8 Strongest World Currencies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

8 Strongest World Currencies

Throughout the world, different countries use different types of legal tender to facilitate financial transactions. The United Nations currently recognizes 180 currencies that are used in 195 countries around the globe. Anyone who has traveled to another country can tell you that you can’t simply take currency from one country and use it in another. The value of your money is dependent on the current exchange rate. Various factors can influence the strength of a country’s currency, including political stability, inflation, and interest rates. Take a look at the eight strongest currencies in the world.

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Swiss Franc

Swiss Franc

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The first Swiss Franc was introduced in Switzerland in 1850. According to Investopedia, the currency has seen a dramatic rise in value over the past 15 years. In investment terms, the Swiss Franc is considered to be a “safe haven.” In simple terms, this means that the currency is expected to retain its value over the long run.

The Swiss Franc is the only Franc still used in any European country. In 2011, the European Union called the Franc a threat to the economy, causing its value to dip. The decision to unpeg the Swiss Franc from the Euro in 2015 shocked investors around the globe and caused the currency’s value to take a significant drop. Since 2015, the Swiss Franc’s value has rebounded with a current exchange rate of 1.02 Franc to 1 USD as of August 2019.

European Euro

European Euro

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The Euro is the official currency of the European Union and the second most used currency in the world. Nineteen countries use the European Euro as their official currency, including France, Germany, and Italy. The European Union officially adopted the Euro in 2002. At this time, the currency had a value equivalent to 0.87 USD. It reached a record high value of $1.60 in 2008 during the U.S. financial crisis. In 2019, the Euro gained a value of approximately 1 Euro to 1.11 USD.

Cayman Islands Dollar

Cayman Islands Dollar

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The Cayman Islands are a British territory located in the Caribbean. The islands are home to breathtaking scenery and boast one of the strongest currencies in the world. According to OANDA, the islands have the highest standard of living in the Caribbean and the 14th highest GDP per capita in the world. Like US currency, the Cayman Islands features coins valued at 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, and 25 cents. The Cayman Islands dollar is pegged at 1 KYD to 1.2 USD.

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British Pound Sterling

British Pound Sterling

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The British Pound Sterling, more commonly known as the British Pound, is the oldest existing currency in the world. The pound was first used in England in 1489. Today, the British pound is still used by 13 countries, including the United Kingdom. When the European Union first proposed the Euro in 1997, the United Kingdom declined to make the change and instead chose to stick with the pound. They noted that the Euro did not pass the necessary economic tests for the country to make the switch. In 2019, the British Pound Sterling gained a value of 1 pound to 1.21 USD.

Jordan Dinar

Jordan Dinar

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Jordan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East. The small country, located east of Israel, attracts thousands of visitors each year. In particular, the historic site of Petra bringing over 780,000 visitors in 2017. The Jordan dinar is the official currency of the country. The dinar was first used in Jordan in 1949, replacing the Palestinian pound. The dinar has consistently been one of the strongest currencies in the world. The Jordan Times attributes this to the fact that the dinar has been pegged to the U.S. dollar for the past 20 years. Jordan is the only country to use the Jordan dinar. The dinar is valued at 1 JOD to 1.41 USD.

Oman Rial

Oman Rial

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The Arabian country of Oman is located southeast of Saudi Arabia and borders the Arabian Sea. The country has seen significant growth in its economy, thanks in large part to their oil supply. The Oman rial is the official currency of the Sultanate of Oman. The Oman rial (OMR) was first used in 1973, replacing the rial Saidi. The rial was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of $2.895 to 1 USD from 1973 to 1985 but dropped to a rate of $2.6008 in 1986.

Bahraini Dinar

Bahraini Dinar

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The small island of Bahrain is located east of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. The country is home to nearly 1.5 million residents. According to Continental Currency, Bahrain’s economy is presently the 10th freest economy in the world. The Bahraini dinar has been the official currency of Bahrain since 1965. Bahrain is the only country to use the Bahraini dinar. While no other country uses the Bahraini dinar, Bahrain accepts the Saudi Riyal in addition to the dinar. The Bahraini dinar is the second strongest currency in the world with a value pegged at 1 BHD to 2.65957 USD.

