The European way
by Tommy Jasmin

Hello everyone -

I just got back from a trip to Europe yesterday, and was hoping Dave or Dean Albanese would have a new marketplace report available that I could easily plop in for this month. Such is not the case, so I'm forced to write with no time to think. Not a first, but usually I'm going on at least some rest.

Given the circumstances, I decided to comment on how much superior I found the European currency system to the United States system. Of course I'm talking about the Euro here, which given the strength recently, compared to the dollar, made for an expensive trip, but that's not the point. Disregard relative value and exchange rates for the moment. What I really liked was how intuitive and easy it was to make purchases.

The system follows a pattern: 1, 2, 5, then it repeats. Since a Euro is made up of 100 cents, there are coins with denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. One and Two Euro coins start the 3rd pattern repetition, followed by 5, 10, 20, and 50 Euro notes. The pattern then repeats again with 100, 200, and 500 Euro notes. I found using the one and two Euro coins to feel very natural. The lowest denomination paper money is the 5 Euro note, so for common things like a cup of coffee you often needed no bills, just pocket change. In practice, the 1 and 2 cent coins are almost never used, as people consider them pretty much a nuisance, and usually round to the nearest "nickel".

I think this explains why the U.S. One-Dollar coin and Two-Dollar bills never catch on here. It's simply because they are not mandatory. As long as people have choice they will typically stick with what they were always used to, and people here are used to using the silly and wasteful (they don't last very long) one-dollar bills.

The money system was just one of many aspects of European life that made it tough to come back to our supposed greatest country in the world. For a short time the government seemed to make sense, people were nice, the pace was acceptable, and life was good.

Until next month,

Tommy is subbing this month our for usual contributor - David Albanese, a Nostomania coins advisor. Albanese Rare Coins can be reached at their outstanding web site.

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