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Vocapedia > Economy > Money, Currencies




Paul Combs

editorial cartoon

The Tampa Tribune


17 January 2008



















Don Wright

editorial cartoon

Palm Beach , FL


18 December 2008


Uncle Sam















money        UK


















money        UK










money        USA










blow money        USA










money philosophies        USA










Big Money        USA


















big money        USA












make big money        USA










moneyless man / My year of living without money










make money        UK







make money        USA







run out of money        UK






run out of money        USA






wholesale money market





London interbank offered rate        Libor        UK        2012


What is Libor?


Libor is the main setter of interest

in the London wholesale money market






Libor rates        UK


Libor rates are set

by the demand and supply of money

as banks lend to each other

to balance their books on a daily basis.






make money










money-driven culture





money pinch        USA






'making monkeys'        UK






easy money





pocket money





value for money





dime        USA






income        USA






windfall        UK










windfall        USA







































dark money        USA

























dirty money        UK










launder dirty money        UK






dirty money        USA






blood money        USA






hush money        USA












money laundering        UK






money laundering        USA











black market















put money away / save





savings        UK






savings rate





saver        UK
















cheque        UK










check        USA

















The Royal Mint        UK













The U.S. Mint        USA










mint        UK










coin / token        UK





















coin / token        USA














dollar coin        USA










penny, pennies        USA












forge / fake        UK










counterfeiting        UK




















Freshly Squeezed by Ed Stein


June 30, 2014















cash        UK










cash        USA













USA > New Jersey > Atlantic City > Casinos > cash cow        2014        UK










cashless society        UK












cashless / My year of living without money        UK        2 June 2010










cash register        USA










cash cow








wads of cash








Automatic Telling Machine    ATM

( parody: Always Taking Money )
























decimalisation        1971






































































trillion        UK / USA























greed        UK / USA































Illustration: Daniel Pudles


The Guardian        p. 21        12 July 2005


















currency, currencies        UK















currency > bill        USA






the world's reserve currency > dollar        USA






common currency > euro        USA






value        USA






currency war







currency crunch        2008







currency converter





























UK > Sterling / pound / quid / £        UK / USA











































weak pound        UK










£50 note        UK


A new £50 note featuring Alan Turing,

the scientist best known for his codebreaking work

during the second world war,

has been unveiled by the Bank of England

and will go into circulation on 23 June,

the date of his birth.


Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952,

and an inquest concluded

that his death from cyanide poisoning two years later

was suicide.


The Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey, said:

“I’m delighted that our new £50

features one of Britain’s most important scientists ...


He was also gayand

was treated appallingly as a result.


By placing him on our new polymer £50 banknote,

we are celebrating his achievements

and the values he symbolises."









pound coin / pound note        UK





0,12269,1349777,00.html - 1984








UK > five-pound note / £5 note / fiver        UK / USA














a two-dollar pound





coppers and silver





1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins





£1 or £2 coin




















paper currency        USA






banknote / note        UK










Winston Churchill plastic £5 note

ends trail of paper money    G    2 June 2016






tenner / £10 (col)        UK






dollar bills        USA








$20 bill        USA








historical figures on the $5, $10 and $20 bills






$100 bill
















debit card fees        USA







credit card








contactless credit card        UK






Apple Pay /  Apple’s smartphone payments        UK






credit card fraud        USA






debit card fraud        USA







The Secret History of the Credit Card

Aired: 11/23/2004        56:07

Expires: 10/20/2016

Rating: NR


The surprising history and clever tactics

of an industry few Americans fully understand.





















Renminbi (Yuan)















convert ... into N






fall to a three-week low against N





fall to yet another record low against the euro










at a money exchange bureau















silver        2008



















Andrzej Krauze


The Guardian        p. 17        18 April 2005


Allure of the blank slate:

Naomi Klein

From Aceh to Haiti,

a predatory form of disaster capitalism

is reshaping societies to its own design


























USA > US dollar /  the greenback        UK / USA




















































weak dollar





dollar peg        USA














slip against the Yen





cede some ground to the Japanese yen





creep up against the euro





greenback        USA






bill        USA






$2 bill        USA






buck        USA



















A. Krauze

editorial cartoon


Budget blues

The Audit Commission

says the government's supported housing programme

is in danger of failing vulnerable people.

Do the experts agree?

Interviews by Matt Weaver        The Guardian        Society        p. 6

Wednesday October 19, 2005


























chugging, or street fundraising        UK


















Halifax ad.


The Guardian        p. 12        8 November 2008
















Corpus of news articles


Economy > Money, Currencies




Banks to Make Customers

Pay Fee for Using Debit Cards


September 29, 2011

The New York Times




Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, said on Thursday that it planned to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee when they used their debit cards for purchases. It was just one of several new charges expected to hit consumers as new regulations crimp banks’ profits.

Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month, while SunTrust, another regional powerhouse, is charging a $5 fee.

The round of new charges stems from a rule, which takes effect on Saturday, that limits the fees that banks can levy on merchants every time a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. The rule, known as the Durbin amendment, after its sponsor Senator Richard J. Durbin, is a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.

Until now, the fees have been 44 cents a transaction, on average. The Federal Reserve in June agreed to cut the fees to a maximum of about 24 cents. While the fee amounts to pennies per swipe, it rapidly adds up across millions of transactions. The new limit is expected to cost the banks about $6.6 billion in revenue a year, beginning in 2012, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. That comes on top of another loss, of $5.6 billion, from new rules restricting overdraft fees, which went into effect in July 2010.

And even though retailer groups had argued that lower fees were important to keep prices in check, consumers were not likely to see substantial savings. In fact, they are simply going to end up paying from a different pot of money.

Or as Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, put it after passage last year of the Dodd-Frank Act, “If you’re a restaurant and you can’t charge for the soda, you’re going to charge more for the burger.”

Chase is now charging customers for a paper statement. It also, like many other banks, scrapped its debit card rewards program. And customers that Chase inherited from Washington Mutual no longer enjoy free checking accounts.

The bank is also exploring a number of other fee increases, including for online banking, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Bank of America’s debit fee is steeper than most of its competitors’, reflecting the broader challenges the bank is facing after the financial crisis. The bank has introduced an online-only account that charges customers for doing business at a local branch. It also plans to apply its new debit card fees to anyone who uses the card to make recurring payments like gym fees or cable bills.

Citibank is one of the few that said it would not introduce a charge for debit card use. “We have talked to customers and they have made it abundantly clear that ‘if you charge me to use my debit card, I would find that very irritating,’ ” said Stephen Troutner, head of Citi’s banking products. Still, the bank has made it more difficult to qualify for free checking, among other moves.