Kuwaiti Dinar

Kuwaiti Dinar

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The Kuwaiti dinar is currently the strongest currency in the world. Kuwait is a small country located between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Its strong oil supply is often linked to the country’s strong economy. The Kuwaiti dinar was first used in 1961 after Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom. The Kuwaiti dinar was used in concurrence with the Gulf rupee until 1966 when the country stopped using the rupee.

Over the years, the Kuwaiti dinar has been pegged to several different currencies. From 1975 to 2003, the Kuwaiti dinar was pegged to a weighted basket. From 2003 to 2007, the dinar was pegged to the U.S. dollar. Presently, the Kuwaiti dinar is pegged to an undisclosed basket with a value of 1 KWD to 3.29 USD.

6 Things to Know Before Traveling to Belize

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

6 Things to Know Before Traveling to Belize

Travelers to Belize are often surprised to see how much natural beauty and outdoor adventure this tiny Central American nation offers. From idyllic Caribbean beaches teeming with marine life to sacred Maya sites and adrenaline-pumping rainforest activities, it’s no surprise that tourism is on the rise in Belize. If Belize is on the radar for your upcoming travels, here are six things to know before you go.

English Is the Official Language

Credit: Rob Crandall/Shutterstock.com

Belize is the only Central American country whose official language is English. This makes Belize even more attractive to travelers who want to explore Central America but are afraid of a potential language barrier. However, don’t be surprised to hear Belizeans speaking two, or maybe even three, languages. Most Belizeans speak Spanish and Kriol (Belizean Creole). You may even hear Garifuna or one of the Mayan dialects depending on where you go in the country.

You Can Use U.S. Dollars Everywhere

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If you don’t want to deal with currency exchange on your holiday, Belize also accepts U.S. dollars everywhere. With a steady exchange rate of two Belize dollars to one U.S. dollar, it eliminates any surprise on how far your money will go no matter when you decide to vacation in Belize.

No Chain Restaurants

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You can explore every district in Belize, but you won’t find a McDonald’s or any other chain restaurants. Belize is unique in that it lacks large, commercialized restaurants commonly seen elsewhere in Central America. What you will find in Belize are many family-owned eateries with some of the best food in the region. Until recently, the country didn’t have any big chain resorts either, outside of a few business hotels in Belize City. Both Hilton and Marriott are changing that statistic, though, with their first branded resorts opening on Ambergris Caye.

Queen Elizabeth II Was Served ‘Rat’

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Queen Elizabeth II was served gibnut during a trip to Belize in 1985. Since that historic visit, gibnut has earned the nickname “royal rat.” Gibnuts are large rodents that can weigh up to 25 lbs. They are considered a delicacy in Belize, with some people comparing their flavor to rabbit or ham. You won’t find gibnut served in every restaurant, and it’s only legal to serve it certain times of the year. This means if your vacation coincides with gibnut’s closed season, you won’t have an opportunity to taste this interesting dish.

The Tallest Building in Belize Is a Maya Site

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No matter where you travel in Belize, you’ll see that high-rise buildings are notably absent. While this might change in the future, the tallest building currently is the Caana temple. Located at the remote Maya site of Caracol, Caana stands 141 feet tall.

Belize Is Home to the World’s First Jaguar Preserve

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Located near Dangriga, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world’s first jaguar preserve. The preserve’s 150 square miles of tropical forest are also home to hundreds of birds and other wildlife like ocelots, deer, howler monkeys, tapirs, jaguarundi and pumas. There is no guarantee of spotting a jaguar, especially since they are nocturnal. However, it’s still an adventure to explore the nature trails and learn more about Belizean wildlife.

3 Important Tips for Exchanging Currency

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Important Tips for Exchanging Currency

You’re all packed and ready to head off on your fabulous vacation abroad. You’ve planned everything down to the last detail, and you can’t wait to have some great adventures and bring home some cute souvenirs for your loved ones. But you’re going to need money for those souvenirs, and probably for those adventures too, and most foreign countries don’t accept the American dollar. Here are three important tips for exchanging currency abroad so that you can get the money you need without too much hassle.

