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Extraordinary items – EC publishes a rate that’s exactly wrong

We’ll skip lightly over the 3,000 balloons they released at the ceremony for the official launch of the euro – puns about high inflation are simply beneath this magazine. We’ll look instead at the extremely useful currency translation device we picked up at the recent Online Information 98 exhibition at London’s Olympia.

It’s quite low-tech – just a cardboard sleeve with a card that slides inside it, with deutschemarks displayed in one window and the euro equivalent in the other. It doesn’t need batteries, but it does only work for deutschemarks.

And because it’s cardboard and not a calculator, the exchange rate it uses was fixed at E1 = DM1.9708.

The real rate was fixed three weeks later at E1 = DM1.95583, an error of 0.76% that we’re sure no German banker would tolerate. Should we be surprised that the organisation responsible for being correct to just a single decimal place is the EC’s own Office for Official Publications?

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