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo estimated that the Durbin rules would cost the bank $250 million in revenue every quarter. It hopes to make up half that gap with a variety of new products and customer fees, including the monthly debit card fee of $3. The change is part of a “pilot program” the bank will begin on Oct. 14 in five states across the country, including Washington and Georgia. As of Saturday, the bank will discontinue its debit card rewards program.

Meanwhile, HSBC said that it recently increased an A.T.M. fee — to $2.50 from $2 — for certain customers when they used a competitor’s A.T.M. It also recently introduced a debit transaction fee of 35 cents, though the first eight transactions are free.

And at TDBank, customers will now have to pay $2 for using A.T.M.’s outside their network.

“Durbin essentially moves the cost of debit away from merchants, and now it’s more focused on consumers,” said Beth Robertson, director of payments research at Javelin. “There are all sort of things happening where banks are saying, where can we put fees in place for our service to generate revenue or how can we reduce our costs?”

Over the last few years, consumers have increasingly shifted their spending to debit cards from credit cards, in large part to curb their spending. But some analysts predicted that the new fees could prompt consumers to return to credit cards — a more lucrative alternative for the banks.

Consumers have already begun to react to the changes.

Patrick Shields, 48, said he had decided to leave Citibank, where he has held a small-business account for his residential window cleaning business since 1986. He was contemplating opening a personal checking account, but realized he could do better at a credit union.

“At the credit union, they opened it free of charges, which Citi could not and would not do,” said Mr. Shields, who noted that a personal checking account would have cost more than the one he uses for his New York business. “Now I have both accounts covered, and I am fee-free.”

The so-called Durbin rule quickly emerged as one of the thorniest provisions of Dodd-Frank, touching off a long and furious fight in Washington. Wall Street dispatched an army of lobbyists to tame the rule, ultimately yielding mixed results.

In June, the Senate defeated a measure that would have delayed the new rule. But just three weeks later, the Federal Reserve decided to cap the fees at 21 to 24 cents for each debit card transaction, a much lighter blow than once expected.

In a statement on Thursday, Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said that small businesses would benefit from the new limits. “Swipe fee regulation will still allow banks to cover the actual costs of debit transactions but will rein in the banks’ excessive profit-taking.”


Ann Carrns contributed reporting.

Banks to Make Customers Pay Fee for Using Debit Cards,






As Plastic Reigns,

the Treasury Slows

Its Printing Presses


July 6, 2011

The New York Times



WASHINGTON — The number of dollar bills rolling off the great government presses here and in Fort Worth fell to a modern low last year. Production of $5 bills also dropped to the lowest level in 30 years. And for the first time in that period, the Treasury Department did not print any $10 bills.

The meaning seems clear. The future is here. Cash is in decline.

You can’t use it for online purchases, nor on many airplanes to buy snacks or duty-free goods. Last year, 36 percent of taxi fares in New York were paid with plastic. At Commerce, a restaurant in the West Village in Manhattan, the bar menus read, “Credit cards only. No cash please. Thank you.”

There is no definitive data on all of this. Cash transactions are notoriously hard to track, in part because people use cash when they do not want to be tracked. But a simple ratio is illuminating. In 1970, at the dawn of plastic payment, the value of United States currency in domestic circulation equaled about 5 percent of the nation’s economic activity. Last year, the value of currency in domestic circulation equaled about 2.5 percent of economic activity.

“This morning I bought a gallon of milk for $2.50 at a Mobil station, and I paid with my credit card,” said Tony Zazula, co-owner of Commerce restaurant, who spoke with a reporter while traveling in upstate New York. “I do carry a little cash, but only for gratuities.”

It is easy to look down the slope of this trend and predict the end of paper currency. Easy, but probably wrong. Most Americans prefer to use cash at least some of the time, and even those who do not, like Mr. Zazula, grudgingly concede they cannot live without it.

Currency remains the best available technology for paying baby sitters and tipping bellhops. Many small businesses — estimates range from one-third to half — won’t accept plastic. And criminals prefer cash. Whitey Bulger, the Boston gangster who lived in Santa Monica for 15 years, paid his rent in cash, and stashed thousands of dollars in his apartment walls.

Indeed, cash remains so pervasive, and the pace of change so slow, that Ron Shevlin, an analyst with the Boston research firm Aite Group, recently calculated that Americans would still be using paper currency in 200 years.

“Cash works for us,” Mr. Shevlin said. “The downward trend is clear, but change advocates always overestimate how quickly these things will happen.”

Production of paper currency is declining much more quickly than actual currency use because the bills are lasting longer. Thanks to technological advances, the average dollar bill now circulates for 40 months, up from 18 months two decades ago, according to Federal Reserve estimates.

Banks regularly send stacks of old notes to the Fed, which replaces the damaged ones. Until recently, notes were simply stacked facedown and destroyed, as were dog-eared notes, because the Fed’s scanning equipment could not distinguish between creases and tears. Now it can. In 1989, the Fed replaced 46 percent of returned dollar bills. Last year it replaced 21 percent. The rest of the notes were returned to circulation where they may lead longer lives because they are being used less often.

The futurists who have long predicted the end of paper money also underestimated the rise of the $100 bill as one of America’s most popular exports.

For two decades, since the fall of the Soviet Union, demand has exploded for the $100 bill, which is hoarded like gold in unstable places. Last year Treasury printed more $100 bills than dollar bills for the first time. There are now more than seven billion pictures of Benjamin Franklin in circulation — and the Federal Reserve’s best guess is that two-thirds are held by foreigners. American soldiers searching one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in 2003 found about $650 million in fresh $100 bills.

This is very profitable for the United States. Currency is printed by the Treasury and issued by the Federal Reserve. The central bank pays the Treasury for the cost of production — about 10 cents a note — then exchanges the notes at face value for securities that pay interest. The more money it issues, the more interest it earns. And each year the Fed returns to the Treasury a windfall called a seigniorage payment, which last year exceeded $20 billion.

To meet foreign demand, the Fed has licensed banks to operate currency distribution warehouses in London, Frankfurt, Singapore and other financial centers.

In March, largely because of the boom in $100 notes, the value of all American notes in circulation topped $1 trillion for the first time.

In the United States, research suggests that the spread of electronic payment technologies is steadily reducing the share of payments made in cash. Drivers use E-Z Pass at toll plazas for roads and bridges. Commuters swipe stored-value cards at turnstiles. Christmas stockings are stuffed with gift cards.

Mr. Zazula, the restaurateur, made his decision in 2009, inspired by a flight on American Airlines, which had just introduced a no-cash policy. He said that 85 percent of his customers already paid with credit cards, and taking cash to and from the bank was a nuisance and security risk.

Two years later, Mr. Zazula said he had no regrets.

“You still have some people that are outraged that we won’t accept cash,” he said, “but most of it is a show because they end up having a credit card.”