Wait Until You Reach Your Destination

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I know that for my first trip to Italy, I was chomping at the bit to exchange my dollars for euros. I wanted to have a wallet full of European money as soon as I landed in Europe, but this isn’t the way to go. According to expert travelers, it is best to wait until you arrive in your destination country to exchange currency because exchange providers in the United States tend to have a much worse exchange rate. I would also advise against rushing to the first currency exchange kiosk you see in the airport as well, because these businesses thrive on taking advantage of over-excited tourists and will also most likely have a bad exchange rate.

You Don’t Have to Exchange Currency at a Bank

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I have traveled abroad several times now, and in my experience, I have found that by far and away the best (and most convenient) way to exchange currency is to simply use an ATM in your destination country. You can go to a bank and make an exchange with cash, but you will lose a portion of the money in the exchange, and it can sometimes be inconvenient to find a bank that is open during your travels. By using an ATM to withdraw money in the local currency, there are still most likely going to be some fees (make absolutely sure that you check your bank’s policy on foreign transaction fees before you go abroad so you know what to expect), but you are more in control of the transaction, and there are ATMs on every corner. Plus it is just really, really simple: just put in your card, select the amount of euros or other currency you want, and hit “withdraw.”

Consolidate Your Exchanges

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The best tip for exchanging currency is to try to make as few exchanges as possible by consolidating your transactions. Since there is usually a bank fee or related costs on every transaction, it is best to just make one big transaction instead of a bunch of little ones, so you only get charged those extra fees once. According to currency authorities like the XE Corporation, some foreign exchange providers might either waive their commission fee or give you a better rate if you make an exchange that is over a certain amount. The best thing you can do is look into this before your trip if you can, and try to plan out your expenses ahead of time so you can take out all or most of the money you will need in one withdrawal to avoid paying extra fees.

Saudi Arabia Issues Euro-denominated Bonds for 1st Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Issues Euro-denominated Bonds for 1st Time

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019 – 11:30
Saudi Market Tadawul. AFP file photo
Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia has issued Euro-denominated bonds, its first in that currency, after the Kingdom hired Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale as global coordinators and bookrunners for the potential new deal, while BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Samba Capital were mandated as lead managers and passive bookrunners.

The Saudi issuance of Euro-denominated bonds in tranches of eight and 20 years, depending on market conditions, comes at a time when the country was rated A1 by Moody’s and A + by Fitch Ratings.

Saudi Arabia has begun its approach to global markets by issuing bonds and sukuk in the dollar, and through the Euro-bonds, the country seeks to diversify its investor base, reduce costs and open up new markets, according to experts.

Financial expert Mohammed al-Omran explained that Saudi Arabia announced that it will target international markets and foreign currencies. He added that the euro-bonds will be relatively distant from the dollar-bonds, stressing that the goal is to diversify the currency, reduce cost and establish relations with new markets.

Omran indicated that euro’s current comparative advantage is the lower interest rates, less than 1 percent, while interest on the dollar is about 2 percent, noting that savings will be 1.25 percent per year in euros compared to the dollar.

For his part, economic expert Mohammed Al Abbas indicated that major institutions and banks are racing to enter the Saudi market which is trying to attract international investments and foreign funds, as investors seek confidence in the economy.

He stated that the rush on the Saudi market is an indication on high confidence that large companies and investors have in the Kingdom

He stressed that Saudi Arabia is interested in encouraging foreign investments and entering the European markets through Euro-bonds.

Bonds are low-risk financial instruments and can be disposed at any time, in addition that countries that issue the bonds are obliged to pay them according to the issuance date, according to economic expert Khalaf al-Shammari.

The euro market is characterized by a variety of investors from new institutions and portfolios, which analysts believe Saudi Arabia can take advantage of.

French President Hollande Says French Values Must Be Defended In Cold War Climate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Hollande Says France Must Defend Values in Cold War Climate

December 31, 2016, 3:03 PM EST
  • Outgoing French president sees democracy, freedom at risk
  • Final New Year’s address targets National Front’s Le Pen

French President Francois Hollande tells the French they have values to defend in the context of a new Cold War — a reference to both geopolitics and the country’s looming presidential election.

