Weimar Greece – The Effects of a Currency Collapse

Cash is a scarce commodity in Greece.

In June, Greek banks declared a surprise limitation on how much could be withdrawn from an account. At present, the government still limits the cash withdrawals of Greeks.

And, of course, this is just the most recent in a series of events that make up the cash squeeze. In response, Greeks have done what all people do when they cannot get enough currency – they improvise.

Several alternate systems for payment of goods and services have cropped up in Greece since 2010. One is TEM, which allows people to gain monetary credit on an internet site, which may then be used to pay others. Another system is the Athens Time Bank, which logs time units, allowing individuals to pay each other with their time. The services provided can be anything from language lessons to medical consultation. Other systems are popping up, as Greeks seek out any method of payment other than the euro, since they’re closed off from their own savings at the banks. As can be expected, barter is becoming more commonplace.

Greece is right where Weimar Germany was in late 1922. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles required Germany to pay reparations for WWI. At the time, Germany, having lost the war, was already on the ropes economically. The conditions of the treaty amounted to an unpayable level of debt. As it became apparent that it was impossible to pay, the allies squeezed harder. Economic conditions in Germany worsened dramatically, not unlike Greece today, and for the same reason.

Germans did their best to sidestep the economic squeeze. As the cost of goods and services was rapidly rising (on a daily basis), Germans learned that it was best to spend Reichsmarks as quickly as possible on virtually anything that was holding its value better than banknotes.

So, as long as we’re comparing parallel events, what else happened back then? Well, one interesting development was that, although most everyone in Germany was experiencing a steady decrease in their standard of living, farmers seemed to be holding their own. This, of course, was because they remained productive. They created essential goods for sale to others, so they maintained their living standards. In the autumn of 1922, most Bavarians could not afford to attend Oktoberfest, but the beer halls did an acceptable business with the farmers who came to town for the celebration. They were deeply resented by city dwellers for being able to afford beer that they themselves could not afford.

Such was the resentment that the prime minister of Bavaria submitted a bill to the Reichsrat to make gluttony a public offense.

If Greece in 2015 mirrors Germany in 1922, then we might expect Greece in 2016 to come to resemble Germany in 1923.

But how about the rest of us? We’re not in the state that Greece is in – at least not yet. But the EU as a whole, and the U.S., Canada, and many other “First World” countries, are following the same destructive economic path. (They just aren’t quite as far along as Weimar Germany, 1923.)

This was the case in Germany in 1923…and is the case in much of the world now.

Full article: Weimar Greece – The Effects of a Currency Collapse (International Man)

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