Editor’s note: This post has been edited from its original format (written on March 2, 2013) to reflect the most recent update in currency trading.
“If it look like di money dead, keep a small funeral” – Richard “Dingo” Dingwall (from song “Shopkeeper“)
So there we were, gathered around looking at the once vibrant and full of life, but now motionless figure. Well actually, it moved, but each twitch brought it into further decline. As it struggled to remain alive with the help of life support, we couldn’t help but mourn the tragic (and rapid) decline of the health of the Jamaican dollar.
It wasn’t an easy path that led to this moment. Born on September 8, 1969, there were high hopes for what it would become; what it would accomplish. It dared others to dream. Entrepreneurs, already riding the wave of Independence 7 years before, were inspired to take risks. But there it was, at 100.08:1, having suffered a battering and bruising over the years. It only started to weaken against the USD in the late 1970s. It was around that time that the first IMF agreement was signed. Coincidence, perhaps? Either way, it continued a slow (and barely noticeable) decline well into the 80s. It took a dip on November 23, 1983, when then Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, announced in the House of Representatives that under a new IMF agreement, the dollar has been devalued and placed at a new rate of $3.15. By the time the JLP was voted out of office in February 1989, the dollar had declined to $5.50.
It was only 20-years-old then. Partying during the teen years took its toll, I suppose. We never learn, though. Its most rapid decline in health took place in the very early 90s. After turning 21 – yes, the legal drinking age in the U.S. (Certainly SOMEBODY was drinking). By the end of 1991, it was $21.57 for USD$1.00. Before the decade was over, it was over $45.00 for USD$1.00. It suffered a major blow as a result of the major financial meltdown of the 1990s (which was a local phenomenon, by the way. The rest of the world’s economies were growing).
The year it turned 40 (in 2009), it peaked at $89.64. Yup, that was it. The rough and tumble of the global recession had its effect. But then it got stable…not too long after the former government’s introduction of the JDX. The dollar maintained stability for a year and a half between $85 and $86. Of course, the elections of 2011 happened and there was a change in government. We thought that if the Jamaican dollar made it this far after such a rough run, then surely it can keep up, right?
Well, a little over a year later, here it lies gasping for breath. So before we continue with the service, out of respect, let us observe a moment of silence for our dear loved one.
*moment of silence*
“Ashes to ashes…”
Jamaica, land we love.