“There are moments in history when everything can be toppled. We are living through one of those periods,” Hollande said in a televised speech from Paris. “Democracy, freedom, Europe and even peace — all of these things have become vulnerable, reversible. We saw it with Brexit and with the U.S. election in November.”

Hollande, who came to power in May 2012, bowed out of France’s 2017 presidential race earlier this month, meaning today’s New Year’s eve address to the nation will be his last as head of state. The Socialist leader insisted to French voters that they have a responsibility on the global stage when they cast their ballots.

“France is open to the world, it is European,” Hollande said. “It is not possible to imagine our country crouching behind walls, reduced to its domestic self, returning to a national currency and increasingly discriminating based on peoples’ origins. It would no longer be France. That is what is at stake.”

Those remarks directly targeted the policies of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is committed to pulling France out of the euro, increasing restrictions on immigration, as well as putting up tariff barriers.

“Our main enemy is our doubt. You must have confidence in yourselves,” Hollande said.

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Zimbabwe’s Powerful Dictator Mugabe: Running Out Of Money, Running Out Of Power

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

As Zimbabwe’s money runs out, so does Mugabe’s power

President Robert Mugabe addresses to his supporters during an election rally in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe June 26, 2008.REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo
By Ed Cropley | HARARE

In Zimbabwe, where worthless $100 trillion notes serve as reminders of the perils of hyperinflation, President Robert Mugabe is printing a new currency that jeopardizes not just the economy but his own long grip on power.

Six months ago, the 92-year-old announced plans to address chronic cash shortages by supplementing the dwindling U.S. dollars in circulation over the past seven years with ‘bond notes’, a quasi-currency expected at the end of November.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the bond notes will be officially interchangeable 1:1 with the U.S. dollar and should ease the cash crunch. The central bank also promised to keep a tight lid on issuance.

After a 2008 multi-billion percent inflationary meltdown caused by rampant money-printing, many Zimbabweans are skeptical. The plan has already caused a run on the banks as Zimbabweans empty their accounts of hard currency.

Internal intelligence briefings seen by Reuters raise the possibility that the bond notes, if they crash, could spell the end of Mugabe’s 36 years in charge.

A Sept. 29 Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) report revealed the powerful army was as unhappy as the rest of the population with the new notes and had told Africa’s oldest leader to “wake up and smell the coffee”.

“Top security officers have told Mugabe not to blame them if Rome starts to burn,” the report said.

Reuters was unable to determine the author of the report. It is also unclear if Mugabe has seen the report, whose final audience is not specified. Mugabe’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment, nor was the CIO available.

But the report offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of Mugabe’s security forces – the backbone of his power – and their concerns about the implosion of what used to be one of Africa’s most promising economies.

“Mugabe was openly told that the bond notes are going to cause his downfall,” the report said.

WAITING FOR THE DROP

The notes’ first test will come in the informal foreign exchange markets on the streets of Harare.

If they fall heavily in value, they are likely to unleash an inflationary spiral that could bleed the banking system of its last few dollars and wipe out Zimbabweans’ savings for the second time in less than a decade, economists say.

The same happened in 2008: powerful individuals with access to dollars at the official 1:1 rate were able to buy bond notes at a discount on the unofficial market and then convert them back to dollars at face value.

“You start with one dollar, then you’ve got 10, then you’ve got 100, then you’ve got 1,000 – and it’s not even lunchtime,” said John Robertson, one of Zimbabwe’s most respected private economists.

In Harare’s chaotic Road Port bus station, the main terminus for those heading to and from South Africa, Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner, some bus operators are fearing the worst.

Required to pay nearly all their expenses – fuel, road tolls and police bribes in Zimbabwe and South Africa – in hard currency cash, they are particularly exposed.

“It’s like being on death row. You don’t know when the hangman is going to open your cell door,” said ticket-seller Simba Muchenje, pulling a wad of worthless 2008 Zimbabwe dollars from his briefcase and tossing them onto the counter.

“It’s just taking us back to the bad old days.”

In interviews, none of eight money-changers trading South African rand and U.S. dollars said they would accept bond notes at their $1 face value because of fears of immediate depreciation. The rand and the U.S. dollar have become Zimbabwe’s currencies since the local dollar was scrapped in 2009

“The banks may say 1:1, but here we say 2:1. We can’t afford to pay the same as the banks. I’m running a business, not a bank,” said Patience, a 32-year-old money-changer.

