ECONOMY

Few regrets for old currencies

FRANKFURT (AP) – Greek drachmas may be ancient history, francs are passe and the mark is kaput. But the extinct currencies replaced by the euro have left their imprint in people’s minds, even though most say they like the new money. Six months after the introduction of euro bills and coins, many people in the 12 countries using them can’t stop refiguring prices in their phantom old money. «Sometimes I do miss the franc, mainly because I get frustrated at having to convert prices,» said Christine Lelaidier, 42, as she sat at a Paris cafe. «But I don’t have any nostalgia for the franc. We have to change with the times.» The euro reached a psychological milestone when it rose to 99.43 US cents early Wednesday, its latest climb in a rally that began in early April and has sent the currency up 14 percent. But yesterday the dollar gained, and the rate slipped to 98.41 cents in European trading. «I mostly think in euros, but when something seems high, I recalculate it in marks,» said German businessman Klemens Mueller, who was carrying his lunch through a mall in downtown Frankfurt. «For instance, this sandwich, which was 2.80 euros. I stopped to think, that’s 5.60 marks.» Germans and the French have it easy, dividing roughly by two and by six. Belgians must divide by 40, and Spaniards by 166 to think in pesetas. Even in France, a poll by the Ipsos research firm for the Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed that 68 percent of the people wanted stores to go on showing franc equivalents. In the Netherlands, only one person in five admitted to thinking in euros in a survey. Yet a European Union survey showed 75 percent of respondents in the euro countries approve of their new currency. The euro notes and coins were introduced on January 1, circulating alongside national currencies until the last of them ceased to be valid on March 1. If there’s a country given to euro-regret, it tends to be Germany. Its government led the charge for the euro, but Germans also traded in a stable currency that symbolized their status as Europe’s powerhouse economy after World War II. Public suspicion that merchants rounded prices up during the transition – stoked by the top-selling newspaper Bild – reached the point that the government convened a summit three weeks ago with consumer groups to try to defuse public annoyance. While Germans may grouse, countries with a reputation for weak currencies such as Greece and Italy had a lot to gain from the euro. That’s because the new European Central Bank was designed to enforce the same sort of anti-inflationary policy that made the German mark Europe’s most stable currency for decades. Now, everyone in the 12 countries has a solid currency in their pockets. – In Atlantic, Augustea has fixed M/V «Brave Unity» 69,124 dwt, built 1996, delivery July 1-10 Brazil for 2 legs, redelivery UKC / Med., at USD 6,500 daily and USD 125,000 ballast bonus.