In many countries, U.S. greenbacks are not all the same


My hot and sour soup was doubly good.

Seasoned travelers learn quickly that merchants and money changers may well reject U.S. currency that does not meet their standards.

A tiny tear, too much wrinkling or an unsightly smudge may well upend a transaction.  The New York Times’ Thomas Fuller has an amusing video on his problems changing money in Myanmar.

As someone who has traveled far and wide and worked on introducing newly designed U.S. currency to the world, I accepted a crisp $2 note unthinkingly in change from the driver of a motorbike with whom I had ridden to the Riverside neighborhood of Phnom Penh.  (I rarely take advantage of such casual “taxi” services such as motos or tuk-tuks.)

I guess I was so intrigued by the appearance of that denomination, which I never have seen here in Cambodia and hadn’t seen in the U.S. for quite some time, that Continue reading

Where’s that bottom everyone is talking about?

Buyers seem not only to be looking again, but they are starting to make offers.  And the offers are less likely to be insulting than they were just a couple of months ago.  Much of the activity appears to be centered on properties listed below $1 million, though buyers at higher levels clearly are less gun-shy than they were in the recent past.

If you doubt the foregoing information, have a look at Sunday’s New York Times, which leads the Real Estate section with a long piece that has the following headline:

Bidding Wars Resume

Regular readers of this blog and my e-newsletter won’t be surprised by the news: I have been warning that such wars would reappear once there occurred a perception that the bottom was here or approaching.  (However, my timing was a bit off; I didn’t expect that change until sometime next year. In any case, I doubt the trend is widespread yet.)

Ask buyers about their renewed interest, and the answers are almost the same: Continue reading