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Opinions of Thursday, 7 December 2006

Columnist: Amoako-Tuffour, Joe

Re-Making the Cedi (¢)

Many build and mould their life’s work around me.
I come simply, an intrinsically worthless piece of paper.
Baptized by fiat and the sprawling signature of a Governor
I’m what I am because society says so.
For decades you’ve progressively diminished my worth
Yet adorned with new colours, and new images.
You fellows just tell me what to be, and that I’ll be.
Just tell me what to do, and that I’ll do.
Measure value, store value, pay for goods and services
Three common reasons for my existence.

Like the flag, I represent identity of nationhood.
Privileged, I’m your identity of progress and respectability.
Like the pound, dollar, yen or euro
My value a national pride of well-being.
Or lack of it.
Debauch me at your peril.
Debauched, I cannot tell you what use I’ll be to you.
Surely, I can do less.
Surely, I’ll be heavy, ha uled by the bagful To shop for anything substantial
“There is no subtler, surer means of overturning
the existing basis of society than to debauch (your) currency”, said Keynes.

In the fiscal thunderstorms of the 70s, 80s and 90s
Politicians in their secret recess
Yearned for more of me at the pen’s stroke
Oblivious to the lessons of history
To feed spending ambitions
This spur of greed both bizarre and perilous
Binding you to the yoke of inflation
The inevitable cost when sound money gives way to weak money.
“The history of money teaches much.
Or it can be made to teach much”, said Kenneth Galbraith.

Cradle me like a love child
From the fiscal thorns of this world
Your sweat and toil shall be dignified
Your fortunes secured, predictably.
How great the joy to be progressively dignified
Come the Golden Jubilee year.
The pesewa, nearly lost in everyday life, ecstatic.

I shall wait for the midnight stroke, first of July 2007
For the ensemble of fontonfrom drums

To gather for my outdooring.
But this is December 2006.
Six or seven months will soon be fled.
Enough time to slim to a more shaply size
4 zeros to be joyfully shed
From 10,000 to 1, Ambitious? Yes!
Will gladly accept three
Size 10,000 to size 10
But there are no guideposts here.
Just what might fit the facts and the psychology of the situation better.
In your buy and sell, in your fortunes held, it should matter not.
No need to change strategies for choosing consumption, investment portfolios and so on.
No need to switch to and fro, a lender or borrower be.
Efficiency is the goal to seek.

To preserve value and usefulness require no great leap of imagination.
The story has been told many times before.
From Austria to Argentina, Bolivia, Poland, Zimbabwe, name a few.
By now it should be widely understood.
Resist the frequency of fiscal crisis.
It’s myopic to lean heavily on the central bank for public finance.
Perhaps the time has come to adjust thinking
Perhaps there ought to be a set of rules
About public expenditures relative to prospective revenues
Against imprudent exercise of fiscal authority
And the lure of unrestrained easy money.
Central bank exists for a public purpose
To protect my value and usefulness is the least it can offer society
Admittedly, a delicate and challenging task.
But let not the benefits of price stability at home
And the benefits of stable exchange rate be lost on you.
I dream to reign along the Gulf of Guinea.
I am the Cedi (¢)

Joe Amoako-Tuffour teaches economics at St. Francis Xavier University, Canada.

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