But Commerce remains a rarity. Experts on payments cannot name another no-cash restaurant. Snap, a cafe in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, rejected cash in 2006, then reversed the policy a few years later.

Businesses are not required to take cash. The famous phrase “legal tender for all debts” means that lenders — and only lenders — are required to accept the bills. But most merchants don’t see the point in frustrating customers.

“It’s a rarity for a retailer of any size to go cash only, and it’s a rarity to decline to accept cash at all,” said Brian Dodge of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a trade group.

Even the financial industry, which has promoted the spread of electronic payments, has moved away from grand predictions.

“There’s always going to be some people, for good or nefarious reasons, who want to use cash,” said Doug Johnson, vice president for risk management policy at the American Bankers Association. “I’m glad I had it yesterday,” Mr. Johnson said. “I blew out a fan belt on my car, and it’s nice to be able to give the tow driver a twenty.”

    As Plastic Reigns, the Treasury Slows Its Printing Presses,
    NYT, 6.7.2011,






Where Cash Registers Go

to Get Their ‘Ka-Ching’ Back


March 10, 2009
The New York Times


The hair dryer whines. Brian Faerman aims. Hot air blasts into a cash register that is about as old as he is, which is 46.

That is old enough for the cash register to have black-and-white numbers that go up and down, not a green, glowing electronic display. That is old enough to have rows of buttons — 10 for cents, 10 for dimes, 10 for dollars and 10 beyond that. So to ring up a $29.95 special, you have to press four separate buttons, one by one. This is the kind of machine that is slow. It is thoughtful. It is onomatopoeic. Ka-ching. But it is not ka-chinging the way it is supposed to. It is not ka-chinging at all. Hence the hair dryer.

“Steel holds cold,” he says. “Machines, they need to be warm to work.”

This machine resides on a dusty shelf in a store on the Bowery, between Broome and Delancey Streets, that still sells and repairs cash registers. Once the Bowery was cash register heaven. Beneath the old Third Avenue el, among the restaurant supply stores and the flophouses and the down-and-outers who lived in them, stores trafficked in cash registers.

Now Mr. Faerman’s father, Bernard Faerman, an old man whose hair turned white in this store, is remembering, and counting. “There were five within a radius of five blocks,” says the father, who is 86 and still comes in most days.

The son remembers another store. The father, busy poking a screwdriver in a cash register, remembers another, and another. Hit the total button, check the receipt: a grand total of eight, gone now.

The father says the Bowery has always been a barometer. The son says, “The Bowery told what was going on — what happened here happened later everywhere else.”

It is tempting to say, glibly, that what happened is that the others cashed in, that they made a big profit from the real estate boom that remade skid row when there was mortgage money to be borrowed. Maybe they did, maybe they did not.

The Faermans’ neighbors now include a bank turned catering hall, the scene of benefits running $500 a person and up. Or, walk a few blocks to a Whole Foods store. It’s a pricey neighborhood these days. Bernard Faerman says stores rent for $15,000 a month. Brian Faerman says it is more than that. They own their building, and the son says it is not for sale.

Their shelves are filled with “tombstones” in different colors: orange, gold, copper, blue, black, silver. Tombstones are what bartenders call the tallish, slender machines that ring up beers and martinis and the occasional burger. The Faermans sell new electronic machines, too, but it is these old ones that are prized by restaurateurs who want that old-fashioned look behind the bar.

A walk down the aisle at their store is like a little archaeological expedition. The cash registers show the last total they rang up: 00.55 on that one, who knows how long ago; 50.76 on this one. That one over there still packs a mean stomach punch when the drawer flies open.

One machine, the kind that a lot of barber shops used to have, has a bumper sticker: “1986 N.F.C. Champions — Giants.” They won the Super Bowl that season, too, defeating Denver, 39-20, in January 1987.

That was nine months before a stock market collapse. Bernard Faerman says recessions are good for business. “We make more money in recession times than in good times,” he says. “When people get laid off, they go into any kind of business, starting up, and they need a cash register.”

The son says, “That’s what I’ve always been told.”

What about now? Are they seeing customers who are starting out on their own? “Not yet,” he says. He talks about banks that do not lend and a nation that does not save the stuff that goes into the drawers of the machines they deal in. If only the economy could be fixed in a day or two, with a handful of tools and a hair dryer.

“There’s a way certain things were made,” Brian Faerman says. “National Cash Register was probably the greatest manufacturing company in the world. Not only did they make their own machines; they made their own tools. They made things the best, and that’s why these old things still work. It’s a sad thing. Things are made cheap now.”

    Where Cash Registers Go to Get Their ‘Ka-Ching’ Back, NYT, 10.3.2009,






Op-Ed Columnist

Where the Money Is

January 13, 2009
The New York Times


A trillion here, a trillion there ...

President-elect Barack Obama is warning us to expect trillion-dollar budget deficits “for years to come.”

The economy is in a precipitous downturn and no one, on the left or right, is advocating tax increases that would jeopardize a recovery.

In the meantime, we’re spending money as fast as we can: the Troubled Asset Relief Program ($700 billion and counting); Mr. Obama’s proposed stimulus program ($800 billion and counting); and important initiatives still to come, like an overhaul of the way we pay for health care.

China, which has purchased more than $1 trillion of American debt, is getting antsy. As Keith Bradsher of The Times has reported, the global downturn has prompted Beijing “to keep more of its money at home, a move that could have painful effects for U.S. borrowers.”

Mr. Obama has tried to assure the public that his administration will be as careful as possible with its monumental spending, promising to invest wisely and manage the expenditures well. And he has made it clear that he is aware of the minefields that accompany mammoth long-term deficits.

At some point, however, someone is going to have to talk about raising revenue. The dreaded T-word is going to come up: taxes.

Well, there’s a good idea floating around that takes its cue from the legendary Willie Sutton. Why not go where the money is?

The economist Dean Baker is a strong advocate of a financial transactions tax. This would impose a small fee — ranging up to, say, 0.25 percent — on the sale or transfer of stocks, bonds and other financial assets, including the seemingly endless variety of exotic financial instruments that have been in the news so much lately.

According to Mr. Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, the fees would raise a ton of money, perhaps $100 billion or more annually — money that the government sorely needs.

But there’s another intriguing element to the proposal. While the fees would be a trivial expense for what the general public tends to think of as ordinary traders — people investing in stocks, bonds or other assets for some reasonable period of time — they would amount to a much heavier lift for speculators, the folks who bring a manic quality to the markets, who treat it like a casino.

“It raises money in a way that comes primarily at the expense of speculation,” said Mr. Baker. “The fees would be a considerable expense for someone who is buying futures, or a stock, or any asset at 2 o’clock and then selling it at 3. The more you trade, the more you pay.

“For the typical person holding stock, who is planning to hold it for a long period of time, paying the quarter of one percent on a trade is just not that big a deal.”

