Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dropping Euro: Doh Curse of the Homer (Simpson)?

The recent and rather dramatic fall in the value of the euro from heights previously uncharted is attributed by pundits to any number of things: (1) the Eurozone looks like it's about to enter recessionary waters, if it isn't there already; (2) the commodity price boom which has favoured the euro is coming undone as global demand for commodities slows in response to ebbing consumption in the world's #1 final destination market, the United States; (4) the US stock market has regained its footing somewhat, bolstering the beleaguered dollar. Certainly, sensible arguments can be constructed out of one or more of these points.

On the wackier side of things, however, have I got one for you. Curses are most often spoken of in sports, where superstition is rife. For the Chicago Cubs, you have the Curse of the Billy Goat. For Japan's Hanshin Tigers, there's the Curse of the Colonel. As you would expect, currency trader are generally a less superstitious lot. While the business world has its own set of rituals like the opening bell that augurs a new trading day and whatnot, out-and-out superstition does not feature much. However, I recently came across a fairly amusing article in Reuters about a Spanish shopkeeper who, while tallying up his day's labours, came across a doctored euro coin. One of the interesting things about euro currency is that EU members can place their national symbols on one side of locally minted notes and coins even if they are usable elsewhere in the Eurozone.

Lo and behold, the image of the generally well-liked Spanish King Juan Carlos had been replaced on the one pound coin by the likeness of that famous American icon, Homer Simpson [!] In the report, it is said that the shopkeeper told of his finding last Friday. If you look at the chart above, the looooong red line represents Friday's trade when the euro lost a whopping 3.3 cents in a single day. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

The discovery of this act of desecration may have set off forces beyond the reach of monetary officials or currency traders. Superstition aside, I lie in wait for a good opportunity to rid myself of my remaining dollar holdings as I am a firm unbeliever in the monetary and fiscal policies of the United States (more on this later). The euro may take some lumps in the meantime that will enable me to find a good price at which to sell dollars and buy euros. Maybe a cartoon character had something to do with it:
A one euro coin has turned up in Spain bearing the face of cartoon couch potato Homer Simpson instead of that of the country's king, a sweetshop owner told Reuters on Friday. Jose Martinez was counting the cash in his till in the city of Aviles, northern Spain, when he came across the coin where Homer's bald head, big eyes and big nose had replaced the serious features of King Juan Carlos. "The coin must have been done by a professional, the work is impressive," he told Reuters. The comical carver had not taken his tools to the other side of the coin displaying the map of Europe. So far, no other coins of the hapless, beer-swilling oaf have been found in circulation.

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