the public are clueless about the implications, and all they see are rabid tabloid headlines that make it look more like a Martian invasion than a currency change.
      The primary objection from those in the know is that losing the pound means losing control over setting interest rates. The primary objection from those without a clue is the change from pounds and pence to using Monopoly money.
      • by orangeguru (411012)
        Well, Europe and the Euro work flawlessly without the Brits. I wonder if the same can be said about the tea suckers without the euro?!

        I am german and I lived in London for some time - I am always surprised how much propaganda wars are fought around anything european/EU.

        The normal Brit would gain a lot and pay less, if those high prices would come down a bit.

        For example: cost of living (food, electricity) - even buying a simple CD (are Madonna CD is a Madonna CD no matter where you buy it) are extremly overpriced compared to the continent.

        But I guess the british like it exclusiv?!
    • by MosesJones (55544) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:31PM (#2770663) Homepage
      Is one answer, there are others, our economy is out of step with that of Europe, we have very different tax rules.

      But IMO as a Brit the real reason is that we hate the fact that someone else came up with a better idea. Personally I can't wait to use the Euro in the UK as then it will make getting a mortgage or a loan from A.N. Other country much easier and I can pick the rates in a much more competative way.

      The next few years should be great for the UK as we aren't going into recession (touch wood) so we'll hopefully steal a march. We could steal a much bigger march as the strongest fish in the Euro.
      • Me as a German and having lived in the UK, I thank God that there are Brits in the EU. Because without the Brits the EU would have gone to hell in hand-basket. Sure the Brits sometimes challenge too much. But very often the Brits are a sounding board of reason. If the EU were mainly run by Germany and France there would be NO EU!!!!

        So maybe this with the Brits sitting it out may be a funny thing. But eventually things will be different. Until then the EU would do well to listen more often to the Brits...
    • Re:Simple question.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @05:17PM (#2771292) Homepage
      Why did Britain (the country with the most stable currecny) opt out of using the Euro?

      Because of the internal divisions in the Conservative (Tory) party.

      The history is that the Major government took over from Thatcher after she had been governing the country for 11 years and had become amazingly unpopular. The economy was in a mess and headed for a recession, people were fed up with crackpot schemes such as the poll tax, unemployment was high and the public services were collapsing. In many ways the 1992 election was similar to the 2000 US election, the right won an election that on all political calculations they should have lost. But they did so on a minority of the vote and with a very small majority in the Commons.

      One of the reasons Thatcher had become unpopular in the party was that she had become anti-European and had refused to countenance going into the then ERM, a currency board that predated the Euro. When Major as Chancellor finally persuaded Thatcher to let him take the country in the pound was unrealistically high. This then led in part to the economic crisis that would peak a few years later in 1993. a bunch of speculators led by Goerge Sorros realised that HMG could not sustain the pound at its then level in the ERM, it was simply unsustainable. But Major and co refused to countenance a devaluation. Finaly the markets won and the pound fell out of the ERM. This had the immediate effect of ending the recession caused by an over-valued pound. The cost however was the Major government's credibility since they had spent $20 billion trying to sustain the higher level - equivalent to the cost of running the air force at the time.

      The longer term effect was that a sizable faction in the Tory party began to use anti-Europeanism as a means to snipe at Major. A hard core of about a dozen rebels lost the party whip, but they had a large number of sympathisers. More importantly they were better organized in the constituency parties which are typically racist and reactionary.

      In the 1997 election the Tory party was virtually anahilated, loosing 200 seats. That is their worst performance since universal suffrage. As always in the UK the MPs to loose their seats were the ones in the most marginal constituencies. These were also by and large the ones that were industrial rather than agricultural and as a result the ones most likely to have Europhile MPs.

