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Could a Joke Rename Australia’s Currency?

June 3rd, 2017 by

There’s that saying about how “a great deal of truth is said in jest.” It’s true that sometimes comedy can reveal some important point that has been overlooked or underappreciated.

This is probably not the case with the joke that appeared on a 1995 episode of The Simpsons that, in the show’s typical ridiculous manner, suggested Australian money was called “Dollarydoos.”

However, there’s a popular petition circulating in Australia now that proposes to do just that!

The Dollarydoo

Keep in mind that petitions for all sorts of wacky causes are drawn up and promoted every day. However, this petition to officially change the name of the Australian dollar (which is usually distinguished from the American currency by using the symbol A$ before the amount) has already attracted more than 50,000 signatures!

The name “Dollarydoo” is a play on the didgeridoo, the aboriginal horn instrument that is a popular symbol of Australia and other islands in the Pacific.

Nicknames for currencies are not particularly uncommon. Usually, the Australian dollar is merely called the “Aussie.” The New Zealand dollar is aptly nicknamed the Kiwi, after their national bird. Similarly, the Canadian dollar is sometimes referred to as the Loonie for the name of the bird (loon) that appears on the country’s $1 coins. In the U.S., we have greenbacks and bucks instead of the humdrum “dollar.”

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However, none of these governments have actually changed the official name of their currency in response to the widely used monikers. Yet according to MarketWatch,

The [Dollarydoo] petitioner, who identifies himself on Change.org as an Australian named Thomas Probst, argues that the new name would stimulate the economy by creating demand for the country’s currency.

“This will make millions of people around the world want to get their hands on some Australian currency due to the real-life Simpsons reference, driving up the value of the Australian currency,” the petition’s author writes.

Would the potential name recognition associated with The Simpsons actually help the Australian dollar? Is any of this a real possibility? Almost certainly not. However, in most democracies, if you can get enough citizens to support an initiative or petition, it must at least be considered by the legislature or put to a referendum. In the U.K., any petition with 100,000 signatures requires debate in Parliament. Maybe the “Dollarydoo” concept will have its day in the limelight before being rejected on the grounds that it’s plain silly.

Valuable Lesson

What’s perhaps most interesting is that the supposed premise of the petition is based on the notion that a stronger currency leads to greater economic growth. Ironically, this is exactly the opposite of what central banks tend to believe and practice. For policymakers, a weaker currency is generally viewed as a good thing, as it helps boost exports to other countries. Australia’s central bank cut interest rates last year; in 2016 alone, the currency fell 17% against the U.S. dollar. Right now, the Aussie dollar is hovering around 74¢ in terms of USD. (It traded in parity with the dollar as recently as 2013, and in the preceding year was actually worth more than its American counterpart in foreign exchange.)

So if nothing else, this facetious petition reveals some of the more illogical aspects of modern monetary policy.

You can find the relevant clip (taken from Youtube) below:

 

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