The fees, though small, could amount to a big deal for speculators because in addition to the volume of their trades they often make their money on very small margins. Someone who buys an asset and then sells it an hour later at a one percent appreciation might feel quite pleased. He or she would be less pleased at having to pay a quarter-percent fee to purchase the asset in the first place and then another quarter percent to sell it.

This, according to Mr. Baker, is part of the beauty of the transfer tax; it tends to curb at least some speculation. “It’s a very progressive tax,” he said, “that discourages nonproductive activity.”

A hallmark of the Bush years has been the rampant irresponsibility — by the White House, Congress and the general public — when it comes to matters of finance. The costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were placed on credit cards and off the books. Their ultimate overall costs will be in the trillions.

Incredibly, President Bush and Congress cut taxes in wartime, which is insane.

Budget deficits and the national debt are streaking toward the moon. And the only remedy anyone has come up with for fending off Great Depression II has been deficit spending on a scale reminiscent of World War II.

Excuse me, but did somebody say the baby boomers are about to start retiring?

Maybe the piper will never have to be paid. Maybe the deficits will someday magically right themselves. Maybe some prosperous future generation will be more than happy to clean up the mess we left behind.

If none of that is true, we should start looking now for some real money somewhere. A stock transfer tax is not a bad place to start.

    Where the Money Is, NYT, 13.1.2009,






Sterling hits record low

against the euro


December 15, 2008
From Times Online
Grainne Gilmore


Sterling tumbled to a new low against the euro today, with some travellers receiving less than €1 for every pound they exchange at airport terminals and train stations.

The euro has risen to a record high of 89.98p, coming close to breaking through the key 90p barrier.

The pound is now at its lowest level since the single currency was introduced in 1999 and has been weakening since the beginning of the year, though the decline has become more marked in recent days as the UK economy worsens.

Britain is regarded, so far at least, to have been hit harder by the global slowdown and financial crisis than the 15-nation eurozone.

This week, new figures are expected to show that UK unemployment is worsening, increasing from 5.8 per cent to 6 per cent, while the number of people claiming jobless benefits is forecast to have risen by 45,000 in November.

Just a few months ago, travellers could be confident of receiving at least €1.15 or €1.20 for each pound, but that amount has fallen to €1 in many foreign exchange outlets.

Sharply falling demand for sterling-denominated assets, such as shares in UK-listed companies, has also helped reduce demand for sterling, which has dragged the pound lower.

But spread-betting companies are reporting a surge in business as thousands of private investors in Britain are joining institutional investors in reckoning that sterling has further to fall.

    Sterling hits record low against the euro, Ts, 15.12.2008,






Sterling hits new record low

against euro


Wednesday, 10 December 2008
The Independent
By Tamawa Desai, Reuters


Sterling hit a record low against the euro and a basket of currencies today as pessimism about the UK economy was reinforced by a think tank report showing a sharp contraction in growth.

The report, which said the nation's economy shrank more than many believe in the three months to November, kept expectations high that the Bank of England will continue to cut interest rates aggressively.

The pound extended losses as British finance minister Alistair Darling told parliament on Wednesday that sterling depreciation would help the country's exporters.

By 1507 GMT, the pound had fallen to 87.83 pence versus the euro, its weakest since the single currency was introduced in 1999.

Meanwhile, trade-weighted sterling fell to 79.7, the lowest on a daily basis according to Bank of England records going back to 1990.

"There's really not much good to say about the pound, although it has already fallen a long way," said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

Given the prospect of lower interest rates and a rising fiscal deficit, "the risks are still clearly to the downside," he added.

Despite sterling's losses against the euro, it rose 0.6 percent to $1.4829 (GBP=) against a broadly weaker dollar on a slight pullback in risk aversion as global shares gained on news of a tentative agreement to bail out US carmakers.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said on Wednesday Britain's economy shrank by a full percentage point in the three months to November and the pace of contraction looked set to accelerate into the end of the year.

"There is every reason to believe that the output decline in the fourth calendar quarter of the year will be larger than one percent in magnitude," it said.

The report came on the heels of dismal data in manufacturing, housing and retail sales on Tuesday, which bolstered expectations that a sharp economic downturn will put more pressure on the central bank to ease rates further.

"Altogether, these readings made a strong case for the United Kingdom ultimately suffering the worst recession in the developed world," Commerzbank analysts said in a research note.

The BoE has cut key interest rates by 300 basis points since October to 2 percent, their lowest since 1951.

BoE policymaker Paul Tucker is appointed deputy governor for financial stability for a five-year term starting next March, and arch policy dove David Blanchflower will step down when his term expires in May, Darling told parliament.

    Sterling hits new record low against euro, I, 10.12.2008,






Money Makes the Political World

Go Around


November 2, 2008
Filed at 11:49 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- What's your vote worth? Because Barack Obama and John McCain can spend about $8 to get it.

Together, the two presidential candidates have amassed nearly $1 billion -- a stratospheric number in a campaign of record-shattering money numbers. Depending on turnout, $1 billion means nearly $8 for every presidential vote, compared with $5.50 in 2004.

And that's just McCain and Obama. All the presidential candidates in the 2007-2008 contest took in $1.55 billion, nearly twice the amount collected by candidates in 2004 and three times the amount from 2000. The total includes fundraising for the primaries as well as the general election.

Using all that cash, the candidates have traveled more miles, employed more workers and advertised more than ever.

But it has been Obama, with his $641 million and 3.2 million donors, who has rewritten the rules for financing campaigns.

He abandoned the public financing system -- after pledging to participate if McCain did -- and became the first major party candidate to raise private funds to pay for a general election since the campaign money reforms of the Watergate era. McCain did take public funds, but Obama's success left little doubt that taxpayer-supported presidential campaigns, as currently configured, are 20th century relics.

Neither Obama nor McCain participated in public financing during the primaries. McCain's acceptance of $84 million in general election public financing also came with limitations on spending. He continued to raise money for the Republican Party, though, which so far has spent about $100 million on his behalf to supplement his public funds.

Obama mastered new technology, turning the Internet into an incredible political networking tool and attracting record numbers of donors giving less than $200. While that flood of money raised new questions about the safeguards of Internet fundraising, it also helped dilute the role of big money donors and fundraisers.

''When you have that many contributors, I think it does, in a weird way, cleanse the system even though it seems like that much more money,'' the Federal Election Commission chairman, Republican Donald F. McGahn II, said recently. ''That many more contributors disperse the influence of any one contributor.''

Some of the financial highlights from the presidential campaign:

The total is almost the same as what the Federal Trade Commission says food and beverage companies spend in a year marketing their products to children.