      By 1997 there was no prospect of the UK entering the Euro in the first wave even thought the pragmatic Blair administration supported the idea. That meant that there was no prospect of entering in that parliament. By now the Tory party was virulently opposed to the Euro and had made it practically their only campaign issue. If there was a referendum and the Tory party was to win a No vote it could easily allow the Tories to recover their lost momentum, possibly winning the next election. The political cost of negotiating to enter the Euro was consequently high and the benefit negligible since it could not be completed in one parliament.

      The political calculation at this point is rather different. It now makes little difference whether the UK joins in 2003 or 2008, having missed the opportunity to set the ground rules the UK might as well watch what happens. The current Euro exchange rate is absurdly low and so a more equitable exchange rate to the pound and dollar is likely to sort itself out. It is likely that HMG will choose that moment to declare some form of currency peg. Over time the peg will become more permanent leading eventually to the UK entering the Euro.

      The political advantage to doing so early remains low, the cost high. This is particularly so since 60% of the UK media market is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, an Austrailian with no particular concern for the UK or its inhabitants but a considerable and justified fear of the European Union curtailing his ambitions through anti-monopoly (trust) regulation.

      • by Asic Eng (193332)
        No disagreements, just want to add something here: One of the results of having not joined the Euro, is that the European Central Bank is now located in Frankfurt, instead of London.

        London is the number one financial place in Europe, it would have been pretty hard for another country to get this institution, if Britain had joined right away.


  • ...is that there are already reports of homeless people saying, "Willing to spare a Euro?"
  • by Therlin (126989) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:12PM (#2770586)
    I was able to get a hold of a couple Euros and I took a picture with the only bill I had at home at the moment (a $2 bill)

    Picture of a 5 Euro bill, 10 Euro bill, 1 Euro coin [fhsu.edu]

    They are pretty cool looking.

    • I want my money to look like a MS Software License too!!! :)

      Actually those look really cool.. I wonder why the US keeps this drab, slashdot theme with the currency.. I know! lets convert to the Euro too! :)

      I wish I understood the principles of economics.. I didn't have any classes in school about it (That i was awake for, long story).. I'm sure there is one or fifty /.ites (/.ians?) who would be willing to share their totally objective view.. i just have to say something inflammatory and utterly unfounded.. lets try this:

      The US could transition over to the Euro overnight! It would have NO impact on our economy, and would make the world a better place, fostering peace between nations.. and bill gates would have another economy to help!

      okay. that should do it.
      :)
      • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:41PM (#2770712) Homepage

        Well, there are certain advantages to having your own currency. The big thing is that interest rates, and the exchange rates are adjusted to your economy, not somebody elses.

        Witness what's happening in Argentina right now. They pegged their currency to the U.S. dollar - in all practical terms that means they adopted the U.S. dollar. But the U.S. dollar kept gaining value as the American economy grew, so that Argentinian exports became too expensive and the economy suffered. A free-floating Peso would have devalued to keep things in balance.

        This probably won't happen in Europe because European countries have been integrating their economies over the last half decade. With common regulations, and free-flowing goods, the economies should grow (or shrink) together. As long as that's true things should work out.

        • Clarification (Score:3, Insightful)


          Just to clarify the parent poster's point, it is theoretically possible for everyone in a country to reduce all of their salaries and government benefits to compensate for their
          decreasing productivity. However, it is generally impractical to get everyone to agree to do this in sync, while it is trivial if not automatic if that country has a separate currency.



          The situation in Argentina is a bit different, because part of the problem is that the government claimed to back its currency with more US dollars than they actually currently have.

        • by rcs1000 (462363) <rcs1000 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @03:47PM (#2771011)
          Well.. I'll (almost) pass on the Argentina situation. Argentina does not have the US dollar as a currency. Indeed, it is considering 'dollarisation' where it does adapt the dollar as a currency. Right now, it has a currency board with insufficient reserves to support its chosen exchange rate with the US$ given:

          (1) Argentina's budget deficit
          (2) its large (private) US dollar borrowings, and

          (3) modest US$ export earnings

          In this situation, Argentina becomes a sitting duck for currency speculators. Irrespective of the 'true' value of the peso, it is near impossible to maintain the value of the currency. Add in a crazy political situation (most of the public sector deficit in Argentina is from *local* government - where politicans are from different political parties to central government, and hence much to gain from embarassing the central government...). Result, chaos. And that's even before a long running recession, supply-side inefficencies, etc.

