With stock markets falling and exchange rates going through the ceiling, here in Korea it is starting to feel like a very bad case of déjà vu and 1997 all over again.
1997. That was when the Asian Economic Crisis hit Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. To give you an example of how bad it was, in October the exchange rate was around 825 Won to the Dollar. By the end of the year it was around 2,000 Won to the Dollar. You can do the math to see how bad it got.
And that was what I was thinking when I went to the bank yesterday to wire—via Western Union—some money to On. Three weeks ago, when I exchanged Won to buy Dollars before I went to Laos, the exchange rate was 1159 Won = $1.00. Yesterday though it was 1279 Won = $1.00 and then today it was 1369 Won = $1.00.
Ouch. Big ouch.
And it made me think about 1997 all over again.
I had a feeling this was going to happen when I read an online news story last night that the Dow had dropped 400 points on Monday. I knew that it was going to have an impact on the Korean markets and currency exchange come Tuesday morning. It did.
And then the Dow dropped again on Tuesday.
Obviously that 700 billion dollar bailout hasn’t assuaged fears and concerns here in Korea. Everyone seems jittery and worried about another economic crisis. And when people start to feel jittery can you bet your weakened bottom dollar that it is going to affect how strong or weak the dollar here is against the Korean Won. And if you are like me having to send out money every month the salary I am making is less now than it was a few months ago.
I know a lot of this jitteriness in Korea has to do with the economic woes back in the States and what I would like to know is what the heck happened? Who the heck was asleep at the wheel to let things get as bad as they did before it took a bailout to prevent the country from sliding further into an economic abyss? Someone needs to be held accountable. I know that I am out of the loop in terms of keeping up with the news back home but I wonder if most Americans are getting angrier and angrier about the way the current administration has screwed things up—both at home and abroad?
When I heard about this shit going down with the bailout, the first thing I thought about was that movie Americathon where a national telethon was held to save America.
I hope for the sake of America and the rest of the world that when November rolls around and people head to the voting booths to cast their votes they don’t forget the mess the current administration has gotten our country in and vote for real change.
The whole world is going to be watching and waiting to see what happens next.
And here in Korea I am praying that the Won/Dollar doesn’t weaken anymore.