--Selling politics like burgers: With all that money, Obama has blanketed the country with his message. As of mid-October, he had spent $240 million on broadcast ads to penetrate old battlegrounds and to help create new ones. He spent $77 million in the first two weeks of October, more than McDonald's spends on ads in a month. He pinpointed audiences with ads on such video games as ''Guitar Hero'' and ''Madden NFL 09.''

He also went global, with national network advertising that culminated with a $4 million-plus half hour buy on prime time six days before the election. His spending stretched McCain's resources; the Republican had spent about $116 million as of mid-October.

--Bad apple, bad money: Some fundraisers put campaigns in awkward situations. Barack Obama donated to charity tens of thousands of dollars in donations to his past campaigns that were linked to convicted Chicago developer Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko. Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returned more than $800,000 to donors whose contributions were linked to Norman Hsu, a fundraiser who was wanted in California on charges of bilking investors. Hsu was subsequently indicted in New York on federal charges of fraud and violating campaign finance laws.

--Bundle up some cold hard cash: Perfecting a fundraising practice initially mastered by George W. Bush, presidential candidates enlisted fundraisers to raise thousands upon thousands of dollars for them. These are the well-connected money people to whom a campaign is ultimately indebted. Both McCain and Obama list their fundraisers -- or bundlers, as they are known -- on their Web sites. McCain's are easier to find than Obama's. But unlike McCain, Obama lists the fundraisers' home towns.

--Who are those small donors, anyway: Obama has raised about half of his money in increments of $200 or less. The average contribution is $86, the campaign says. But the success of the Internet fundraising effort has also led to some puzzling donors. Individuals have been credited with giving tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign, far more than the $2,300 limit. Obama has reported more than $17,000 in contributions from a donor identified as ''Doodad Pro'' and more than $11,000 from one identified as ''Good Will.''

''I wouldn't be surprised if the FEC doesn't address this in the next couple of years -- what you have to put on your Web site for soliciting contributions,'' said Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC chairman and a law professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

--I show mine, you don't show yours: Federal law requires candidates to identify only those donors who contribute, in the aggregate, more than $200. But McCain has made his entire donor database available through his Web site. Obama has not, drawing criticism.


On the Net:

Federal campaign finance law: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml

    Money Makes the Political World Go Around, NYT, 2.11.2008,






Financial crisis

Pound falls to five-year low

as Bank head admits

recession is here

• Sterling drops 4% against the US dollar
• King says banking turmoil 'almost unimaginable'
• FTSE 100 drops 2% in early trading


Wednesday October 22 2008
10.15 BST
Graeme Wearden and Ashley Seager
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
on Wednesday October 22 2008.
It was last updated at 10.18 on October 22 2008.


Sterling was hammered down to a five-year low against the dollar this morning after Mervyn King admitted for the first time that the UK is entering a recession.

The pound began tumbling last night as the Bank of England governor told business leaders in Leeds that the economy is shrinking and hinted at fresh interest rate cuts.

By this morning it had fallen by seven cents to $1.6209, a drop of more than 4%. Traders reported frantic selling as investors rushed to cut their losses by selling the UK currency.

Sterling also fell against the euro, losing around 2% to a low of €1.2636 this morning. The euro itself fell sharply against other currencies, hitting a four-and-a-half-year low against the yen, and its lowest value against the dollar since November 2006.

Shares fell sharply in London this morning, with the FTSE 100 shedding over 100 points, or 2.3%, in early trading to 4127.29.

The pound had already been hit yesterday by unexpectedly gloomy manufacturing data showing that confidence has collapsed, and King's comments appear to have added to concern over quite how weak the British economy now is.

Describing the banking system turmoil of recent weeks as "extraordinary, almost unimaginable," he said the financial system had come closer to collapse two weeks ago than at any time in the past 90 years.

"The combination of a squeeze on real take-home pay and a decline in the availability of credit poses the risk of a sharp and prolonged slowdown in domestic demand. Indeed, it now seems likely that the UK economy is entering a recession," King said.

"It is surely probable that the drama of the banking crisis, which is unprecedented in the lifetime of almost all of us, will damage business and consumer confidence more generally."

His fears were confirmed yesterday as the CBI reported that confidence among British manufacturers had tumbled to its lowest since July 1980, with output and orders also collapsing.

The thinktank the National Institute for Economic and Social Research said today that Britain entered a recession in the third quarter of the year and warns the slump will probably last for a year or more, making it every bit as painful as the recessions of the early 1990s or early 1980s.

City commentator David Buik said that King's speech has "put sterling to the sword for the time being".

The Bank of England cut the cost of borrowing by half a point to 4.5% earlier this month, as part of coordinated global action, and King hinted that rates may come down again soon.

"During the past month, the balance of risks to inflation in the medium-term shifted decisively to the downside," he said.

CMC Markets analyst James Hughes said that the possibility of interest rate cuts across Europe have made the greenback more attractive - after months in which traders bet against the dollar.

"Investors continue to flock to the dollar as speculation mounts that central banks elsewhere will continue with aggressive rate cuts in an attempt to stimulate growth in the near term," said Hughes.

Official data out on Friday will almost certainly show that the economy contracted in the July to September period, having not grown at all in the second quarter. A "technical" recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction, which experts say is the least Britain can expect this time round.

    Pound falls to five-year low
    as Bank head admits recession is here,
    G, 22.10.2008,






A Shortage at the Pump:

Not of Gas, but of 4s


July 15, 2008
The New York Times


If one is the loneliest number, then four is the hottest — at least when it comes to gasoline.

With regular gas in New York City at a near-record $4.40 a gallon, station managers are rummaging through their storage closets in search of extra 4s to display on their pumps. Many are coming up short.

That’s why Vishal Nair, who runs the Lukoil station at Eighth Avenue and 13th Street in Greenwich Village, took another plastic number last week, turned it over and scribbled “4” on it with a black magic marker. The result was an obviously homemade “$4.47,” but it would have to do until he received the extra 4s he ordered months ago.

“Typically, we have a lot of 9s and 1s, and we had a shortage of 3s before we got a lot of 3s in,” Mr. Nair said.

The missing digits are an unanticipated barometer of how frequently prices are changing. The average price of regular gasoline in New York City has risen by 35 percent this year, forcing station managers to change their price displays almost every time they get a delivery, which can be daily at some stations.

Franchises often order numbers from their parent companies, though like independent station owners, they can buy directly from sign companies. Sets of 40 include equal numbers of each digit, which are magnetic or slip into plastic holders. Digits, which are often in a Helvetica font, are sold individually for as little as a $1.50. In New York, numbers must be 4.5 or 9 inches tall.

When prices passed $4, many stations ran out of 4s, and managers improvised by photocopying signs or stenciling numbers by hand.

The makeshift digits are legal as long as they are similar to the neighboring numbers, said John Browne, the assistant director of enforcement for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs’ petroleum unit.