          Back to Europe.

          There is an economics theory called 'optimal currency zones' which makes much the same case you do: how can the central bank pursue a coherent monetary (ie interest rate) policy, when the different countries that make up Europe have such different economies?

          We don't know.

          Only experience will tell. But one thing seems forgotten: the US has widely differing economic areas. How closely correlated are tobacco farming in Virginia, car manufacturing in Detroit, optical networking in San Francisco and investment banking in Wall Street? When car making is suffering from Japanese competition, it might seem to make sense to devalue the Detroit dollar - yet no-one has ever suggested breaking the US into regional currencies.

          And the advantages of a single currency are huge: greater price transparency for consumers, lower inflation from greater competition, lower long-term interest rates, etc.

          Most importantly of all: work or not, <b>everyone</b> should hope the Euro is a success. Neither the US, the UK, nor Asia will benefit from an economically weak Europe.

          And I'm really looking forward to getting hold of my first Euro notes and coins when I go to France on Friday!
        • They pegged their currency to the U.S. dollar - in all practical terms that means they adopted the U.S. dollar. But the U.S. dollar kept gaining value as the American economy grew, so that Argentinian exports became too expensive and the economy suffered.

          Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar as its national currency in March, 2000, and now, according to the Economist [economist.com], "Ecuador is now Latin America's fastest-growing economy, its GDP set to expand by over 5% this year. Much of the social unrest of recent years has died down."

          When a country can't control its own monetary policy, it is more likely a symptom of a serious problem, not a cause.

      • by snake_dad (311844) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:53PM (#2770770) Homepage Journal
        Hmm... overnight? That hurt, you flaming [fill in the blank]! :-)

        I really, really hope for you that your country never switches currencies. These past 2 years, and especially the last couple of months have been hell, putting a lot of effort in adapting some real old software packages to a different currency, converting millions of records to the new values, dealing with rounding errors, and trying to find out where critical errors may come up.

        The economy will not be affected very much imho, but for us IT people it has not been fun.

        btw, you were right. That did it indeed :-)
    • The official Euro site [ecb.int] has images of all of the paper [ecb.int] and coin [ecb.int] Euro currency, as well as in-depth information. Particularly interesting is the fact that each participating country has its own design on the reverse of the coins.

      Here is another official site [eu.int] with plenty of info and images.

  • conversion (Score:2, Redundant)

    by qqtortqq (521284)
    1 euro is equal to the following: Austrian Schillings = 13.7603 Belgian Francs = 40.3399 Dutch Guilders = 2.20371 Finnish Markka = 5.94573 French Francs = 6.55957 German Marks = 1.95583 Greek Drachmas = 340.750 Irish Pound (Púnt) = 0.787564 Italian Lira = 1936.27 Luxembourg Francs = 40.3399 Portugese Escudo = 200.482 Spanish Pesetas = 166.386
  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:24PM (#2770629)
    First we have international trade and monetary agreements like nafta, european union, european common market and the upcoming north and south america trade zone. How far away are we from a one world federal union? Europe is already moving to a common legislature and and some common agencies like approving corporate mergers.

    I think in the next 20 years as trade zones evolve we will see the union of trade zones until there is true free world trade. Then in our lifetimes we may see the start of a common world government.
    • Yeah, except that there is no large base of popular support. That's a real sticking point.
    • The oversight committees and policy boards of a conglomerate-state EU are completely beyond the oversight of individual voters in the respective member nations. Progress? Sure, if you consider bureaucracy progress. Once again, the Americans got it right here - a weak President, with the real power resting on locally elected officials.

