Venezuela’s Money Is So Worthless It’s Printing Bigger Bills

[Economy ★★★]

1095345-13-20161204101931

(P1) Venezuela said it will issue higher-denominated bills as triple-digit inflation and a currency meltdown leaves the country’s largest banknote worth just around 2 US cents on the black market. The central bank said Saturday that six new bills ranging from 500 to 20,000 Bolivars will begin circulating on Dec. 15, reports the AP. Currently, the largest denominated bill is 100 bolivars, while a 2-liter soft drink bottle can cost 25 times that. The new bills come as Venezuela is bordering on economic collapse. The currency lost 67% of its value on the black market last month, falling to 4,587 bolivars per US dollar, the steepest monthly plunge ever, according to Dolar Today, which tracks the black market rate by monitoring transactions with the currency at foreign exchange houses across the border in Colombia.

(P2) Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to surpass four digits next year, per the IMF. Cash has become impossible to find with ATM withdrawals capped at an extremely low amount and Friday the nation’s credit card system froze for hours. President Nicolas Maduro blamed a “cyber attack” and ordered the Sebin intel service to raid CrediCard, which processes payment for Visa and MasterCard. He’s also accused “mafias” in neighboring Colombia of trying to carry out an “economic coup” against his socialist-run economy. “The right wing wants to impose on Venezuela a parallel exchange rate from an account in Miami, and from that account take the dollar to a disastrously crazy level,” Maduro said. Venezuela has maintained strict currency controls since 2003 and currently has two legal exchange rates of 10 and 663 bolivars per dollar used for priority imports. On the black market, where people turn when they can’t obtain government approval to purchase dollars at legal rates, the bolivar has collapsed by a factor of five in the past year.

WORDS: 300

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/234942/venezuelas-money-is-so-worthless-its-printing-bigger-bills.html

VOCABULARY: inflation, denominated, black market, plunge, surpass, raid, coup

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What is the cost of living like in your country?
  3. In your opinion, why are some currencies weaker than others? (For example Venezuela vs the USA)
  4. Are there caps on the amount of money you can withdraw from an ATM in your country? If so, what’s the max amount you can withdraw?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. How much is the largest paper bill worth in Venezuela’s black market?
  2. What’s the amount of the highest new banknote that is being released in Venezuela?
  3. The leader of Venezuela is __________________.
  4. Who’s being blamed for an economic coup in Venezuela?
  5. What is the name of the currency in Venezuela?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • currency meltdown (P1)
  • foreign exchange houses (P1)
  • ATM withdrawals capped at an extremely low amount
  • strict currency controls (P2)

Cambly Practice Button

Image source: by AP Photo/Howard Yanes, File http://www.newser.com/story/234942/venezuelas-money-is-so-worthless-its-printing-bigger-bills.html

Top 8 Cities Where Pay Goes Furthest (USA)

[Economy ★★]

colormap

(P1) If you want to make your paycheck go further in the USA, it may be better to live in a midsize city rather than a large one. This can also be true if the jobs you could get in a major metropolis pay more. That’s the finding of Glassdoor. They compared the average base salary to the average home value. Sometimes home prices are higher in bigger cities.

(P2) Glassdoor used this data to figure out the top 25 cities. Here are the top eight:

  1. Detroit, Michigan – 50% (cost-of-living ratio); $61,500 (average base salary); $123,100 (average home value)
  2. Memphis, Tennesse – 46%; $52,000; $112,100
  3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania –  45%; $56,896; $126,700
  4. Cleveland, Ohio – 44%; $55,000; $125,500
  5. Indianapolis, Indiana –  43%; $56,000; $130,200
  6. Louis, Missouri –  40%; $56,896; $141,900
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio; 40%; $57,179; $143,400
  8. Birmingham, Alabama – 40%; $50,800; $128,000

(P3) Check out other cities in the Glassdoor ranking. (If you choose to live in a big city instead, here are some top picks.)

WORDS: 164

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/comments/231093/top-8-cities-where-pay-goes-furthest.html

VOCABULARY: paycheck, midsize, metropolis, compared, figure

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Would you like to visit any of these cities? Why or why not?
  3. Is it cheaper to live in a big or midsize city in your country? Why?
  4. Are the home values in your country high or low?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Your money will go further if you live in a large metropolis. (T or F)
  2. Who did the study?
  3. Which city tops the list?
  4. Who came in the number three spot?
  5. What’s the average base salary in Birmingham, Alabama?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • go further (P1)
  • base salary (P1)
  • home value (P1)
  • check out (P3)

Cambly Practice Button

Image source: by enchantedlearning.com https://angeronmymind.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/us-cities1.gif?w=480&h=336

Swiss vote no to free monthly income for all

[Economy ★★]

swiss_vote_on_xmarxist_dreamx_basic_income_to_every_citizen_1718483346

(P1) Swiss voters rejected a plan to introduce a guaranteed monthly income for all citizens. Almost 77 percent of voters said no. The idea was for a minimum salary of around $2,500 for those who have been a citizen for five years, whether they worked or not. Supporters said it was necessary to replace Switzerland’s social welfare system to fight poverty and inequality. It would also give more money to people who earned below the minimum wage.

(P2) Supporters argued that automation was reducing the number of jobs available. The campaign group Basic Income Switzerland said the money would not be for doing nothing. It said: “In Switzerland, over 50 percent of total work that is done is unpaid. It’s care work. It’s at home. It’s in different communities so that work would be more valued with a basic income.” Opponents said: “You would have billions of people who would try to move into Switzerland.”

WORDS: 155

SOURCE: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1606/160608-basic-income-4.html

VOCABULARY: rejected, poverty, inequality, automation, campaign, unpaid

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you agree or disagree with a guaranteed monthly for all citizens? Why?
  3. Does your country have a social welfare system? Tell about it.
  4. Why do you think people live in poverty?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What percentage of the voters said no to the basic income proposal?
  2. The Swiss citizens said the current social welfare program needs to be replaced. (T or F)
  3. What is the name of the group for the basic income proposal?
  4. People against the free income said millions would go to Switzerland to live. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Social welfare system (P1)
  • Minimum wage (P1)
  • Care work (P2)
  • Basic income (P2)

Cambly Practice Button

Image source: Credit: Reuters https://thewire.in/41211/swiss-reject-free-money-in-a-national-vote-say-no-to-universal-basic-income/