Purchasing Power Parity, But Not As You Know it

A microstory of what you can do with Bs.100 in Dijon.

The Master’s Degree is in English and many of us don’t speak French, so the Department of Physics at the University of Burgundy in Dijon asks professors to volunteer with international students, helping us with the practicalities of getting settled: opening a French bank account, registering at the university, insurances, books, etc. My helper is this chubby, energetic, jolly professor in his late 40s. He’s really engaged with every new students cohort, and he’s just been a ton of help.


The next time I saw him, he told me he had accepted the bill because his butcher collects banknotes from around the w

To show some gratitude, I gave him a Bs.100 bill as a souvenir from Venezuela. To my surprise, this made him uncomfortable. He offered to trade it for Euros. I told him there was no need, since it was barely worth anything. He insisted, and I told him if he gave me 10 euro cents I’d still be overcharging him.

“And this is the highest denominated bill you have?!” He couldn’t believe it. He gave me 20 cents.

The next time I saw him, he told me he had accepted the bill because his butcher collects banknotes from around the world. The butcher was thrilled by this unexpected gift and gave him two sausages in return…one of which he gave to me.

So, summing up, I traded a hundred bolivar bill for 20 euro cents and a sausage with nuts. It’s the best 100 bolos I’ve spent in my life.

 

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