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Currency May Change More than Prices
Brennan, The Irish Times (centrist), Dublin, Nov. 16,
Have you ever whooped
with delight because you looked at your payslip and thought
somehow you had received a pay rise that nobody had bothered
to tell you about? Only to be brought sharply down to earth
when you realise you were looking at the euro equivalent and
that you're being paid the same old salary as in the previous
month? Or maybe you're one of those people who stupidly complained
in a restaurant that you were overcharged, only to be acutely
embarrassed when it is pointed out that you were looking at
the euro amount. This has never happened to me but I'm sure
it has happened to somebody.
This is the problem with the euro for Irish people - it gives
the impression that one has a lot more money than is the case.
The Republic is the only one among the 12 member-states of the
euro zone where the currency is worth more than the euro, thereby
making the conversion amount greater. So, many of us are going
to wake up or go to beddepending on how we celebrate the
New Year on Jan. 1with more money in our accounts, which
is probably unusual for most people after a night on the town.
Some people are going to become millionaires overnightwell,
those with 787,564 Irish pounds in their piggy banks. That amount
in Irish pounds will bring you across the magical EUR1 million
barrier. So get saving. You have less than two months. Imaginea
whole spate of millionaires overnight, without having to suffer
the nerve-shattering experience of sitting through 15 questions
on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
On the subject of game shows, it might be advisable to get on
to Who Wants to be a Millionaire? before January
1st. Why? Because if after euro day, the million is EUR1 million
as opposed to (pounds) 1 million, your winnings are going to
be proportionately less than the pre-January 1st, 2002, winners.
Unless, of course, the title of the programme is changed to
Who Wants to be a One Million, Two Hundred and Sixty Nine
Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Eight euro Winner?the
euro equivalent of (pounds) 1 millionbut that title is
not just as catchy, is it?
We may grumble about euro confusion. But spare a thought for
our fellow Europeans when they wake up on January 1st. Imagine
the momentary feeling of horror an Italian might sense, seeing
mere hundreds rather than tens of thousands in his or her bank
account. The lack of zeros after the principal figure could
be very disconcerting indeed. So, to a certain extent, we Irish
can count ourselves luckythe appearance of having more
money is always a much more preferable experience to the feeling
of having your savings wiped out.
Of course, the euro will impact on every aspect of our lives.
The psychological effects of the introduction of the euro could
be enormous. Will pound shops become EUR1.27 shops or will they
become euro shops? Gone will be the familiar chant of Moore
Street fruit sellers: "Apples, four for a pound."
It could even impact on our speech. In time, the phrase "a penny
for your thoughts" could disappear from use. If you use that
phrase in 15 years' time to a 15 year old, he or she will probably
give you that same puzzled look 15 year olds give you today
when you talk about your recordrather than CD collection.
"What's a penny?" they'll ask you. "It's worth just over one
cent in the new money," you can tell them.