Friday, May 21, 2010

When the Financial World Shrank

In 1958 BOAC launched transatlantic jet airliner service. Banks and other businesses started thinking globally. Among the enthusiasts was Irving Trust. The Irving called attention to its global banking aspirations with a series of colorful ads, including this one from just fifty years ago.

Picture similar traditional costumes on children of the world. Disney did, and the result opened in the Pepsi pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair: "It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all . . ."

In today's global village, businesses large and small routinely operate internationally. Yet the financial side of global life remains inefficient, cumbersome and expensive.

How come a credit card issuer considers it business as usual to charge me an extra three percent if I'm rash enough to charge something in pounds or pesos?

How come the Euro Bloc can't seem to keep its act together?

Shouldn't we be able to do better in the 21st century?


Jim Gust said...

My perspective differs. When I discovered I could use my credit card in Lithuania without worrying about currency exchanges, I was so thrilled that I did not mind paying 3% for privilege. Granted, I might have felt differently about a very major purchase, but for routine vacation expenses it was a small price to pay.

As for the Euro, I tend to agree with those who believe that they put the cart before the horse. Monetary integration has to be built upon a stronger political foundation, not be used to try to create political integration.

JLM said...

Trouble is, I remember when card companies raised the currency-exchange rate to three percent. Before they did so, I enjoyed the same convenience at lower cost.

If I ran a trust department, I'd be wishing it were equally easy to tack an extra one percent on *my* fees.