      The EU on the other hand is governed by the same socialist leftovers who fled from elected politics in member nations years ago.

  • by wavecentral (442848) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:26PM (#2770642) Homepage
    Interestingly enough, each member of the EU has a series of euro coins for their own countries. Sort of like how the US has produced quarters for different states. It's quite nice and still perserves the autonomy.

    Also, an interesting note, is that the EU states will still need to produce their own stamps but put them in the EURO currency pricing, which will be nice for collectors and more autonomy.

    FYI, I was over in Germany for three weeks and spoke to a couple of folks about how they viewed the EURO. Alot of the older folks were worried about how non-assest items will be valued. For example, appraisals. Something that use to be appraised for 5.500 DM, will it be assessed at 2,811 EUROS come a couple months down the road?
    • How does it preserve autonomy? It lulls people into a perception that the currency is 'local' to their country; nothing more.

      The euro means the economies of the member states are regulated as a whole, not individually.

      I, for one, am thankful I got the opportunity to spend some Pesetas and Escudos, and Punts before the Euro was brought in. The different currencies really were one of the beautiful and wonderful things about travelling through europe.

      Now, of course, the euro WILL make travelling easier.
    • You should notice that Euro coins from different countries all have the same frontside. The backside is covered with national symbols. So you won't have to look twice to recognize an Euro coin no matter where you are in Europe.

      HOWEVER things like the alloy and weight are not really specified. And this is likely to cause a mess with vending machines, scales and counting machines.
  • the coin route (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stone Rhino (532581)
    Its interesting to see that they issued a 1 euro coin from the start, as canada does with its dollar, rather than attempting to introduce a coin later, as the united states has unsuccessfully tried to do again and again with first the silver dollar and then the golden dollar.
    Since 1 euro coins are likely to see more circulation than larger denominations, it makes sense to use coins, because coins will last longer and so have lower replacement costs.
    • Regarding the 'unsuccesful' attempt to release a coin in the US.
      To release a $1 coin successfully, all you have to do is... drumrolll please... make coins, and stop making $1 bills. Period. Instant success.

      Silver dollar? Golden dollar? What were these? Actually putting $1 worth of gold in the mix for the coin? Or are you referring to something else.
  • I just have one question about this switch--since they are all using the same currency, how does the currency become devalued in one country?

    All of these countries have different values to their money; some of them are currently very strong, and others are currently very weak. So what happens to your Euro when you go from say Ireland to Italy? Do they just inflate/deflate the price of goods/services to compensate?

    I'm honestly not sure how it will work, since there is no longer a currency exchange between these countries. Is it just me, or does this seem like it's not the brightest idea on the surface??
    • All of these countries do not have different values to their currencies - exchange rates have been fixed against the Euro since jan 1 99, IIRC. The Euro is supposed to help price transparency, ie, comparing apples in italy to apples in france.

      ostiguy
    • It's no different from the different states in the US: people, goods, and services can move freely among different states, but their laws and the economy are still different.
    • Your perception that some currencies are weak/strong is wrong.
      THe member countries of the Euro have had their currencies locked together for at least a year now (I think more than that, but I don't know for sure). Their values relative to each other, do not flucuate at all. Money markets have been trading the Euro for a long time now; it's only the presence of the physical cash that is changing today.

      The whole point is that the member countries move together, not separately. Due to the nature of the Euro, it CANNOT devaluate in one country and not another. As for goods/services, yes, of course... it's still supply/demand.
      Withiin the EU, people can travel, work and live in other countries, etc... It's becoming a large customs zone, where once you are in, you are free to move about as you please. You'll notice your first stop in an EU country when going to europe, you will have to clear customs. After that, you are relatively free.. you may have to show a passport, but that's it.
  • How the coins look (Score:2, Informative)

    by sekra (516756)
    The coins of the different countries have different pictures on their back. Follow this link [bundesbank.de] for an overview of the back sides of the euro coins.
  • Euro for Debian (Score:2, Informative)

    by Outlyer (1767)
    For those of you lucky enough to be running Debian, it was announced yesterday that Euro support is available. The announcement is here: http://www.debian.org/News/2001/20011231 [debian.org]
    And the HOWTO is here: http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debian-euro-supp ort/ [debian.org]
  • I did a quick search on Google, and found this site [cs.tut.fi] that explains how you might get the symbol to appear. It's not ASCII, but it is part of unicode 2.1.

