Most people only make money by travelling because they have to visit distant locations to do their jobs. Or they might be drivers or pilots or railroad engineers whose work requires constant movement. Also, some enterprises use travel itself as a perquisite or fringe benefit to enhance the compensation package and expand the total rewards program. A recent story shows a different type of travel/comp relationship. Currency problems in some nations have made travel an occasion for some people to “make money” by acquiring U.S. dollars and converting them on the black market upon their return.
Although we take it for granted, we should remember that the principal responsibility of the U.S. Secret Service is the protection of American currency. Presidential guard duty wasn’t added to their list of duties until 1902. Without their continuing (although typically unrecognized) stalwart efforts to sustain the integrity of our economy, American money would be no good. If the value of U.S. dollar falls, so does the buying power of our compensation. Currency problems could make our money literally worthless.
Don’t want to point fingers at unfortunate nations elsewhere, but it is not hard to find many countries that constantly struggle to sustain positive economies due to shaky currencies. Actually, it’s probably more likely that their currencies rise and fall due to their shaky economies, rather than the other way around.
Argentina’s continual inflation undercuts the ability of citizens to sustain even minimal lifestyle levels. The later long-delayed publication of a required economic report further threatened the value of citizen incomes. Bolivia is another American nation with frequent currency issues that complicate economic transactions. On the other side of the world, China and South Korea worry about the Japanese Yen because manipulations can affect both employment and wages for workers throughout Asia. Wherever economic news is bad, the purchasing power of workers suffers; and that puts great pressure on employers.
The generally quiet but extremely effective work of the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury has spared this nation from currency problems that routinely rock other countries. But since they don't typically seek (or get) headlines for their activities, they get little appreciation for those consistent successes. Don't forget that the value of American remuneration progams depends on the ability of bureaucrats working with low profiles behind the scenes to maintain the health of our economy.
Sometimes no news is good news. That certainly appears to be true when it comes to the currency that backs up American remuneration programs, so this is a good time to count our blessings.
E. James (Jim) Brennan is Senior Associate of ERI Economic Research Institute, the premier publisher of interactive pay and living-cost surveys. After over 40 years in HR corporate and consulting roles throughout the U.S. and Canada, he’s pretty much been there done that (articles, books, speeches, seminars, radio/TV, advisory posts, in-trial expert witness stuff, etc.), serves on the Advisory Board of the Compensation and Benefits Review and will express his opinion on almost anything.
Creative Commons image "Exchange Money Converted to Common Currency" by epSos.de