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1997-11-13 15:32:49


An Extra $30 Billion to Fix the Euro



U.S. businesses will have spend an extra $30 billion to make their systems compliant with Europe's new Eurocurrency system. If they don't do this, they will be locked out of the new system.

This assumes, of course, that the new system will ever be implemented. If it isn't, then kiss the $30 billion goodbye.

The story apperared in US NEWS (Nov. 11).

* * * * * * *

Even before it is introduced on Jan. 1, 1999, the long-awaited euro threatens to cost American business $30 billion or more to buy new software and recode old programs, as companies with interests on the other side of the Atlantic attempt to adapt to the new currency. No later than Dec. 31, 1998, people doing business in Europe will have to rewrite their computer software to handle three different base currencies at once. The value of the euro will have to be determined on a daily basis by its relationship to both the dollar and other European currencies. In other words, every bill, every financial statement, and every stock price in the nine countries set to join what is known as the European Monetary Union will have to be "triangulated." So far, says Sarwar Kashmeri, a corporate consultant specializing in the issue, no commercial software exists to make that calculation. "We have been focusing very hard on the year-2000 problem, but we've been missing the euro," says Gary Johnson, an American attorney specializing in European securities markets. . . .

Though the euro will be introduced in January 1999, it will not become the sole currency in Europe until July 1, 2002. On that date, all other currencies will be taken out of circulation. While a large part of the U.S. business community remains skeptical that Europe will pull off this monetary feat, many companies have begun to accept that it will. A few have begun to take steps. DuPont, which has a significant presence in Europe, has put together a team to prepare for the introduction of the currency. United Parcel Service has done the same. Both firms are looking into how to adapt their computer systems.


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