REASSURING WORDS

Given Zimbabwe’s recent history of hyperinflation, the RBZ is keen to allay fears the printing presses are about to go into overdrive, and that the bond notes are a roundabout route to a new Zimbabwe dollar.

“The introduction of bond notes does not mark the return of the Zimbabwe dollar through the back door,” it said in a statement on its website.

Instead, the bank has presented the notes as a 5 percent “export incentive” – a top-up added by the central bank to the accounts of those receiving foreign exchange either from overseas remittances or via farming, manufacturing and mining exports.

They will also be backed by a $200 million “loan facility” from Afreximbank, a Cairo-based lender owned by the African Development Bank and dozens of African governments and central banks. Afreximbank declined to comment.

Given monthly exports of roughly $250 million, the 5 percent ‘top-up’ suggests a monthly liquidity injection of just $12.5 million, or $1 for every Zimbabwean.

In public statements, the RBZ has given assurances it will not exceed the $200 million issuance ceiling.

But it has not clarified how bond note balances will be recorded in U.S. dollar accounts, nor how ATMs will distinguish between greenbacks and bond notes when they issue cash.

“Upon withdrawal, banks have an option to pay in any one of the legal tenders,” the RBZ said.

RBZ Governor John Mangudya missed a scheduled interview with Reuters and did not respond to emailed questions.

NO DOLLARS, NO FUN

Few Zimbabweans interviewed believed the RBZ would stick to the issuance limits, especially while a large current account deficit continues to suck dollars out of the country.

After the bond notes’ announcement, #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka, social media campaigns targeting the new system, drew the biggest anti-Mugabe protests in a decade before being crushed by riot police and the CIO.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands across the country lined up through the night to empty their accounts the moment their pay or pensions arrive, exacerbating the liquidity crunch. Banks have responded with daily withdrawal limits: $100 one day, $50 another, none another. Customers have no idea until the banks open their doors at 8 a.m.

“Sometimes you get to the end of the line and there’s no money,” said industrial fitter Edmund Panganai, 40, outside a CABS building society branch in Harare. Every month, it takes him at least seven nights of queuing to get his hands on his pay.

In Harare, where most U.S. dollar bills are stained deep brown with grime, a crisp 2009-edition $100 note is now worth as much as $115.

Conversely, the plastic and mobile money introduced to ease physical cash shortages is depreciating, forcing vendors to charge a 10-15 percent premium.

One prostitute, who had been relying on e-wallet payment systems such as Ecocash, run by mobile firm Econet Wireless (ECO.ZI), said she and other sex workers were turning away customers without hard cash.

“Ecocash? No thank you. Dollars, dollars, dollars,” said Patience, a 22-year-old working a Harare street corner. “No dollars, no fun.”

ARMY RATIONED

Combined with unemployment at 90 percent and a government budget crunch that has seen delays in payment of state wages, the discontent is also pervading the army.

The Sept. 29 CIO report said soldiers had applauded the social media protests because they had led to an improvement in daily rations.

“Before the demonstrations government had stopped supplying them with breakfast. At lunch they were being fed with sadza (maize meal) and cabbage without cooking oil. Mugabe instructed for the army officers to be given descent [sic] meals so they will rally behind him,” the report said.

Other intelligence reports from late September and early October suggested Mugabe was having doubts about the bond notes. Reuters was unable to confirm this.

“The issue of the bond notes is giving Mugabe sleepless nights,” one said. “Mugabe is serious [sic] thinking of delaying the introduction of the bond until January next year.”

Another report said army officers were frustrated with pay delays and withdrawal limits.

“They are very angry as they are failing to access their money from the banks and do not want to be issued with bonds,” it said.

“These junior and middle-ranked officers reckon that Mugabe has failed, hence he needs to step down for new blood to replace him.”

VETERANS AT WAR

In July, veterans of the 1964-1979 liberation war that brought Mugabe to power broke ranks, accusing him of “dictatorial tendencies” and blaming him for the “serious plight” of the economy and discord in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

“We are dedicated to stop this rot,” they said in a statement.

