FRANCE: The Sou Shall Rise Again

"A sou is a sou," the French used to say, pocketing the 5-centime change on their glass of Pernod. But this ancient expression of French thrift became meaningless when, with the fall of the franc that began with World War I, the sou gradually descended to its present poker-chip worthlessness of one-hundredth of an American cent.

One of De Gaulle's first major steps towards putting France's house in order last December was stabilizing the franc at 493.7 to the dollar through a devaluation of 17.5%. The stabilization worked, but the low esteem of the franc as a unit of foreign...

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