Globalism bites back

There is much to learn about the state of the world from funding a spring break trip.

Adri Mehra

Financially speaking, this is the worst time in history for U.S. residents to travel abroad.

The euro is (literally) making Swiss cheese of the dollar, and of course my lovely girlfriend chooses now to study in Italy for a semester. I’m headed to visit her for 10 days, so not even I, the frozen and bereft party, can escape the heat of the currency crisis.

Although the week-plus of fun and frolic more closely resembles a mortgage to me on paper, late-spring and summer expatriates lose their proverbial shirts even when it’s still too cold to take off their jackets.

Case in point: The Hotel Tina is a quaint little inn in Florence, Italy. Hopefully it’s as cute as its name. A days-long protracted Internet search name-checked the establishment as the absolute cheapest single private room in the whole city at $47.45 per night – that is, until Tuesday, when it soars to $61.01 because the dollar has fallen further

Thankfully, our University’s spring break is fairly early this year, or else European escapades could have been more than 25 percent more expensive in a matter of a few days.

Alas, such are the seasonal tides of tourism. But what is really behind the death of the dollar? I mean, seriously, can’t U.S. geopolitical hegemony at least secure us a stable way to earn and spend money compared to the countries we piss off and invade?

Apparently not. Wherefore art thou, Uncle Sam?

We’ve all heard about the unfathomably gargantuan trade deficit. The United States imports far more than it exports, period. We want, want, want, and that costs money. Japanese cars, Chinese-made clothes, German machine tools – hell, Finnish cell phones. If you want multicultural, look no further than our trade imbalance with the world.

There have been other traumas to our financial system. The accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom exposed the reporting and regulatory system in this country to be the depraved, glad-handing sham that it is, and foreign investors fled as their stakes evaporated in fraudulent insider trading.

This has set off the consequent euro-ization of the world’s funds. Since the continental transition of the initial 12 currencies in 2002, the “euro-zone” has expanded to include Russia and, increasingly, China.

The euro is quickly becoming the international means of exchange the dollar never could. Another strong reason, besides its stability, is its geographical horse sense. Pan-European tourism and business travel have been comfortably nestled under one umbrella, and that’s lucrative for the whole group.

So what’s keeping the dollar afloat at all, in a sea of red ink? A little market-beverage we call oil. Black gold is still priced in dollars, and the United States still has a gentleman’s agreement with the Gulf States to keep it that way. But it can’t last forever. We can’t keep the inflation/invasion cycle going at this clip for much longer. The very globalism we commandeered will leave us in debt.

Fundamentally, we’re at the Mississippi sunset of an era. Investors have tired of the American cowboy running the circus, and with good reason. The United States has cheated and consumed obscenely, with bacchanalian ardor, for the last 50 years, and the chickens have finally come home to roost.

Is it already spring break next week? Pardon me while I mortally wound my pocketbook. In the global marketplace, the Hotel Tina gets the last laugh.

Arrivederci, Signore Dollar.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]