Greece

If this is Greece, what lies beneath? WYSINWYG. The one piece of ice that’s been drifting around very closely to this beast is Turkey. They should have included it in the Euro zone when things were good. Now, I doubt if the Turks will ever swim close to this thing. Cold Turkey, really. Incidentally, which is the country with the highest per capita holdings of gold? China? India? Greece? Its Turkey. China & India’s consumption may be high but Turkey’s growth in consumption is staggering – according to the World Gold Council, demand rose by 32.6% in 2011 compared to the previous year. Both their government as well as the people there are worried about the future. So while many emerging counties’ central banks are loading on gold as a hedge against inflation that the US Fed exports out to them, India seems to be a little bit too big to do that. Lots of money will be needed to buy more and more of the expensive gold and that would mean printing INR that’s getting cheaper in value (and therefore more costly to print) by the day. Considering that inflation will not be allowed to rise up any more than what it has in the past given we are soon going to be entering into the election year it looks like a catch 22 to me. Is my logic correct?

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Rupee’s “stable” symbol

It was good to see our currency getting a formal symbol in the midst of all talk and nervousness about inflation. While D. Udaya Kumar scrawls himself into history’s books for designing the symbol, I have my own take on the symbol and what is symbolises. Some people felt that using Devanagiri script is anti-non Devanagiri India and I feel that they are loco. My problem is that Ms. Ambika Soni used the design to explain the underlying stability of the Indian currency. What stability? I am not able to understand. Inflation is running so very high and controlling the currency is like riding (and trying to tame) a wild horse. I am a bit slow in these things.

But what I do know is that some of the factors that determine currency stability are : A) enough liquidity and cushioning in the local banking systems, B) the accompanying political landscape is stable, C) inflation is under control, D) legal systems are strong. If these ingredients are not in synch, the currency may topple over. Since symbols represent the inherent qualities of a currency and since the currency is a barometer of the strength of an economy, let’s use reverse logic to check if the chosen symbol for the INR does indicate stability. Let’s at least check if the symbol chosen for the INR is stable in the first place. We’ll might also take a look at the stability factors of the major world currencies while we are at it.

The concept of center of mass, borrowed from physics indicates the center of any shape, however weird it may be. If you make a 3 dimensional solid out of any basic shape, such a shape should be able to spin around it’s axis – and keep spinning if friction were absent. In the real world, friction and restraining forces constantly act on physical bodies. Let’s examine each major currency symbol (click on symbol to magnify), as if it’s 3 dimensional figure were standing on the world platform and see how it respondes to forces of inter-country friction, asset bubbles, financial profligacy, etc – all being represented by the testing forces of friction (cost of being a world currency on the world platform) and gravity.

JPY GBP INR USD EUR
Stable. But one nudge and it’ll topple over left or right – i.e. to China or the U.S.A Very stable!! Stodgy and just may not budge. Won’t be able to withstand it’s own weight. Will topple over Stable. But one nudge and it’ll topple over. Already fighting it’s 200DMA Will fall down right. If only the horizontal railroads began from further left.

I recommend that you do not take such advise when initiating positions on currency movements! BTW, you don’t have to be a financial whiz kid or a professional trader to initiate positions in world currencies. Just your decision to take up a job in India’s software industry makes you terribly short on the INR. 

Anyway, I like the symbol – whether it is stable or not. I like it since the Big B has requested that it be featured in the logo of the next edition of his show – KBC. I like it despite the fact that it looks like a bastard child borne out of the union of the Devanagiri Ra and the Latin R. I like it despite the fact that it gave me a kink in the neck. I wanted to see if there is some Dan Brownish hidden symbolism in it’s meaning. I craned my neck up and down, held up my laptop at weird angles for that aha! moment but all I got was a sprain in my neck. See, there is massive hidden meaning in the symbol of the EUR. What happens when you tilt the EUR by 90 degrees? You get something similar to this! Hinting at the intrigue and various games that the continent has always been a stage for. Then there was that story of the WTC attack being foretold in a USD 20 dollar bill.

Actually, if you are lean that way and incline yourself physically that way as well, you might just spot this in our currency symbol. Hardly something to associate free capitalism with! 🙂

But considering the fact that cigarettes, tulips, spices, cows, et al have all served as good currencies in the past, I do not think we should have any problem with this tilted masterpiece.

Symbolism apart, the real concern that should play on the minds of our policymakers is the runaway inflation that’s on us at the moment. I was in Mumbai over the weekend and just could not believe the amount I had to pay for just 250 grams of okra, a kilo of tomatoes, a suspicious looking floret of cauliflower. Around a 100 INR! Prices of food and related stuff are increasing @ 20% per annum. So are costs of education and medicine. Eating out has become crazily expensive. So, what I am saying is that the INR is not fiat currency. Far from it. Just that inflation is making things difficult. Very difficult. And the people in charge need to change many more things than just the symbol of the INR.

Did you know that the Vietnamese currency is known as the Dong? And that frugal Vietnamese women really know how to stretch one to the hilt? 😐 The symbol for their currency looks a bit sexual as well.

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