“As long as the color and size are correct and it is apparent what the number is, they are fine,” said Mr. Browne, who inspected Mr. Nair’s handiwork last Friday at the Lukoil station.

Jessica Chittenden, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, which regulates gas stations, said inspectors were being lenient because prices were changing so rapidly and because few manufacturers made the signs.

“People are running out of 4s and 5s, so we’re allowing them to post makeshift numbers as long as they are the right size,” she said.

Sanjay Thakker, president of Gasoline Advertising in Clifton, N.J., said that sales of his magnetic digits had risen as much as 20 percent this year, though because it costs only about $10 to outfit the signs above the pumps with enough numbers, the product is not a huge money maker.

Until extra digits arrive, improvising can be tricky. Alex Kubotki, 27, who runs the Exxon on Coney Island Avenue at Caton Avenue in Brooklyn, ran out of 4s for his large sign on the corner. So on Sunday, he painted a fresh “4” that was roughly the same as the manufactured digit, and avoided using a paper number because it might bleed in the rain.

“Everybody’s doing the same thing,” he said.

Even stations in New Jersey, where gasoline prices have only recently breached the $4 barrier, are getting ready. At the Getty station on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen, Jatinder Sarin, the manager, said he will order a bunch of new magnetic numbers next month. He was selling a gallon of regular gasoline for $3.85, but assumed that $4 a gallon was inevitable.

“We know it’s going to go up,” he said. “Usually it goes a digit up, and it stays there five or six months. Let’s hope they stay at 4.”

But back in New York, stations are already grappling with the next problem.

“Now that we seem to be going to go to $5 a gallon,” Mr. Nair said, “we might order more 5s, too.”

In fact, diesel prices are already over $5 a gallon.

On Monday, at a BP station on Coney Island Avenue and Lancaster Avenue in Gravesend, Brooklyn, a “2” had been turned upside down to make a 5 for the large sign on the corner.

“I don’t have enough 5s,” said Serdal Ozumer, 51, a clerk. “I got to talk to the manager.”

Ann Farmer, Daryl Khan and Nate Schweber

contributed reporting.

    A Shortage at the Pump: Not of Gas, but of 4s, NYT, 15.7.2008,






Bush says

strong dollar in U.S. interest


Mon Jun 9, 2008
9:43am EDT
By Tabassum Zakaria


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged economic concerns as he left for Europe on Monday, saying the United States was committed to a strong dollar and that energy prices were high.

"I'll talk about our nation's commitment to a strong dollar. A strong dollar is in our nation's interests. It is in the interests of the global economy," Bush said at the White House before departing for a U.S.-European Union summit in Slovenia.

The dollar tumbled on Friday after a jump in the unemployment rate underscored the U.S. economy's weakness and was a factor that contributed to the biggest one-day price gain in the history of the oil market. Oil surged by nearly $11 a barrel to a record above $139.

Europeans are concerned about the dollar's weakness and have urged the Bush administration to speak up more forcefully in defense of the U.S. currency.

Since oil is priced in dollars, Europeans blame some of their inflation pressures on the dollar's weakening value and fear the cheap dollar will make their products more expensive in U.S. consumer markets.

Bush will discuss the economy with European leaders during his June 9-16 trip, which will include stops in Germany, Italy, France and Britain.

"Our economy is large and it's open and flexible," Bush said. "Our capital markets are some of the deepest and most liquid. And the long-term health and strong foundation of our economy will shine through and be reflected in currency values."

He said he recognized the public was concerned about the U.S. economy in the face of rising energy prices.

"A lot of Americans are concerned about our economy," Bush said. "I can understand why. Gasoline prices are high, energy prices are high."

He said he would discuss with European allies the need to advance technologies to become less dependent on hydrocarbons. Bush reiterated his stance that the United States should increase domestic oil production and that Congress should allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Record-high oil prices have raised concerns about the impact on the U.S. economy, which is barely growing. The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May, its highest in more than 3-1/2 years, contributing to renewed fears that the U.S. economy was at risk of sliding into recession.

"The U.S. economy has continued to grow in the face of unprecedented challenges," Bush said.

"We got to keep our economies flexible. Both the U.S. economy and European economies need to be flexible in order to deal with today's challenges," he said.

Bush said he also would discuss with European allies the need to do more to help Afghanistan. His wife, Laura, visited Afghanistan during the weekend and reported that she saw progress but also "there's a lot of work to be done," Bush said.


(Editing by Bill Trott)

    Bush says strong dollar in U.S. interest, R, 9.6.2008,






The currency crunch:

British tourists pay price

for euro's strength

Today a euro is worth 80p,
an all-time high against the pound.
Bad news for British holidaymakers –
but are there more serious consequences
of living next door to the world's strongest currency?


Thursday, 10 April 2008
The Independent
By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

Tens of millions of British people will experience their own credit crunch on holiday this year as the soaring value of the euro forces them to pay more for everything from the price of a coffee in a Parisian cafe to a hotel room in Barcelona. As currency traders pushed the European single currency to a record high against the pound yesterday, holidaymakers were coming to terms with the fact they now have almost a fifth less spending power on the Continent than a year ago.

The 17 per cent fall since last February has come about as the euro has powered ahead on the strength of its member economies, while the pound has slumped, most recently because of the knock-on effects of the sub-prime collapse in the US.

The euro's new high of 80p, reached in early trading yesterday, came after the International Monetary Fund warned that UK growth would only hit 1.6 per cent this year, compared with the Government's claim of up to 2.25 per cent.

The euro's surge may spur new theories from economists that the currency of the eurozone will become the main international unit of currency as early as 2015, upsetting almost the best part of a century of dominance of the dollar.

For holidaymakers, however, the collapse of the pound has an earthier reality that will curtail their spending power in shops and restaurants in Ireland and on the Continent. In practice, it means spending money of £500 earmarked for eating out, trips and presents is now worth only £415 in the 15 eurozone states.

The 42 million foreign holidays a year that British people take are influenced by affordability and, during the past two years, the cheap dollar has lured thousands of Britons to stock up on designer jeans and iPods in New York.

However, the majority of foreign holidays, some 31 million, are taken in the eurozone and going there – and staying there – has become markedly more expensive.

As a result of the currency fluctuation, a family weekend break to Disneyland in Paris that would have cost £456 last year costs £533 this month. A day's car rental in Vienna that would have set back a Briton £56 now costs £67.

And those expecting to savour a meal for two Ferran Adria's acclaimed El Bulli restaurant in Spain will find the experience has risen in price from £195 to £236.

Many people who had been hoping to go on holiday to France or Spain may be forced to change plans and stay at home instead.

Others may look for cheaper destinations outside the eurozone, such as Bulgaria or Croatia.