    The page claims that if you are using LaTeX 2e, \usepackage{textcomp} gets the right character set, and \texteuro gets the symbol. I tried it, and it works.

    Now, does anybody know how to get the American symbol for cents?

  • by Xouba (456926) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:42PM (#2770720) Homepage

    Well, being one of the 300 million affected, I just thought that I could karma whore a little and get an "informative" mod by telling you (the non-european or non-affected-even-if-european people) a few issues that arise in real life with this change :-) Let's hope not to be another of a million messages about this O:-)

    • First, I suppose that you don't really imagine what this change means for every Joe European's day-to-day life. In Spain, 1 euro is 166.386 pesetas. There's a few rough equivalences, like 6 euro = 1000 pesetas, but anyway it's quite tricky to know, for example, how many euros are 135 pesetas, or how many pesetas are 4.27 euros. And many people (me, at least) need to know that equivalences in the first days, to make an idea about what you are paying.
    • Given this difficulties, every government has tried its best to inform every citizen about the equivalences, how to use the euro ... and has made available a kind of "calculators" that consist in a little plastic piece that shows euros and their equivalences in the local currency, to be used by everyone. They're pretty cool, if someone is able to take a photo of any and post it, please do :-)
    • The devil is in the details, as they say, and in this case the devil is in the rounding. As I said, 6 euros are roughly 1000 pesetas. But that's not exact: 6.01 is more precise. This doesn't mean anything in "cheap" things, but if you're going to buy a car ... There's a lot of concern about the way that commerces are going to apply rounding, as many think that they're going to raise prices to make them more "euro-compliant".
    • Most of the prices were already both in euros and local currency since months ago, so everyone could make an idea about what prices were going to be like in euros (a cinema ticket is about 4 euros in "spectator's day", for example). But anyway, in my personal experience, nobody looked at the prices in euros, so the impact of this measure is, for me, doubtful :-) Anyway, bussiness have to work in euros from now on, and most of them were already prepared when year's end came.
    • There's no 25 cents coin. Someone tell me why, because I don't understand it. Specially since a coffe here is about 125 pesetas, which is roughly 0.75 euro. We've got 2 and 20 cents coins, but anyway, I don't know why there're no 25 cents coins.
    • As someone already said, the coins are pretty cool :-) A few of them are in two colors, and have a face with a local design and the other with a common european one.
    • There's more, but I don't recall anything specially interesting now, so let's hope that another one with a better english and memory can say something more fulfilling ;-)

    • by Rob Kaper (5960) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @03:46PM (#2771003) Homepage
      And many people (me, at least) need to know that equivalences in the first days, to make an idea about what you are paying.


      No, no, no. Don't calculate back to pesetas, francs and guilders for the rest of your natural lifes.


      Write down twenty things that you often buy: a weeks worth groceries, CDs, DVDs, whatever. Write down a resonable price in your old currency. Convert. Learn and remember the new decent euro price.


      Instead of calculating back to guilders whenever I buy a DVD, I will have remembered that ?25 to ?30 is a reasonable price. That is by far the easiest way to get used to the new currency.

