Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Money Curse

You know, it didn't seem like we spent a lot of money in Argentina, but apparently I was the only thing keeping their economy going. In the picture, the blue arrow points to my departure date. Since leaving the exchange rate has gone from ~20 pesos to the US dollar, to at-time-of-writing 39, largely due to devaluation of their currency (rather than the dollar increasing in value). In retrospect, we did inject a lot of money into the local economy in the form of empanada and medialuna purchases...

This is actually just part of a long chain of me getting "screwed over" when it comes to money in this job. (I use "screwed over" loosely, because realistically I am paid exceedingly well.) When I went to India, the hardship differential pay decreased from 20% to 15% about 3 months before I arrived. It increased back to 20% the week I left. No worries, I was arriving in Buenos Aires with a hefty 42% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)... which dropped to 30% the week I arrived. Prices went up steadily for 2 years, with a incomparably small change in exchange rate... just waiting for me to leave, and now BOOM! All my old coworkers are living the exchange high-life. 

Comically, when I started writing this Post, I was going to include coming to Iceland... where (despite being one of the most expensive places in the world) the COLA is a ridiculously low (35% when I arrived, just barely more than Argentina!) Since we arrived, it's actually decreased three times and is now down to 20%... however, that's because (finally) the exchange rate is helping us out! When I bid on Iceland, the exchange rate was 108 ISK per 1 USD. When we arrived it was down to 103. However, in the last month the krona has tanked, leaving us with a current 124 ISK per 1 USD. That's an effective 20% increase in our spending power since arriving, hard to argue with that! Maybe the curse is broken! 

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