Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dollar no longer welcome at Taj Mahal

LSB: Not only has Bush damaged our credibility around the world, but his economic policies aren't playing any better. We've become the Rodney Dangerfield of the world's nations.

Andrew Buncombe, The Independent (UK): The Taj Mahal may have been built as a testament to love but some hard-headed business decisions are now holding sway at India's most famous monument. First among them is that the US dollar is no longer welcome.

With parts of the American economy in turmoil and the dollar rapidly losing its long-held position as the currency of choice, Indian authorities have calculated they are losing considerable sums of money by allowing foreign tourists to pay using greenbacks.

A statement by India's Ministry for Tourism and Culture said the government had decided to act "in view of the international practices and also to avoid any anomaly on account of falling exchange rates of the US dollar vis-a-vis the rupee and the consequent fall in revenues".

... The snub to the dollar by the Indian authorities is just the latest indication of how many are now turning away from what for generations was considered the safest of the world's currencies. After months of turmoil, partly created by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage markets in the US, the lack of confidence in the dollar has reached the point where many international traders are transferring their wealth to stronger currencies such as sterling or the euro.

AND Tim Webb in Riyadh for The Observer:

... On Friday night, during what [OPEC] participants thought were private talks, Venezuela's oil minister Venezuela Rafael Ramirez and his Iranian counterpart Gholamhossein Nozari, argued that pricing - and selling - oil using the crippled dollar was damaging the cartel. They said Opec should formally express its concern about the weakness of the dollar when the cartel makes its official declaration at the close of the summit today.

But the Saudis, the world's largest oil producers and de facto head of Opec, vetoed the proposal. Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister [LSB: and Bush friend], warned that even the mere mention to journalists of the fact that leaders were discussing the weak dollar would cause the US currency to plummet. ...

The weakness of the dollar is one reason why oil prices are so high, as
cartel members seek to compensate for their lower earnings. This means a further drop in the dollar is likely to be accompanied by a rise in oil prices.

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