I have on many occasions made reference to my Paris apartment, the most economically daring purchase I have ever made and far and away the most rewarding. Now that North Carlina has turned back from its purplish trend to become one of the most appallingly red states in the Union, I think I could not bear life if I did not have the chance to escape to Paris periodically.
Our apartment in Paris is tiny. It is a tad more than 31 square meters, which is to say roughly 330 square feet, a bit more than one-fifth the size of our condo here. [It is a tribute to our marriage that Susie and I can spend five weeks there at a time without filing for divorce.]
Because the apartment is in a prime location, it is, per square meter, fabulously expensive. From time to time I check the postings in the windows of real estate offices and calculate in my head the amount in dollars that our apartment would be worth, and I then experience what is called by economists "the wealth effect," which is to say the illusion one has of being in funds when an illiquid asset one has no intention of selling goes up in price.
Those of you with a special interest in the Eurozone may be aware that in the last several months the value of the Euro has plummeted against the dollar. Last July, one Euro was going for about $1.35. This morning, it was going for $1.12.
How should I react to this news? On the one hand, I have "lost" a bundle because, although the Euro value of the apartment has not declined, the dollar equivalent has taken a beating. On the other hand, when we go to Paris in March for a brief visit during UNC Chapel Hill's Spring Break, everything we buy will be a good deal cheaper, and that is real money, not notional money.
So, should I be feeling richer and splurge on an extra glass of wine at dinner out, or should I be feeling poorer and eat in more often, substituting a cheap fish like Dorade for a pricier fish like Dorade Royale?
Inquiring minds want to know.