Why are currency conversion quotes the wrong way round?

I notice that sites such as Google Finance quote the pound to dollar conversion rates in the form GBP/USD = 1.4784. I would read this as "GBP per USD = 1.4784" or equivalently "1.4784 GBP per
USD" which is obviously the wrong way round.
When we quote speeds for example we say mph (or m/h) = 50 - meaning there are 50 miles for each hour. It's the same with all other rates in the physical sciences. And to calculate the rate of a/b (i.e. a per b) you just divide the number of a's by the equivalent number of b's.
So why do economists use an illogical and misleading convention?
Thanks Thomas
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On Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:45:58 +0100, Thomas put finger to keyboard and typed:

It's 1 GBP divided by 1 USD. The / is a normal division symbol.

Speed is an entirely different concept to currency conversion. To me, a/b doesn't mean a per b, it means a divided by b. The use of a slash as a shorthand for "per" is entirely different to its use in mathematics. And currency conversion is a simple mathematical calculation.

It's perfectly logical and not misleading at all. The misleading use of a slash is to use it to mean something other than "divided by".
Mark
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"Mark Goodge" wrote in message
On Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:45:58 +0100, Thomas put finger to keyboard and typed:

That can't be right - 1 divided by 1 is 1 !
Logically, it has to be 1 GBP divided by the equivalent number of USD or alternatively the cost of some appropriate asset (e.g. gold) in GBP divided by its cost in USD. Either way, you won't get GBP/USD = 1.4(ish)

How is speed entirely different from currency conversion - they both allow you to convert from one unit to another (or alternatively to convert the rate of change of one unit with respect to another). The 'per' and 'divided by' interpretations are equivalent. To calculate the number of miles per hour we're travelling we divide the number of miles by the time taken to travel those miles.

I beg to differ :-)
Thomas
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On Tue, 14 Apr 2015 20:21:38 +0100, Thomas put finger to keyboard and typed:

Which, if you look carefully, is why it's 1 GBP divided by 1 USD. The units matter.

You can't "convert" distance into time. You can't go to a hypothetical physics bank and say "here are some miles, please can I have the equivalent number of hours". Speed is a measurement in its own right, not the result of a calculation of two different units of the same thing. Distance and time are not equivalents. They do not do the same thing.
Currency conversion, on the other hand, is simply the calculation of relative values of different units of the same thing: money. GBP and USD are both units of money, they both do exactly the same thing. You can, therefore, convert between them.
Mark
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I appreciate your efforts, but nothing you say makes much sense to me.
Clearly there is a long established convention of GBP/USD not meaning GBP per USD (nor GPB divided by the equivalent value in USD) and we have to live with that. But to someone brought up in the physical sciences it's neither logical nor informative.
Thanks Thomas
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Talking to myself again :-)
Look at it another way.
If I want to convert $100 to £'s then I need to multiply by something that has units of £/$ - aka GBP/USD. But clearly the conventionally quoted GBP/USD rate won't do that, instead I need to divide my dollars by that rate giving me something which has units of $^2/£. It's crazy, no wonder economics doesn't qualify as a science :-)
Thanks Thomas
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On 14/04/2015 21:07, Thomas wrote:

Hm!
Try 1GBP = 1.4784USD.
Moving the USD on the right of that equation to the left of the = sign puts it under the GBP.
Also 1GBP / 1.4784USD = 1. The different units cancel out to give a number because they are related. They are both units of money which have a defined relationship between them.
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"Old Codger" wrote in message

So GBP/USD = 1.4784. How do read that, surely not as pounds per dollar = 1.4784.
But continuing with the theme of preserving units. To convert $100 to £'s we need to multiply by £/$ which in your case is 1.4784 - so $100 = £147.84 :-)
Thomas
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On 14/04/15 23:29, Thomas wrote:

The value of a pound divided by the value of a dollar (which seems to me to pounds per dollar before spread and commission).
GBP and USD are both units with dimensions of money.
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On 15/04/15 08:06, David Woolley wrote:

It is, of course, dollars per pound.

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Which is of course the inverse of how x/y would normally be read
Thomas
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On Tue, 14 Apr 2015 23:29:06 +0100, Thomas wrote:

You're overthinking it.
There's 1.4784 of the smaller ones to the bigger one. EVERYBODY knows dollars are smaller than pounds.
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GBP/USD=1.4784
Therefore, multiplying each side by USD:
GBP=1.4784 x USD
Or, to verbalise it:
1 GB Pound equals 1.4784 US Dollars.
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On Wed, 15 Apr 2015 09:23:22 +0100, Norman Wells wrote:

Like I said. Overthinking.
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By which I assume you mean £1 is equivalent to $1.4783.
Ok, let's do the same trick with speed. Let's say I'm travelling at a constant speed so that: miles/hour = 60 Therefore multiplying each side by hours: miles` hours or to verbalise it: 1 mile is equivalent to 60 hours. which doesn't seem quite right does it?

It might help...
Suppose I want to create a graph of the cost of imported wheat compared with the dollar exchange rate. I put time in years along the bottom axis and the cost of wheat in £/tonne on the left axis - so far so conventional. Now I'm expected to put the value of the pound in £/$ on the right axis but actually plot "The value of £1 divided by the value of $1" Yes, that's very clear, very informative.
Thanks Thomas
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>><sigh> It's simple mathematics, obviously no longer taught in schools.

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On 16/04/15 09:43, Thomas wrote:

That's wrong. The correct formulation is:
speed = 60 * miles / hour or in the posh scientific form:
speed = 60 miles.h**-1
speed has dimensions length * (time**-1)
miles has dimensions length
hours has dimensions time.
If you you multiply both sides by hours, you get
speed * hour = 60 * miles
which is not very useful, but if you then divide both sides by miles, you get:
speed / miles*(hours **-1) = 60, the left hand side of which is basically how a physicist would label an axis of a graph express in speed in imperial units. (With the right units and typesetting, it would be more like speed / ms-¹.)
miles/hour` is completely wrong as you are equating a pure number wit h something that has two dimensions.
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Obviously it's wrong - that was rather my point. To make it work we'd have to read it as something like: "the cost of driving 1 mile divided by the cost of driving for 1 hour" AND we'd need to equate that to the *inverse* of what mph is commonly interpreted as, giving us
mph = 1/60.
Which now of course makes perfect sense!
Personally, when I see a column of numbers headed mph or £/$ I'd prefer to be able to interpret those numbers consistently, but it seems that economists like to do things differently.
Thanks Thomas
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}Personally, when I see a column of numbers headed mph or £/$ I'd prefer to }be able to interpret those numbers consistently, but it seems that }economists like to do things differently.
No. They're exactly the same. Given something like GBP/USD, convert both to a common value (e.g. EUR, giving 1.3877 / 1.0731 currently) and divide them. Just as mph, or miles/hour, means miles divided by hours, GBP/USD means GBP divided by USD.
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wrote:

The "/" symbol can have two totally different meanings. One is "divided by", the other is "per". They are not the same at all.
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