Exchange frictions


Think about this space: in the more abstract, a means of transferring value from one paper format to align with the regulations of another government’s (regardless of which is more difficult to counterfeit, easier to be understood by the sight-impaired, legible by the country’s vending machines, designed to fit neatly into people’s wallets, etc.). While we have terms like “soft currency” and “hard currency”, how often do you stop to reflect upon the fact that the endpoint of your government’s relative level of stability, economic wellbeing, and perhaps also general likability are reflected in the ability for your government’s designated value storage system (usually little pieces of paper) to be exchanged for examples of another government’s  designated value storage system (usually also little pieces of paper).

For this particular shop, interesting to note which currencies are most prominently advertised as being convertible here. Notable also are the languages they are advertised in, and which currencies are encountered first as one enters the space (as well as the reasons they’re displayed in that way/location).

I’ve thought a bit before about the cultural dynamics and social implications of exchanging money, specifically in Myanmar, where those who get paid in US dollars must routinely exchange one set of paper for another more locally (but less internationally) compatible set of paper. While to my knowledge Jordan’s currency black market is not nearly as thriving as Myanmar’s, there are always some interesting behaviors around money that walk the fine line of “legality”.

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