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Post WWI inflation currency
February 15, 2009 12:39 PM   Subscribe

As the national debt is monetized we may revive that phrase "you needed a wheelbarrow of cash to buy a loaf of bread." Notgeld, German for "Emergency Money" or "necessity money." 896 beautiful examples.
posted by wallstreet1929 (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Notbad! Thanks.
posted by terranova at 12:42 PM on February 15, 2009


Beautiful! Thanks very much for this.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2009


Wow! Awesome find.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:52 PM on February 15, 2009


A particularly curious case of "emergency money" were the cardboard coins emitted by the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War and "validated" with poststamps.
posted by Skeptic at 1:10 PM on February 15, 2009


This is incredible. I work with one of the curators of the currency museum here in Canada, and I've sent this her way. It would be amazing to be able to turn this into an pubic exhibit.
posted by Jairus at 1:21 PM on February 15, 2009


It would be amazing to be able to turn this into an pubic exhibit.

You'd have to keep the kiddies out, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:44 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Were some of these "sew-on?" There appears to be stiching around their edges.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:10 PM on February 15, 2009


Of course, these days with debit cards and all we won't actually need to carry around wheelbarrows of cash, we'll just have million dollar receipts at the grocery store.

The irony is, hyperinflation would actually cause a lot of economic activity because money would be something you have to 'use or lose', whereas a deflationary situation would mean that people who simply hoard money would see the value of their holdings go up, even if they don't invest in anything.
posted by delmoi at 2:10 PM on February 15, 2009


Were some of these "sew-on?" There appears to be stiching around their edges.

That's for the gamblers - makes the transaction simpler when they lose their shirts.

(you just can't beat German efficiency)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:38 PM on February 15, 2009


Were some of these "sew-on?" There appears to be stiching around their edges.

Sometimes they were printed on silk.
posted by WPW at 3:06 PM on February 15, 2009


That account name certainly came in handy.
posted by smackfu at 3:49 PM on February 15, 2009


Go straight to gold; do not pass go.
posted by crapmatic at 3:58 PM on February 15, 2009


These are frighteningly attractive.
posted by mecran01 at 4:47 PM on February 15, 2009


Can someone explain how these localized currencies were employed in relation to inflation?
posted by mecran01 at 4:47 PM on February 15, 2009


You're starving. Unemployed. Your life savings are wiped out. But your money is FABULOUS.
posted by gamera at 5:07 PM on February 15, 2009


Great post. Those bills are fabulous!

One of my coworkers was explaining to me how the whole economy problem was caused by our lack of a gold standard. He sounded like Bo Gritz.

I'm not an expert on these things, but my bullshit alarm goes into high gear when I hear someone dittoing the talking points of the extreme right. I've always wondered if there is actually enough refined gold on earth to back all of our currency. I've always wondered even more what the right want to achieve with this.
posted by SteveTheRed at 6:43 PM on February 15, 2009


I was expecting 896 vintage pics of wheelbarrows full of money
posted by 445supermag at 8:16 PM on February 15, 2009


Can someone explain how these localized currencies were employed in relation to inflation?

First, understand deflation and how it increases the danger of hyperinflation (or perhaps more accurately, how it is more likely to lead to the latter than simple prolonged inflation of the US 1970s variety -- but that's another story). Broadly: The ability of a country to exercise control over the value of money through neoclassical monetary policy may become significantly diminished. Essentially what you get is unpredictable fluctuations of the value of money. These operate on the abstract money supply and the slightly less abstract credit markets. But they really don't affect concrete things such as the value of work and comparative values of goods from cars to vegetables -- they just move the decimal points around for the colored pieces of paper that people use to buy and sell those goods and services.

Thus notgeld would essentially create a secondary currency market that precisely because -- unlike your bank account or your paycheck -- it is divorced from the abstract credit markets is protected from deflationary or hyperinflationary forces. Where such a currency is accepted it can stabilize values enough that necessary economic activity can take place.

The US is running out of power to use monetary policy to protect the value of the dollar. This doesn't necessarily mean we're in for a Weimar rollercoaster, but then again, that would make a New Great Depression look like a cakewalk. Hang onto your hats.
There are numerous reasons why a Japan Lost Decade is the most likely short-term outcome versus either of those.
posted by dhartung at 10:38 PM on February 15, 2009


Imagine if you had to calculate in million dollars when you go to the grocery store.
posted by Smaaz at 10:50 PM on February 15, 2009


Were some of these "sew-on?" There appears to be stiching around their edges.

Sometimes they were printed on silk.


Huh, silk-backed currency. So, there was a, like, silk standard? I guess I never understood how profoundly Weimar Germany was fucked.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:24 AM on February 16, 2009


So, there was a, like, silk standard?

It was to counteract the Lace Standard, the Satin Standard, and the Leather Standard.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2009


I heard that the Weimar currency was sometimes referred to as the Bismarck*

They floated it for a while, but it didn't last long.

*Bis-Mark, get it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2009


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