FEAR OF FINANCE
Saturday 05 August 1995
The idea seems to be that under a market-led solution all member currencies would become legal tender in all the member states. That way we could continue to think in pounds and pee, pay in pounds and pee and keep pounds and pee in our pocket, so that we could reassure ourselves that we remain British and all is well with the world.
A brilliant British compromise, I hear you cry. It takes a British central banker to come up with a masterstroke of compromise like that. They are known throughout the world for compromise. And solving problems. After all if there is one thing which infallibly calms the most rabid Eurosceptic it is the words "market-led," pronounced with calm authority.
The market, of course, can do no wrong, and would expect good money inevitably to drive out bad. You know, Gresham's Law, surely you haven't forgotten that? Or was it the other way round - bad money drives out good? It was? Oh well, it was the 17th century. Some things are bound to have changed since then, like magnetic north and feminism.
Perhaps it will bring back the hard ecu, the common currency invented by a shrewd young chap called John Major back in 1989. That was going to co-exist with all the member currencies and chameleon-like would adopt the strength and character of whichever one was most inflation-proof at the time. Instinctively people would be drawn to reject the weaker and less attractive notes and coins and only the strong would survive.
But while the modern market sorts out our collective currencies, can you imagine the chaos it would cause if even half a dozen currencies circulated in parallel? Will parking meters be obliged to welcome those five peseta coins that returning holiday-makers from the Costa Brava used to use to jam up the British meters? Will bus conductors who used to take exquisite pleasure in rejecting Irish pennies be forced to take marks and francs, and take their revenge by giving change in drachmas and escudos?
Those Aussie barmen who, like grey squirrels, seem to be driving the native English species out of their natural habitat will have to add a new dimension to their repartee. "Let's see cobber, blue/guv or madam, that's two (imperial) pints of best, five cheese and onion. That'll be six pound 75. Oh, you've got Luxembourg francs? No problem. That'll be 310.50 francs, or I could take 200 and those Danish krone I see in your other hand. Oh sorry no, that's Swedish kroner you have there. Can't take them, they're not in the Community you know. Hold your horses over there, it's your cultural heritage I'm saving."
It's enough to bring about a demand for the cashless society to be introduced at once.
Simon Read: The point of having protection insurance? The right cover can help reduce your financial concerns at a time of extreme worry
19 December 2014 07:30 PM
In May Nicola Groves got a massive shock. The 45-year-old mother of two was told, bluntly, that she had breast cancer. "When I heard the words, 'You do have breast cancer and you are going to lose your breast', I felt as if time stood still," she says.
19 December 2014 07:30 PM
It's that time again when the media looks back over the past year and forward to the next. I am reminded of an old film, The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). Near the end of the film a newspaper prints two headlines – which one it uses will depend on whether the world is saved or doomed.
12 December 2014 05:42 PM
The supermarket banks have always excelled at offering simple, no nonsense products, and savings accounts is another area in which they fare well
12 December 2014 06:17 PM
The sun is shining on people who struggle to heat their homes and it’s thanks to a sense of community
12 December 2014 06:23 PM
Struggling people need help, understanding and forbearance, not ill-thought-out pronouncements
12 December 2014 06:20 PM
You won’t find me bashing the banks for the sake of it, but sadly they’ve deserved all the criticism that’s been sent their way in recent years
12 December 2014 06:02 PM
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice: 'The injustice of shock bills for crime victims must end. The Government must stand up for consumers and cap bills from lost or stolen phones at £50'
12 December 2014 05:57 PM
Stirring the pot: the Indian Government’s reforms of labour rules offer hope of a brighter future for businesses
12 December 2014 05:53 PM
Knight of the road, look out: you’ve got a new rival
06 December 2014 12:00 AM
Simon Read: The Chancellor has stamped on an unfair tax. But will the delight of homebuyers mean misery for others?
06 December 2014 12:00 AM
Were you surprised by the sudden reform of the rules for stamp duty on property purchases? I certainly was. I've been calling for ages for a change in the tax to make it more fair – and, at a stroke, George Osborne did just that on Wednesday in his Autumn Statement.
29 November 2014 12:00 AM
21 November 2014 04:33 PM
With some people are weighing up whether they will be better off cashing in their final salary pension next spring, Samantha Downes asks the experts
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