As fears over the bond notes have grown and the battle to succeed Mugabe has intensified, they have continued to flex their muscle.

“Once you go wrong with us, you automatically go wrong with the whole state apparatus,” veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters.

The veterans enjoy warm ties with the army and security services, and want Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former security chief nicknamed “The Crocodile”, to take over from Mugabe, political analysts say. On the other side is a faction attached to Mugabe’s 51-year-old wife, Grace.

Mugabe responded to the growing pressure on Nov. 19 with an address in which he admitted fallibility and gave a rare hint at retirement.

“If I am making mistakes, you should tell me. I will go,” he said, before adding: “Change should come in a proper way. If I have to retire, let me retire properly.”

(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Janet McBride)

India: New Currency Is Causing Huge Lines At Banks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Cash-Starved Indians Are Struggling After Modi’s Surprise Currency Ban

INDIA-ECONOMY-CURRENCY
NARINDER NANU—AFP/Getty ImagesIndian people queue outside a bank as they wait to deposit and exchange 500 and 1000 rupee notes in Amritsar on November 13, 2016.

Saddled with worthless pieces of paper, ordinary Indians are finding it tough to purchase essential goods

Across India, patience is rapidly wearing thin.

Last week, the government of India’s Prime Minster Narendra Modi triggered a nationwide scramble for cash, after unexpectedly banning currency notes that account for 86% of all money in circulation. Modi said the move was targeted at tax evaders with large stockpiles of illicit cash, as well as at currency counterfeiters. But nearly a week on, public frustration is growing amid continuing delays in dispensing replacement notes at banks and ATMs.

Saddled with worthless pieces of paper, ordinary Indians are struggling to purchase essential goods. In India’s large informal economy where salaries are often paid out in cash, many are also facing delays in drawing their incomes. For others at the bottom of the economic ladder who survive on daily wages, the Modi government’s move has resulted in the loss of hours of precious work, as they spend their time waiting in long bank queues.

“I support the fight against black money [as illicit cash is known in India],” Ashok Mahto, a Delhi shopkeeper said at the weekend. But he blamed the government for not doing enough to prepare for the rush to exchange the old 500 and 1,000 Rupee notes (worth roughly $7.5 and $15 respectively) that had suddenly been declared illegal at midnight on Nov. 8. As a long queue spilled out of a nearby bank branch and snaked down the road in front of his shop, he said his business had come to a near-standstill, with his customers were left with wallets full of old, now-useless money. “It has become very hard.”

In place of the old currency, the government has introduced a redesigned 500 and a new 2000 Rupee note. Already, the government says banks have received more than $44 billion in deposits in the form of old notes since the policy was announced last week. But withdrawing new currency is proving tough. At ATMs, differences in size mean that as many as 200,000 machines nationwide need to be reconfigured before they can start dispensing the new notes, a process that only began after Modi’s surprise announcement last week. Officials justified the delay on the grounds of secrecy, saying any advance notice would have alerted hoarders of illicit currency and given them time to launder their unaccounted for wealth. The machines that are functioning are fast running out of the smaller denomination notes still in circulation.

Further complicating matters is the fact that millions of Indians live and work without formal banking, operating without accounts and credit or debit cards. Modi’s government, for its part, has tried to change this with a massive financial inclusion drive in recent years that has made it simpler for people to open no-frills bank accounts. But many still remain outside the system, with a 2015 report from the consultancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers putting the number of unbanked Indians at around 233 million. Another report from last year, compiled by Tufts University researchers, found that less than 10% of Indians have ever made non-cash payments.

And although India has in recent years become a booming market for new digital forms of payments, access to new cashless technologies remains an issue for many. A recent report by Google and the Boston Consulting Group, published just months before the government’s move last week, said the Indian digital payments industry could be worth as much $500 billion by 2020, contributing 15% to the country’s economic output. But India continues to suffer from a stark digital divide, with nearly a billion people still offline, according to the World Bank. To continue going about their daily lives, they have no choice but to endure long queues to get their hands on the new currency.

