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4959: Re: devaluation of the gourde (fwd)

From: Martha O'Brien <mobfa1@scotus.sfcpa.edu>

It has occurred to me a number of times over the past year that 
what is being referred to as the devaluation of the gourde may have 
more to do with the strength of the dollar than the weakness of the 
gourde.  For example, when the gourde was more or less 15 to the 
dollar, the French franc was about 5 to the dollar.  When the 
gourde was about 18 to the dollar, the French franc was about 6 to 
the dollar.  Although I have not checked recently, a visitor from 
Europe just told me that the dollar is currently fetching about 7 
francs.  I will be the first to admit that I am far from an expert on 
economics, but it seems to me that ratios of 5 is to 15 as 6 is to 
18 as 7 is to 21 must mean something.  Maybe it means only that 
the French franc has been devalued at the same rate as the 
gourde.  However, my French friends refer to the strength of the 
dollar, not the devaluation of the franc.  As a matter of fact, when I 
was in Haiti in May and June, my Haitian friends referred to the 
strength of the dollar rather than the devaluation of the gourde.

Obviously, such semantics do not make the economic plight of 
poor Haitians any less difficult--that is not my point.  But it might 
help put a less pessimistic spin on the situation--less pessimistic 
and less, well, derogatory, I think.  Sometimes the approach 
seems to be almost "Geez, the country has got itself in such a 
mess that the currency is going right down the tubes."  Maybe--but 
maybe there's another explanation.