My former employer, The Economist, once the ever tolerant editor of my flabby, disjointed, and juvenile prose (Thanks Peter and Marjorie), has released its “Big Mac” index of international currency valuations.
Although initially launched as a joke three decades ago, I have followed it religiously and found it an amazingly accurate predictor of future economic success. The index counts the cost of McDonald’s (MCD) premium sandwich around the world, ranging from $7.20 in Norway to $1.78 in Argentina, and comes up with a measure of currency under and over valuation.
What are its conclusions today? The Swiss franc (FXF), the Brazilian real, and the Euro (FXE) are overvalued, while the Hong Kong dollar, the Chinese Yuan (CYB), and the Thai Baht are cheap. I couldn’t agree more with many of these conclusions. It’s as if the august weekly publication was tapping The Diary of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader for ideas. I am no longer the frequent consumer of Big Macs that I once was, as my metabolism has slowed to such an extent that in eating one, you might as well tape it to my ass. Better to use it as an economic forecasting tool, than a speedy lunch.