Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh, Euro

There is a big focus and scrutiny of the Euro these days. Many analysts are wondering if the decade-old mega-currency can actually survive this economic downturn. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and any other countries ready to step forward with their massive debts, have all cast a pall over their common currency. This leaves many questions for Poland, which is currently not in the Eurozone.
The Euro: The next world currency? Or resigned to the dustbin of economic history?

Poland, which was aiming to go over to the Euro in 2012 (just in time for the Euro Cup) probably won't any time soon. I can't blame them. It makes economic sense; many credit the Zloty for helping Poland be the only EU country not to head into recession.
See, the weakness of the Zloty makes Polish goods cheaper to foreign buyers, even for other EU countries (which use the Euro.) While a struggling country, like Ireland, has seen its costs of production rise with the Euro's strength, Poland's remain relatively low. It's the same strategy that the Chinese are using. Companies have responded by shifting a great deal of production to Poland (Dell, for one, moved its massive computer plant from Limerick to Lodz.) Poland and the Czech Republic recently overtook Italy for the amount of cars produced. The exchange rate of the Euro-Zloty can also have a effect on tourism. With the rise of the Euro against the dollar, the Americans have found that it's becoming more expensive to visit the typical places like France, Spain, and Italy. Tours to Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe (including Russia) have risen over 100% since the recession began. Medical tourism is also a small cash cow; many Germans pass over the border for dentist visits and such (don't expect many Brits to do that though; they just come for the strippers.)
A weak Zloty is not all good news though, it makes things like foreign imports (energy especially) more expensive. But, with all this production shifting to Poland anyway, that might just deaden the blow; that, and the fact that the Poles have accepted that foreign stuff is going to cost an arm and a leg.

Talking to people on the street, one may get the sense that they aren't really looking forward to the Euro. Many believe it will drive prices up (see: Cappuccino Effect) and that wages won't follow. Not all are against it, the Government is pro-Euro as are some businessmen. The cost of intra-European trade would decrease and become stable and predictable. Ask a Pole on the street what the greatest benefit the Euro would bring, and the answer would be, "I wouldn't have to change money when going to Ireland/Germany/Italy."


pinolona said...

Britain doesn't have the euro either and we certainly didn't avoid the recession...

PolishMeKnob said...

Britain also had the financial institutions that were exposed to the collapse, which caused problems.

Britain also has the Pound Sterling, which is valued more than Euro. I tried to explain how the weakness of the Zloty allowed Polish goods to be cheaper in relation to both the Euro and the Pound (and the Dollar.) Much the same with what China does with the Yuan. In fact, the US is throwing a big fit over the fact that China doesn't allow the Yuan to appreciate in value.
There are other theories to why Poland was able to avoid recession, and I'll certainly write about them (they include EU money flowing into Poland, plus spending to build stuff for the Euro 2012.)

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