By Gary Alan Fine, Northwestern University

As we watch our economy collapse under the weight of doubt, debt, and deficit, it is well to recall that where financial troubles exist, so do rumors. For some five years, some conspiracy minded theorists (men and women who are occasionally correct, although more often mistaken) have argued that secret plans are afoot to create a North American Currency Union, and to replace the dollar (U.S. and Canadian) and the Mexican peso with the Amero, a currency modeled on the now-troubled Euro. As we have grown accustomed to - although not necessarily comfortable with - the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), NACU is the next step, leading to a full-blown North American Union, and, in time, the erasure of the United States as an independent and sovereign nation.

I am not certain but that good arguments might be raised for such a plan of currency union. The plan was originally proposed in 1999 by an economist, Herbert Grubel, at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. But the evidence that supports that such a plan is in the works is thin and watery. There has been support for a currency union in Canada and Mexico, as well as Central America, but little enthusiasm in the United States. Commentators such as Lou Dobbs have suggested that such a plan is being considered, and Ron and Rand Paul are troubled by the possibilities of a plan that would limit United States sovereignty in the name of globalism.

As the rumor takes shape, it often focuses on the Amero coin. The physical objects seem to suggest the reality of such a plan. These coins do exist, a project of a coin designer named Daniel Carr (he designed the New York and Rhode Island state quarters), and he sells versions of these coins (which are quite pretty I attest). However, the existence of these fantasy coins have been used by critics, such as internet talk show host (and white nationalist) Hal Turner to suggest that these Ameros have been minted by the United States government. The presidency of Barack Obama has only given support to such claims that our economy is up for sale to foreign nationals. Along with coins are Amero bills, which, as far as can be demonstrated, are not produced by any governmental agency.

Still, the vitality of these rumors, coupled with America's economic difficulties, suggests that economic rumors make sense in their context. As America appears to trip and slip as the dominant world economic power, it is plausible that concerned citizens will search for evidence that there are hidden forces behind that decline. The Amero is a potent and, for some, plausible revelation of that decline, and a possible claim that America's position as a safe haven investment is no more.

Yes, it is possible to purchase an Amero coin - and it is a sterling creation. But even as economy sinks and sinks, it is worth no more than any souvenir. But, of course, tomorrow is another day. Perhaps we will find a day when we will turn to Mexico, hat in hand, for a bailout.

About the Author

Gary Alan Fine Ph.D.

Gary Alan Fine, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University and co-author of The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter.

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