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US Tax deadline April 15, and June 17 for US expats abroad

Just a friendly reminder that the April 15th tax deadline is fast approaching with our friends at the IRS. Americans living abroad have until June 17th to file their returns, but still any taxes owed to the US government that are outstanding must be paid by April 15th.

For those in France, the US Embassy Paris has a page dedicated to taxation resources, including many links to IRS and forms (like the 2555-EZ form for Foreign Earned Income Tax Exclusion). As the article stipulates, if you’re American and work and reside outside the US, you may be able to exclude up to $95,100 USD annually in foreign income. Check out the links above for further information.

AARO has some views on taxation of Americans abroad, worth the read.

AFP: Energy bill, euro fall, hit French trade balance

August 6th, 2010 1 comment

This article courtesy of AFP.

(PARIS) – The French trade balance showed a reduced deficit in June but an increased gap for the first six months of the year, data from the economy ministry showed on Friday.

In June the deficit fell to 3.796 billion euros (5.0 billion dollars) from 5.179 billion euros in May.

The fall came after exports picked up to total 33.0 billion euros in the month from 30.0 billion euros in May, helped mainly by sales of equipment for transportation, notably airliners.

But for the first six months, the deficit increased to 24.5 billion euros from 20.4 billion euros for the same period of last year.

The trade balance is an important indicator of the competitiveness of an economy and the ability of a country to pay its way in the world in trade in goods and services. The trade data form part of an even more critical measure of long-term fundamental forces in the economy, the balance of payments.

France has been running a structural trade deficit for some time, and analysts say that this reflects a number of underlying weaknesses in the economy.

The deficit over six months increased mainly because of an increase in the energy import bill, as denominated in the euro which has fallen against the dollar.

The ministry noted that exports had risen by 10.0 percent in the first half on a 12-month comparison and that for the second quarter they had risen by 6.0 percent.

Junior Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac said that this “shows the capacity of French exports to bounce back as the economy emerges from the crisis.”

She welcomed a particularly big increase in trade with emerging economies.

Separate data from the budget ministry showed that the central state budget showed a sharply reduced deficit of 61.7 billion euros at the end of June from 82.4 billion euros in the first six months of last year.

This reflected the ending of exceptional measures to stimulate the economy through the downturn and a rise of tax revenues, it said.

The central government budget is one of three components forming the public deficit, which is the figure used by the European Union to measure excessive deficits.

EU countries, and notably countries in the eurozone, are bound to contain any public deficit to less than 3.0 percent of output. Several countries, including France, have far higher ratios, notably because of the costs of facing the global economic downturn.

France, in common with several other countries, is now working on reforms to reduce its structural deficit.

US dollar, Eurozone economy a mixed bag for expats

November 14th, 2009 2 comments

Although I have a French bank account, I know as an American expat that going to the ATM (cash machine) to withdraw from my American account is a matter of strategic timing. I’m always keeping my eye on the markets and the exchange rate for US dollars to Euros so that I can get the biggest bang for my buck, even though it is at miserable levels. At the time of this posting, it is 1.492 USD = 1 Euro ($1 = 0.67 centimes).

US dollar - Euro rate

As the Euro rises against the dollar, more and more American expats are feeling the squeeze when withdrawing from US accounts.

The US dollar looks to remain at low levels for quite some time, judging from the recent decision of the US Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low for the time being (thus technically making it easier to borrow and consequently spend money, undermining the value of the dollar by way of supply and demand of liquidity).

Also playing a role: the inflation-weary European Central Bank announcing hints of an “exit strategy” from stimulus. The ECB has been quite cautious in the past about lowering interest rates, so that contributes to a stronger Euro overall. But they too have voiced concern about a weaker US dollar. Indeed, Airbus (EADS) has suffered because its production costs are in Euros but it sells its airplanes in dollars. There is even an idea of moving some production to US dollar economies.

Meanwhile, with US economic growth in the last quarter at 3.5% largely driven by the stimulus program (like “cash for clunkers” and helping negotiate lower mortgage rates for home owners), the US government is happy with a low-value dollar that is driving export growth. This is good for the US economy but bad for expats like me when withdrawing US dollars into Euros. I also know that generally when the US stock markets are up, the dollar usually gets a bit weaker. So when the US markets are up, it is bittersweet as an expat.

How are you fellow expats dealing with this issue?

According to recent reports listed below, the Eurozone economy may be officially coming out of a recession, but there remains pessimism about unemployment and sustainable growth in the mid-term. Much is similar in the US.

In fact the whole concept of GDP has been put into question by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz in France, as well as by BusinessWeek magazine. But this is an issue for another discussion.

HiFX –Europe’s job market indicates caution for money transfers

HiFX –Eurozone recession figures may bring optimism to expats making money transfers

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