  • by snellac (314920) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:43PM (#2770726)
    I own a chain of stores here in London, and after several meetings with lower management, we have decided to not accept the Euro currency in favor of the pound from foreigners. We came to this conclusion for several reasons, which make both economic and political sense for a store dealing mainly in jewlery such as ourselves.
    • The Euro costs us £0.50 to exchange for every transaction made. That's right, the banks charge us to convert our money back into pounds! They don't charge at the consumer level, just merchant to merchant, so we mandate consumers do this on their own, or pay via another means.
    • The new anti-counterfeit measures contained in the Euro. This may seem like a good thing, but the larger Euro demoniations contain coils electromagnetically charged to a certain serial number. This can thus be tracked, and as much as consumers are worried about their privacy, merchants are worried about ours in respect to competitors.
    • The attitude here in London is mostly anti-Euro, as Brits object to this new prospect of a continental government. We've been independent for this long, and under no means do we want to be governed by someone higher than the Parliament
    • The conversion rates fluctuate constantly. What's to say that one day, we charge 500 for a gold ring, and then going to the bank to exchange it, it's then worth 90% of that? That's lost money to us. We can't afford to be dealing in currency fluctuations. Both the pound and the US Dollar are stable enough to be dealing with, but I won't put my corporation's trust into the Euro.
    Businesses like mine are doing the same thing. I can't find a single business here in London Square willing to redeem Euros for face value. So, when you come to London, be sure to bring your plastic, or redeem it for pounds.

    -snellac

    • by Sanity (1431) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @03:02PM (#2770808) Homepage Journal
      The new anti-counterfeit measures contained in the Euro. This may seem like a good thing, but the larger Euro demoniations contain coils electromagnetically charged to a certain serial number. This can thus be tracked, and as much as consumers are worried about their privacy, merchants are worried about ours in respect to competitors.
      Er no they don't, didn't you see the article here just a few days ago about how they were considering doing this, but didn't expect to see it before 2006?
      The attitude here in London is mostly anti-Euro, as Brits object to this new prospect of a continental government.
      Speak for yourself, there are many in the UK who are pro-Euro.
      We've been independent for this long, and under no means do we want to be governed by someone higher than the Parliament
      Such as, um, the WTO? Or perhaps the US government who seems to be making the decisions about how the UK uses its military these days?

      This is such a short sighted view point. Only through cooperation can European countries have a say in world affairs, the UK, a country of about 60 million people, will be ignored in the face of trading blocks of 300 million people and upwards.

      Sooner or later, the UK will come crawling into the Euro with its tail between its legs, and feeling rather stupid.

    • by charlie (1328) <charlie@antipop e . org> on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @03:19PM (#2770889) Homepage Journal
      "The attitude here in London is mostly anti-Euro, as Brits object to this new prospect of continental government. We've been independent for this long, and under no means do we want to be governed by someone higher than the Parliament" --

      It is precisely this attitude that makes me ashamed to be British.

      Vive la EU!

      Seriously:

      There's a widespread assumption in the UK, and most widespread among the Euroskeptics, that we are unequivocally better than everyone else and that their ways of doing things are worse.

      I don't buy it. Doing someone else down is the nastiest expression of patriotism, and usually conceals a narrow-minded reluctance to scrutinise one's own actions.

      Yes, the banking currency-conversion objection is valid: and so are the issues to do with non-anonymity of large-denomination notes.But the exchange rate doesn't fluctuate wildly -- the Pound is typically locked to within +/- 0.1% of the Euro.

      Personally, I'm looking forward to using the same currency whether at home or abroad. And I'm looking forward to the opportunity to vote for tighter integration with the EU.

    • With regards to tracking the serial number:

      The only way I can see someone tracking you via a Euro is this: you go to an ATM to withdraw money. The bank knows you and can read the Euro as it is dispensed. You spend the bill. Assuming the merchant deposits all cash to their bank, the bank could resolve the bill from the merchant to the bill dispensed from the ATM assuming it is the same bank or banks share info. This is only likely for large denominations since smaller ones may be tendered as change. Once changed hands, any tracking data is bogus unless the merchant themselves are tracking the euros coming in and going out.

