Sunday, March 8, 2009

Don't fear the reaper (of currency speculation profits)

Speculators? Shmeculators!

So says President Lee Myung-bak (though not as glibly as that), who is now in Indonesia on his last leg of his This Part of the World Tour.

He makes it clear that South Korea has the means to stabilize the Korean won (KRW), citing currency swap arrangements with China and Japan, as well as South Korea's $200 billion in foreign exchange reserves, which are more than South Korean foreign debt obligations.

I hope he's right. Given that a sizable amount of my income is in KRW, I am hurting. But unlike a certain group of English teachers in Pusan who are living in Korea off the Korean won that they earn but nevertheless think their won-based salary should be increased, I'm supposed to be using that Korean money in Hawaii.

Even though gas prices, for example, have dipped back down to about $2, I'm still paying close to the KRW equivalent as when it was at $4. If I pay with my Shinhan Bank Visa card, where most of my money is, my dorm rent had gone from about W400,000 won to well over W600,000.

And this hurts big time. Thank goodness for Blockbuster, newly affordable Starbucks and Coffee Bean, and the $1 theater at Restaurant Row.

Still, I have to keep telling myself, as far as worries go around the world, this isn't a huge one. I've got food in my belly, medical insurance to cure me, usually warm weather around me, and no wars trying to kill me.

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