Americans traveling in Europe, rejoice! As economic doom and gloom comes at us from all sides, there is one bright spot we can all look to for inspiration: Against what seemed to be insurmountable odds, the dollar has finally gained some ground against the all-powerful euro. Just before leaving Paris on August 13th, I was paying $1.57 to get one measly unit of spending power. Now, just two months later, that same euro is only costing me $1.36. That might not seem like a big change...until you do the math. You're now paying twenty dollars less to get 100 euros than you were in August. If you plan on spending 2000 euros on your trip to Berlin, Paris or Madrid, that's a $400 savings! Spending 1000 euros costs you $200 dollars less than two months ago. In tough economic times, these are not small numbers to be scoffed at. I don't know about you, but I could do a lot with an extra $200 floating around in my bank account.
When I first arrived in Paris for my six-month stint back in February, I did a piece about the state of the dollar against the euro. It was a pretty optimistic account of the exchange rate, which, upon later examination, would seem quaint in its naivete as the dollar went into a nose-dive throughout the rest of my time here. Not to be outdone by Old Europe, the New World currency has fought back (or is it really that the euro has taken a tumble and we've stayed the same?) to levels Americans haven't seen in nearly a year. And I must admit, it feels good not to get bombarded with the "how 'bout the dollar?" question from grinning Parisians.
So cheer up, Americans! Yes, your 401k balance tanked, you can't afford to pay back your student loans, the job market's not in your favor, and you're possibly entering foreclosure, but try to look on the bright side. Sipping a vin rouge on the left bank just got 20 cents on the euro cheaper.