As people grow impatient, Modi made an emotional appeal to Indians at the weekend, promising the current problems were only temporary and would help rid India of corruption and unaccounted for wealth. “Cooperate with me and help me for 50 days and I will give you the India you desired,” he said, referring to the end-December deadline for deposits of old notes at bank branches in a speech in coastal Goa state on Sunday, in which he grew teary-eyed. “I know that (some) forces are up against me, they may not let me live, they may ruin me because their loot of 70 years is in trouble, but I am prepared.”

Thailand’s King Dies: World Financial Markets Seem To Only Care About Profits From It

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Thai Baht Holds Gain After King Dies in Sign Selloff May Unwind

October 13, 2016 — 9:35 AM EDTUpdated on October 13, 2016 — 10:42 AM EDT
  • Some strategists saw uncertainty fueling this week’s slump
  • Bonds, stocks had been heading for worst week since 2013

Thailand’s baht held gains and an exchange-traded fund tracking the nation’s shares rose after the Royal Household Bureau said King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, had died.

The baht rose 0.7 percent to 35.42 per dollar as of 10:27 a.m. in New York. The local stock market had rebounded with the currency, closing higher before the king’s death was announced. Earlier in the week, Thailand’s assets had tumbled after the royal palace said Sunday that King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s health was “unstable.”

“People are already pretty much factoring a lot of uncertainty right now,” said James Woods, a strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, speaking before the announcement. “You may see another push lower, but really, after that it’s just going to be about how quickly the royal family comes out to stabilize the market with comments and what their succession plan is. Once that is in place and investors have certainty, then it’s back to business as usual.”

The iShares MSCI Thailand Capped ETF climbed 1.8 percent to $67.95 in New York, trimming its loss this week to 7.8 percent.

Priced In

“The uncertainties and political risks have been more or less priced in,” Margaret Yang, an analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said by phone after the news. “We may still see some panic selling but I don’t expect this to last for very long. Eventually smart money will flow in to support the market.”

Thailand’s SET Index has fallen 6.1 percent this week, with 30-day volatility on the gauge climbing on Wednesday to the highest level since January. The baht reached the lowest since January and at one stage was heading for its worst week in a decade.

The SET rose 15 percent in the first nine months of the year, the most among Southeast Asia’s major gauges after the Jakarta Composite Index. Stocks entered a bull market in July and reached the highest level in 15 months in August as economic growth accelerated and emerging-market assets rallied.

Stimulus Measures

Equities had also been aided as stimulus measures to help shield the country from China’s economic slowdown made the nation’s shares a haven for overseas funds. Foreign investors have poured $3.8 billion into Thai equities this year, the biggest inflow in Southeast Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Thailand’s economic fundamentals remain unaffected, which should help it to weather this storm,” Jingyi Pan, a Singapore-based strategist at IG Asia Pte, said by e-mail before the announcement. “The military government which has overseen the economy during a period of increasing GDP growth, could help to guide the country through the period.”

Global funds pulled more than $950 million from Thai bonds in four straight days of selling, heading for the largest weekly outflows since May 2013. The nation’s 10-year government yield rose 11 basis points this week to 2.32 percent, the highest since January.

The nation’s bond market had been struggling even before the king’s health spurred further declines, as higher oil prices threatened to spur inflation and prompting traders to price in chances for a Bank of Thailand interest-rate increase. Thailand’s sovereign notes have slumped 2.1 percent in the past six months, compared with gains of more than 6 percent in India and Indonesia and a 2.9 percent advance in Malaysia.

Growth Outlook

Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy may grow as much as 3.5 percent in 2016 from 3.2 percent last year on the government’s accelerating spending, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who took power in a May 2014 military coup, has issued a series of economic stimulus measures valued at more than 645 billion baht since September 2015 to help shore up local demand.Soo Hai Lim, investment director at Baring Asset Management (Asia) Ltd. in Hong Kong, says there’s a potential buying opportunity.

“A lot of people are nervous about the situation,” he said. “It is something that investors cannot dismiss outright but with the military in charge, the situation in Thailand should be manageable. Quite a number of companies are still delivering quite good growth despite the challenging macro economic environment. This incident is unfortunate but it’s something we’re aware of. The king has been sick for a while.”

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