      Every US bill has a serial number too, just not magnetically encoded. It would be quite easy to build a box that scans in US bills and reads the serial number. I believe cash is still the best anonymous tender. Magnetic encoding doesn't change anything.

      Just food for thought.

      -tim
    • Sweden is not in Euroland either, but most major, country-wide shops have already announced that they will accept payment in Euro, mostly as a service to customers (after all they want to attract all customers, also foreign ones).
      They are not likely to list prices in Euro however, since the SEK<->EUR exchange rate is not fixated and the list prices would have to be changed almost every day, which of course would be impractical. But payment in the converted Euro amount will be entirely OK. A lot of smaller shops are expected to follow this policy, used by the bigger ones, and allow payment in Euro.
  • Debian Euro HOWTO (Score:2, Informative)

    by int0x80 (234172)

    /* FIXME: insert some clever comment about this brilliant HOWTO and mention how useful it is */

    Debian Euro HOWTO [debian.org]

  • by Jacco de Leeuw (4646) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @02:54PM (#2770773) Homepage
    I tried three cash machines this morning (there were queues, people are enthousiastic apparently) and one of them had an error. I don't know whether it was out of bills or there was some bigger problem.

    Then I tried the recharging stations for the (chipcard based) debit card called "Chipknip" (similar to Proton in Belgium and Geldkarte in Germany). Two out of three malfunctioning.
    Now, these chipcards are not used very much by the general public. But the thing is, banks have promoted it a lot lately, because it would make the transition easier. The banks should have done a better job if they are really serious about this.

    Also, I have a device which I can use to recharge my chipcard at home. I connect it to a phone line and then it makes a connection with the bank.
    I noticed that from now on I can recharge it with 25 euro as a minimum. Previously the minimum was about 10 euro. I wished they had maintained that minimum amount.
  • The funny thing with the new Euro coins is: the thailand coin of 10 baht is almost the same in size and weight as the 2 euro coin. So when a cigarettemachine accepts 2 Euro coins, it most definitely will also accept 10-baht coins and will recognize them as 2 Euro. 10 Baht is roughly 20 eurocent in value, so it's very worth it.

    It's so odd that they came up with a design of a coin that looks so similar to a foreign coin with so little value compared to the eurocoin.

    Anyone's planning a trip to Thailand soon? :)
  • by El Cabri (13930) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @03:25PM (#2770916) Journal

    When banknotes where first introduced over 17th to 19th century, they were viewed as certificates that a certain bank (usually a single "central bank" per country), would exchange for something of tangible value (usually an equivalent in coins made of precious metal). After WWII a monetary system was introduced in which the USD was the only bill pegged to gold, and other currencies were floating against it. The emptyness of the Fed's gold reserve and the oil crisis broke that system in the 70s, replaced for the first time by the complete floating of all currencies agains each other, with none pegged to any tangible good, and the IMF playinga pivotal role of watchdog to ensure this balance does not diverge.

    But the USD became used so widely in international transactions, that it became the de-facto standard against which the currencies values were measured. This gave a huge technical priviledge to the US : the USD could be ridiculously cheap, as it was in the early 90s (when a USD was worth the equivalent of about 0.80 euros in the european currencies of the time), without making holders of USD poorer, since the price of goods on international markets was labelled in USD, giving the US industry an artificial competitive advantage.

    Conversely, the USD could be ridiculously overpriced, such as in the mid 80s when it was 25% more expensive then it is now compared to European currencies, making it easier for the US government to finance a huge deficit, while still being able to sustain an abysmal deficit in the balance of payments (since creditor institutions used USD as their reserve currency)

    The main economic sense behind the euro is to take away part of that privilege from the US, by making Europe a zone where internal business could be made without any influence of the USD's values. Actual euro banknotes allows banks around the world to actually stash the currency, and makes the integration irreversible, and hence more reliable.

    So the US has been considerably opposed to Europe monetary integration, and have worked hard, with their British sidekicks, to make it not happen. Actually the changeover might be seen as the biggest thing that has went in the face of US national interest in the last 30 years, maybe since the end of WWII.

