Currency Valuation Through A nano Lens

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Some readers may be familiar with The Economist weekly financial magazine and its 20 year-old Big Mac Index. The basic idea is to compare the relative prices of a McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich in various countries around the world to get a rough idea of the purchasing power of a nation’s currency.

Now, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is extending the idea into consumer electronics by comparing the price of the 2 GB iPod nano around the world, based on January 2007 prices. The results? The most expensive place to buy an iPod nano is Brazil, where a 2 GB nano will set you back a whopping USD $327.71. And the cheapest place is, oddly, Canada, where the same unit goes for a scant $144.20.

Apple’s most recent financial results find the company sold more than 21 million of its iPod music players during the quarter including the end-of-year 2006 holiday season, so using one of the company’s music-player products as a way of measuring currencies may not be all that farfetched. However, unlike a Big Mac, the 2 GB iPod nano isn’t going to be around very long: it’s already been replaced in U.S. markets with more capacious versions, and Apple will undoubtedly continue to revise the line, offering greater storage capacity, new features, and more attractive price points. And pricing policy, technology tariffs, and other external factors may skew the results.

Interestingly, the Unites States falls behind Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada in pricing for the 2 GB iPod nano, while the nation where iPods are manufactured, China, falls squarely in the middle of the pack.

Economists might interpret the index to indicate the U.S. dollar can rise against many major world currencies without harming American consumer; however, U.S. government economists might not like the Chinese yuan’s placement in the scale, since the U.S. wants to see China cease manipulation the price of its currency and have its value rise in relation to the U.S. dollar.

World prices for 2GB iPod nano:

  1. Canada $144.20
  2. Hong Kong $147.35
  3. Japan $147.63
  4. U.S. $149.00
  5. Mexico $154.46
  6. Singapore $161.25
  7. Taiwan $164.88
  8. Australia $172.36
  9. New Zealand $172.53
  10. Switzerland $175.59
  11. South Korea $176.17
  12. China $179.84
  13. Germany $192.46
  14. Italy $192.86
  15. Spain $192.86
  16. Netherlands $192.86
  17. Austria $192.86
  18. U.K. $195.04
  19. Ireland $205.79
  20. Finland $205.80
  21. France $205.80
  22. Belgium $205.81
  23. Denmark $208.25
  24. Sweden $213.03
  25. India $222.27
  26. Brazil $327.71

Source: Commonwealth Securities, Ltd.; Apple.


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