The Association of British Travel Agents said yesterday that the rise of the euro might prompt the growth in journeys to Turkey and Egypt as well as long-haul trips.

At home, the surging euro will apply upwards pressure on much that we import from the Continent, from cheese to cars, though retailers may take some of the pain.

But there will be a sign of relief from British companies battling to export their goods as their products become cheaper in the 15 euro countries.

After a shaky start in 1999, when the economies of the 11 participating states were lurching downward, the euro has become a totemic success for the European project and has been rising against the pound for more than a year.

Further pressure is likely to be piled on to the pound – and in favour of the euro – today if, as expected, the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee cuts interest rates. Some economists believe the rate may cut by as much as half a per cent.

Geoff Kendrick, a currency strategist, said: "The UK has clearly softened a lot more than Europe and I guess that's why we'll see the Bank of England cut rates tomorrow while the ECB will be hawkish... At least for now it looks like the trend (in euro/sterling) is well and truly intact."

The pound has weakened after days of bad economic news which has increased the chances of the interest rate being cut, reducing the attractiveness of holding the currency.

This week, the Halifax house price index posted its steepest monthly fall in over 15 years, a 2.5 per cent fall in a single month. Banks have withdrawn their 100 per cent mortgage deals and Nationwide's consumer confidence fell to its lowest level in four years.

    The currency crunch: British tourists pay price for euro's strength,
    I, 10.4.2008,






Dollar Falls Against Euro, Yen


March 17, 2008
Filed at 12:09 p.m. ET
The New York Times


BERLIN (AP) -- The dollar fell to record low against the euro on Monday, and sank to its lowest level in more than 12 years against the Japanese yen as investors reacted to the latest emergency rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve and to news that JPMorgan Chase is buying rival investment bank Bear Stearns for a fraction of what it was worth last week.

In European trading, the euro rose as high as $1.5904 but soon fell back to $1.5746. That was still above the $1.5687 it bought late Friday in New York trading.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that the deficit in the current account dropped by 9 percent last year to $738.6 billion. Later, the Fed said U.S. industrial output fell half a percent in February, the biggest amount in four months.

The dollar fell as low as 95.72 Japanese yen, its lowest since August 1995, before recovering to 97.03 yen but still below the 99.21 yen it bought in New York on Friday. The dollar broke below 100 yen just last Thursday.

The lows came a day after the Fed approved a cut in its emergency lending rate to financial institutions to 3.25 percent from 3.5 percent.

Also on Sunday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it would acquire Bear Stearns for $236.2 million in a deal backed by the Fed. JP Morgan will pay $2 per share, down from Bear Stearns closing price of $30 per share on Friday.

''It has certainly been something of an historic weekend, with an emergency Fed rate cut and news that J.P. Morgan intends to acquire Bear Stearns marking the next chapter in the credit crisis,'' said James Hughes of CMC Markets in London.

''Unsurprisingly this has been broadly bad news for the dollar with (the) euro-dollar managing a short-lived breach above 1.5900 -- yet another all-time record high -- although this has been short lived with profit takers stepping in,'' Hughes said.

The Fed is scheduled to meet Tuesday, and analysts are predicting that the central bank could reduce its 3 percent benchmark rate on overnight loans between commercial banks by as much as another percent.

The European Central Bank, by comparison, has left its own rate at 4 percent as inflation in the 15-nation euro zone hit yet another record high last month.

Lower interest rates can jump-start a nation's economy, but can also weigh on its currency as traders transfer funds to countries where they can earn higher returns.

So far the ECB has remained steadfast in keeping its rates unchanged because inflation has been so high, but politicians and some companies have bemoaned the strong euro because it makes goods produced in the euro zone far more expensive elsewhere and undermines exports.

However, at the same time, the higher euro can increase domestic purchasing power.

The Bank of England said Monday it will offer an extra 5 billion pounds -- around $10.1 billion -- of reserves into the short-term money market because of conditions in the market.

The dollar rose against the British pound, which fell to $2.0059 from $2.0218 on Friday.

    Dollar Falls Against Euro, Yen, NYT, 17.3.2008,






Dollar Weakens to $1.50 to the Euro


February 27, 2008
The New York Times


The dollar breached the level of $1.50 to the euro on Wednesday for the first time as fears of weakness in the United States economy mixed with evidence of resilience in Europe.

In Asian trading, the euro hit $1.5047 after flirting with the $1.50 level in New York Tuesday. That was the dollar’s weakest position since the euro, now the currency of 15 countries, was introduced in 1999. In New York, the dollar continued to weaken and was trading at $1.5126 at 12:30 p.m.

“Psychologically and symbolically, this is a significant move,” said Tony Morriss, senior currency strategist with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Sydney. “The economic numbers out of the U.S. have been uniformly terrible, and we are entering a new phase of dollar weakness.”

The dollar has weakened steadily in recent weeks after recovering from similar levels in November on the emerging realization that the Federal Reserve, despite worries about inflation in the United States, will keep cutting interest rates to protect economic growth at the same time that the European Central Bank is holding rates steady.

Interest rate differentials drive currency movements by decreasing the appeal of dollar-denominated assets. Donald L. Kohn, vice chairman of the Fed, played down the risks of inflation in the United States on Tuesday, focusing instead on the risks to economic growth — a clear sign the Fed has not finished the rate-cutting cycle it began after the start of financial market turmoil late last summer.

“The Fed’s stance is really aggressive,” said Stephen Jen, chief currency economist at Morgan Stanley in London. “Every time we think the Fed is eyeing inflation, they turn around and cut rates.”

Another round of weakness has the potential to increase political tensions in Europe, though so far France is the only country that has consistently complained about the strong euro. Though it has acknowledged the potential costs of a stronger euro, Germany has remained upbeat, saying it is not worried.

Volker Trier, the chief economist of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, largely echoed this view on Wednesday.

“The euro’s strength is hurting here and there,” Mr. Trier said, according to Reuters. “Over all, though, the economy can still cope with it well.”

Asian currencies have also risen against the dollar, but exporters there can take comfort in the fact that any pain is being broadly shared.

“Asian currencies are uniformly appreciating against the U.S. currency due to dollar weakness, rather than any single Asian currency rapidly firming against the others,” said Cem Karacadag, director in the emerging markets economics group at Credit Suisse in Singapore. “So, no single country is going to lose export share to its competitors in the region.”

    Dollar Weakens to $1.50 to the Euro, NYT, 27.2.2008,






Pound reaches 26-year dollar high


Last Updated: Wednesday
18 April 2007
19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
BBC News


Sterling has risen to its highest level against the dollar since 1981, breaking through the $2.010 mark.

The currency rose above $2 on Tuesday after unexpectedly high UK inflation figures indicated further interest rate rises were likely.

