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Centretown News
February 05, 1999

Why not an Amero?


By Jen Ross

Since the launch of the first modern continental currency last month, Euro-phoria has the world considering monetary marriage.

From pole to pole, economists are singing the praises of common currency. Canadian leaders have suggested monetary union with the U.S.; some Mexicans have indicated their eagerness to join their North American trade partners; and Argentina is pondering scrapping its own bills for the American dollar, which it has pegged one-to-one against its peso since 1991.

There are arguments on both sides of the coin as to whether monetary mergers are desirable. Whether they would even be possible across the Americas or in North America alone is another question entirely.

But what I find most perplexing about joint currency proposals is that they focus on adopting the U.S. dollar.

If the Americas are to embrace a single continental exchange, wouldn’t it be best to create a new, generic currency? Why not ... an Amero?

Europe didn’t impose the Deutschmark, the franc or the lira on all its members. It kept everyone happy with a completely new currency. With the euro, no one felt slighted or assimilated. No one felt disadvantaged vis-ŕ-vis their neighbours. No one felt crushed by the ‘big guy’.

This may be due to the absence of a single European ‘big guy’. Germany, France and Italy are all prominent EU members with strong currencies.

But in the Americas, the U.S. is the clear superpower and it doesn’t need a common currency. Others could stabilize their economies by ending currency fluctuations.

But what would the U.S. gain from monetary integration? It’s no accident union calls have only come from its neighbours.

Even if the U.S. could be persuaded into some union, it would likely only be on condition that its bills be the chosen unit of exchange.

If the current magazine wars are any indication of Canadian protectionism and if the shadow of U.S. interference in the Americas is any measure of its neighbours’ fears of cultural imperialism, one would expect a common U.S. dollar to ignite fierce opposition.

But surprisingly, would-be unionists aren’t opposed; they want the U.S. dollar. They haven’t even suggested an Amero.

The U.S. wouldn’t need to impose its currency on us; integrationists seem willing to dollarize themselves. Monetary union is a distant prospect, however, as Jean Chrétien recently ridiculed the idea.

The only bills we can expect to see for a while on our dollars are those of our beloved loons.