  • Euro symbol in HTML (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @03:34PM (#2770953) Homepage
    € is preferably expressed using the HTML character escape "&euro;". Browsers back to at least Netscape 4 understand this. Use of the HTML escape is preferable to using a character code greater than 128, which is font-dependent. Most current HTML editors, like Dreamweaver, will insert "&euro;" from the "insert symbol" menu, rather than using a character code greater than 128.
  • by wiresquire (457486) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @05:02PM (#2771249) Journal
    The biggest thing that will happen initially will be that the Euro will appreciate. This is simply because of supply and demand. And initial euphoria of a happy new year!

    But the bigger threat is inflation. It's simple and happens anytime there are changes to standard pricing schemes, be that a GST/VAT, exchange rate, whatever.

    • Manufacturers don't want to receive less than what they've previously been getting. So they round up.
    • Distributors don't want to receive less than what they've previously been getting. So they round up.
    • Retailers don't want receive less than what they've previously been getting. So they round up.
    It all gets passed on to the consumer (me). Now I need more money to pay for this, so I ask for a raise....That's the classic price/wages spiral.

    Economics 101 says that inflation is inversely related to the exchange rate. So that means if inflation goes up, then the exchange rate will go down.

    As Germany (the driver of EU commerce), has just officially gone into recession, this inflation pressure is going to be a serious confidence issue in the Euro. As the currency depreciates, there will be the "I told you so" bleating...

    Britain, by not taking part of the Euro, is best placed to benefit in the short/medium term. Short term means less than 2 years. Medium term means 2-5 years in financial circles - IT has different time lines.

    The only thing that concerns me is the effect this has on the German economy. If there is serious inflation over short/medium term, this could all come undone. If there's not, and the German economy kicks in during this period, then the Euro will take off.

  • Notes from Frankfurt (Score:5, Informative)

    by hughk (248126) on Tuesday January 01, 2002 @05:49PM (#2771410) Journal
    I live just outside Frankfurt am Main, home of the European Central Bank [ecb.int]. I mostly do systems work for financial securities houses and exchanges. I am a Brit with experience of living and working in various EU countries as well as further afield.

    The exchanges and markets have been working in Euros for the last year. This makes a unified market within the Euro-zone countries. However, until we had a real currency, there was a crisis of confidence.

    I duely went out and got my 20DM worth of Euro coins in December. This was part of the so-called familiarity and to try to front-load the system to help with the problem of small change.

    A couple of days ago, I had a guy at a bookshop at Frankfurt airport try to pass me off with two 10 year old banknotes of a withdrawn design. I objected because the notes could only be changed at a bank, and he gave me modern notes. The old bank notes were in very good condition and probably genuine, but I still refused.

    Well I was out last night, spending Deutschmarks in a pub all night. Did I rush out to get my Euros, no as I anticipated a queue at the cash-points. I stayed away from the ECB because I didn't like the crush.

    In the morning, I noted that the region transport company, the RMV [www.rmv.de] seemed to have a lot of ticket machines out of order. However, I was able to get money from an ATM w/o queueing and without problem.

    We are relatively lucky in that the exchange rate is set close enough to 2 at 1.95583. However, the retailers have been given a little too much leeway in setting their prices, so there is a lot of retail price inflation (already apparent during December). In France, they introduced a price freeze for three months to prevent this.

    In real terms, it will probably start being useful on my next ski-trip. No more currencies to worry about apart from the Swiss Franc, and already, some resorts in Switzerland are saying that they will accept the Euro. Many have been taking Deutschmarks and French Franks already for things like lift-passes.

    I expect that there may be some problems tomorrow when the first real business day for the shops starts, probably with availability of change as the public have practically none. Shops should give change in Euros, even if you spend DM.

10 to the 12th power microphones = 1 Megaphone

Working...