Nominal shocks

by on May 10, 2011 at 12:00 am in Economics, Uncategorized | Permalink

Samoa, the tiny Pacific Ocean island state, is travelling through time to improve its economic prospects.

In a vote of confidence for the Asian century, the country has decided to shift the jagged International Date Line to its east at the end of this year, which will bring it a day closer to Asia and Australasia.

The clocks in Apia, the capital, are 21 hours behind Canberra but only four hours behind San Francisco.

That reverses a decision 119 years ago to move the line to the west, following lobbying by Samoa’s merchants who wanted better to accommodate business with trading ships from the US and Europe.

It is not the first overhaul of a long-standing convention by Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, prime minister, who in 2009 switched the nation from driving on the right to the left, to align it more closely with the practice in Australasia and Japan.

“In doing business with New Zealand and Australia we’re losing out on two working days a week,” Mr Tuilaepa said. “While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.”

Australia and New Zealand combined account for more than half of Samoa’s imports and more than 85 per cent of total exports, which largely consist of coconut products and fish.

…However, the move has not been universally welcomed, particularly in tourism, as the island will no longer be the last place on earth to see sunset. It will be joining the countries that see the sunrise first.

“After the date change, it will just be another sunset, no longer that special,” said Andrew Tiatia, a tour guide.

Mr Tuilaepa, however, points to another advantage. By flying one hour from American Samoa, on the other side of the date line, it will be possible to celebrate the same day twice and mark birthdays or wedding anniversaries twice over.

I enjoy stories like this more than is reasonably justified.

Rahul May 10, 2011 at 12:45 am

Was this the same place that wanted to shift the date line in 2000 so that it got the big chunk of the tourist traffic wanting to flock to the first place to move into the new millennium?

JJ May 10, 2011 at 2:23 am

There’s a typo in the original… they’re 4 hours ahead of San Francisco, not 4 hours behind.

Robbie May 10, 2011 at 3:34 am

@JJ The original is correct. They are currently west of San Franciso but soon will be very far East of San Franciso.Places to the west are behind in time, e.g. New York is behind London but ahead of New York

JJ May 10, 2011 at 5:22 am

Mea culpa

RR May 10, 2011 at 11:27 am

“New York is behind London but ahead of New York.”

That explains its schizophrenia.

E. Barandiaran May 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Don’t worry it’s quite common among monetary economists that believe that money is not neutral.

dearieme May 10, 2011 at 6:33 am

” who in 2009 switched the nation from driving on the right to the left, to align it more closely with the practice in Australasia and Japan.” More closely? I had thought that driving on the left or on the right might be one of those binary issues. Except in Belgium, of course.

Tracy W May 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

While I’ve never been to Samoa, in my experience small Pacific islands are more laid back about these things.
And then of course, there’s the American tourists in Australasia on remote back country roads where they don’t see another car for 1 hour and thus forget.

Ronan L May 10, 2011 at 7:09 am

I guess there goes my idea of creating one stock and futures exchange across Fiji and Samoa, to give round-the-clock and over-the-weekend (mostly) trading!

John Mansfield May 10, 2011 at 7:43 am

When Samoa shifts, which day will it skip? Given the stated purpose, bettter commercial alignment, the skipped day should be a Saturday or Sunday, but I suspect a shorted four-day work week is what will happen. Which day would be best to miss?

E. Barandiaran May 10, 2011 at 7:44 am

Tyler, this post shows that you are anti-Keynesian –a believer in the neutrality of money. I hope your many followers agree with you and waste no time discussing nominal shocks.

Mulberry May 13, 2011 at 6:44 am

Given the stated purpose, bettter commercial alignment, the skipped day should be a Saturday or Sunday,the skipped day should be a Saturday or Sunday

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