Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cairo Calling

I haven't posted much in the last week because I spent the weekend in Cairo, Egypt, just a short hop from my temporary home in Budapest. I had lots of interesting experiences and I hope to post about the economics thereof in the next week or so.

For now, I'll just say that I shared Isaac's Senegalese experience of a lack of small change. The Egyptian currency is the pound (not the British one). The "cent" equivalent is the piastre. (There are 25 and 50 piastre bills as well as a number of different coins.) My friend who had been in Egypt for a few weeks said that she had only seen three coins since she arrived. Nearly all transactions use bills and usually the 1, 5, and 10 denominations. Thus, the 1-, 5-, and 10-pound bills are typically in very poor condition: beaten up, torn, smudged. But 100- and 50-pound bills (the only kinds you can get from ATMs) are pristine. On the last day I did get some new 1s and did I ever hate to part with them. But the cleaning woman must get tipped....

Why doesn't the government just issue more bills of the lower denominations?

1 Comments:

Blogger Isaac said...

Glad to add another data point. Thing is, if you live there for a while you become much savvier about breaking bills at the appropriate places, and it becomes less of a problem.

I asked O'Connell about this and he didn't have any ideas...

1:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home