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This just in from the Village Women’s Newswire: US Dollar shall collapse!

Written by on Monday, 10 December 2012
Media and Internet, Turkmenistan

Editor’s Note: The rumor mill that Turkmenistanis depend upon for information, but which they also insightfully nickname the “Village Women’s Newswire” appears, to be going digital. NewEurasia’s Magtymguly Pyragy reports on a recent online scare, and provides translations of the speculations of Turkmenitzens trying to grapple with a terrifying — but at the moment unfounded — monetary apocalypse.

In Turkmenistan people do not get their news from official media. The most effective communication is word of mouth. It is being referred to as the “Aunts’” or “Village Women’s Newswire” (in Turkmen: dayzalar, “aunts”; obanyn ayallary, “village women”), i.e., the rumors or gossip spread by housewives and the like that is often believed to be reliable even if there is no reason to believe that. Indeed, some believe that some “reports” on this “Newswire” are being deliberately leaked by government officials, either to test the reaction of the population or to make people get used to something that is imminent, such as price hikes. Typically as with rumors, such “reports” have in some cases actually proven to be true, which is why it is hard to tell people to stop depending on this method of information. Worst of all, these “reports” can spread like wildfire, because information conditions in Turkmenistan are so terrible and boredom is so much that it is almost like infotainment.

One recent case has made rounds made Turkmenistan’s people to panickedly change their dollars for Turkmen manats: a post on the Facebook group of the new site SalamTurkmen about the imminent collapse of the US dollar, specifically in January 2013. Currently, 1 dollar stands at 2.84 manats, but if the rumors are true, it shall fall to 1.6 manats. The SalamTurkmen post has unleashed wild speculations from users, highlights of which that I think reveal a lot of Turkmen mindset at the moment I translate here:

M.A.: “If the value of the dollar falls it would be very good for the people, but would cost the state a lot of money. It would be good for the people, but it has also a reverse side. If the dollar falls and the price of the goods stay the same according to calculation on dollars, nothing would change. But it would be good for the student.”

I.C.: “Nothing will happen. It’s probably a game by dollar traders to make a profit.”

B.N.: “Now as it is you pay 284 manats for a good worth 100 dollars. If dollar falls and manat rises, 100 dollars would be equal to 150 manats and it would mean that you can buy for 150 manats what you would otherwise get for 284 manats. This, my friends, would be quite useful for us.”

M.M.: “I think that according to the current state system there is no production but everything is being imported from abroad, therefore if dollar falls it would be great. Our people working in Turkey, the boys and girls would return to our homeland.” [Ed.: Cf. Annasoltan's 2010 post on the plight of Turkmen workers in Turkey.]

E.H.: “People, if the dollar falls it would not be good at all for us. If you ask me why, if the dollar has a low value everything would be expensive. For example when a dollar was equal to 25 manats once things were cheap but now with 14 manats for a dollar a lot of things have got expensive. Therefore try to think in broader terms.“

M.B.: “Could these rumors be possibly true? Yes, they could. If the dollar falls, more disadvance than advantage can be expected. 1. The state would slip into a crisis. 2. Clothing, electronic devices and other stuff coming from abroad would get more expensive because they are bought on dollars. The people working abroad would return, this time coming back with eyes open but since there would be no jobs for them there could be protests or the like. Furthermore, it would be a difficult situation for valyutchiks [Ed.: i.e. those trading in foreign currencies] ;)”

Anon.: “The manat would gain value and our money and incomes would equal international standards. Then, our people working abroad would come back. The foreign companies in Turkmenistan working based on condition of dollars would want to leave because their profits would be reduced. The benefit for Turkmenistan would be extremely big.”

And me? I also belong to those who wish the dollar to fall, the national currency to gain value and the imported goods to become less expensive.

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