Finance Friday – July 1, 2016



This is the number that introduced me to global exchange rates. The fancy Reebok sneakers my friend brought back from London in the mid-80’s cost $12.00, when the same pair was an unfathomable luxury in rural Pennsylvania – $40.00.

Imagine my dismay when I moved to London in 2005 to find that this ratio had reversed.  Those sneakers would have cost 2-3x as much in London vs. Pennsylvania by then.  A small latte was $7.  (Did I mention that caffeine was my #1 food group at the time?)

All of a sudden, this week we’re back to those mid-80’s exchange rates, with the pound clocking in post-Brexit in the $1.30’s.

Of course the latte conversion rate is not the most important or interesting implication of Brexit, but these personal flashbacks are a reminder that it’s been a LONG time since we’ve been here – so long that most portfolio managers have no professional experience with current pound/dollar exchange rates, let alone the circumstances which have led to them.*

What is your own reference point as you try to make sense of recent events?  Recognizing this personal “home port” – along with its particular benefits and its shortcomings – helps us interpret new maps and to navigate choppy seas.

Wishing you safe passage!



*  The average age of portfolio managers is somewhere between 35-45, depending on which study you cite.  This means the average PM was a young child the last time US/UK rates were here.

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