The Bank of England is widely expected to raise rates to 5.5% on 10 May and at least once more later in the year.

The dollar, which later eased back to $2.006 against sterling, also slid to a two-year low against the euro.


Inflationary threats

The pound was strengthened further by the release of the minutes of the Bank of England's last interest rate meeting at which two of nine members voted for an immediate rate rise.

Official figures also showed that average earnings rose at an annual rate of 4.6% over the three months to February, which is the fastest rate for almost three years.

The Bank of England is concerned that the current rate of inflation will encourage workers to press for higher wage settlements, which would create more inflation.

The Office for National Statistics pointed out that the rise in average earnings came entirely from bonuses, but those can still be inflationary.


'Most pronounced'

The Dow Jones index fell in early trading, reflecting broader concerns about a slowdown in the US economy.

Analysts said economic uncertainty and the fact that interest rates may have to come down to safeguard growth were behind the dollar's weakness.

"Sterling's rise above $2 is a consequence of both sterling strength and dollar weakness," said Howard Archer, an economist at Global Insight.

David Watt, a foreign exchange strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto, said the latest movements represented a "very broad move" against the dollar.

"The paradigm is shifting, with investors now seeing Europe as a main engine for growth, with higher rates, and in turn they are shunning the dollar," he added.


Higher interest rates increase demand for a currency as investors look to buy into assets that offer higher yields.

"The negative dollar sentiment right now is related to the US economy's potential for further slowdown and therefore rate cuts from the Fed," said David Powell, senior currency strategist, at IDEAglobal.

"We do expect the US to return to trend growth toward the end of the year," he added.

"But in the meantime, we could be in for a period of sustained dollar weakness and we expect that to be most pronounced against the euro and sterling in the coming days and weeks."

The dollar also slid to 17-year low against the Australian dollar, worth 1.200 Australian dollars.

    Pound reaches 26-year dollar high, BBC News, 18.4.2007,


















Over six years, Mike Moore

affixed nearly one million pennies

to the bar he owns with his wife, Annie.

Now the place is up for sale, pennies and all.



Monica Almeida/The New York Times


See a Penny, Pick It Up and ‘Honey, Get the Glue!’













McKittrick Journal

See a Penny, Pick It Up

and ‘Honey, Get the Glue!’


January 7, 2007

The New York Times



McKITTRICK, Calif., Jan. 4 — It began innocently enough, like most casual obsessions. Annie Moore dropped a penny into an empty coffee can. Clink.

And then another. Clink. And soon enough, many, many more. Mrs. Moore began scouring parking lots for lost pennies. Clink, clink, clink. She filled several cans.

Like many penny hoarders, she was never sure what to do with all of them — until she and her husband bought a roadside bar and cafe in this speck of a town in California oil country near Bakersfield. Why not, she asked her husband, Mike, festoon the bar with the pennies? And he dutifully obliged the crazy idea, using regular Elmer’s glue to affix them from one end of the bar to another.

Job well done. Well, almost.

“I said that was a nice start, but I meant the whole bar, everything,” Mrs. Moore said with a laugh. She is the laughing one of the pair. Mr. Moore is the grumbler, and it is no wonder.

It was his task to complete the job, penny by painstaking penny, six years of gluing, gluing and gluing.

Now, one million pennies later — from Annie’s cans, customers with loose change and not a few trips to the bank for exchanges — Mike & Annie’s Penny Bar is a sight to behold. The pennies, like a swarm of copper ants, cover nearly every surface: the floor, the walls, even the sides of the pool table.

Mr. Moore did not exactly count out one million pennies, but after calculating 304 pennies per square foot of surface area, he figures it is pretty close. “It’s 200,000 on the floor alone,” he said proudly.

There are surprises. Mr. Moore used different shadings of pennies, old and new, to spell out a few messages that the sober may miss without squinting: “No Fishing,” under a fish tank. “I was a TV,” over an old television set. “Mike (heart) Annie,” on the back wall behind a row of liquor bottles. (These compete with an assortment of bumper stickers with messages like “Don’t suffer from insanity, enjoy every minute of it.”)

Mr. Moore did not enjoy every minute of this job, especially when pennies kept loosening from the ceiling railings. And it was not done entirely out of love. Mrs. Moore paid him a bribe of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle a couple of years ago.

Of course, they do appreciate the tourists.

“It is kind of a regional attraction,” said Kial Gunter, an oil field worker, whose beer one afternoon sat close to the bar’s prize possession, an 1883 Indian head penny. The oldest of the lot, it sits unheralded among its contemporary brethren beneath the hard plastic that covers the bar top.

“I didn’t even know it was there until a customer pointed it out to me one day,” Mr. Moore said. After a while, a penny is a penny.

The bar and cafe are what is left of the McKittrick Hotel, which has not operated as one for decades and is one of just a few businesses downtown, such as it is. A road sign off Highway 33, the main drag, gives the population as 190, but Jan Heim, a local rancher, said, “I think they were counting cats and dogs.”

Still, the Moores are preparing to give it all up. They have put the place up for sale, asking $899,999.98, “as is,” pennies included.

It is time to retire, they said, exhausted from the crush of business.

Illness sidelined Mr. Moore from much of the cafe work and penny-laying a couple of years ago. Mrs. Moore, working seven days a week, is ready for some fishing. For lunch each day she cooks about 80 steak specials on two outdoor grills, and she often does many more for the dinner crowd.

The establishment’s pennies surely lure some, but it is also the only restaurant to speak of for the growing number of energy workers in this part of Kern County, which locals have nicknamed West Texas for all the oil derricks and natural-gas plants.

Attractions are few.

“Who the heck would live in a godforsaken place like this?” Mr. Moore recalled asking when he first passed through in the early 1970s, on the way to visit one of Mrs. Moore’s aunts, who lived in town.

But the Moores were interested in getting out of the termite-extermination business they had operated in Eureka, Calif., and so they rented and operated the cafe for several months then. They went back to crawling under houses for a few more decades before quitting eight years ago and buying the McKittrick Hotel outright, moving in to some of the rooms upstairs.

From their travels they had grown fond of greasy spoons, and they dreamed of owning one in a quiet, simple place. But every little cafe needs a quirk, and that is where the pennies came in. Those, coupled with Mrs. Moore’s secret steak marinade, have drawn the masses ever since.

Television stations and magazines have visited over the years, and usually donations of pennies have followed. One customer left a five-gallon bucket full of them.

The Moores are leaving it up to the next owner to decide the pennies’ fate, but they hope they will remain. At the very least, someone has to keep up the penny puns, which have been difficult to avoid to this point — but it is time for a change.

“I guess,” Mrs. Moore said, “the buyer needs to be penny-wise.”

See a Penny, Pick It Up and ‘Honey, Get the Glue!’,










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