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This review is from: When Money Dies: The nightmare of the Weimar Hyper-Inflation (Paperback)
The Weimar hyperinflation conjures up images of universal suffering. Yet, as Adam Fergusson explains, there were plenty of winners too. Industrialists and speculators did very well. Individuals with access to loans saw their debts turn to dust overnight. They flaunted their new found wealth in the face of poverty and starvation. People on fixed incomes and savers on the other hand saw their wealth evaporate. Riots and looting were common.
During the London riots of 2011 the press unanimously proclaimed the looting and destruction of property as a contemporary phenomenon, the decadence of 21st century consumer society gone mad. One need only look at hyper-inflationary Germany and Austria to discover that this isn't true. Hordes of the impoverished urban poor ransacked the towns and countryside, smashing shops, burning farms, slaughtering livestock. The looting surpassed manifold by the devastation that was left behind. The rise of extremist ideologies was another manifestation of this collective insanity.
Adam Fergusson explains how the debasement of the German Mark was not inevitable, it was engineered, the result of a deliberate policy of monetary expansion, ultimately leading to a loss of faith in the Mark. Enabled by bad government and encouraged by speculators and industrialists. The latter grasping the opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of society at large. Their modern equivalents, interestingly enough, are the hedge fund and private equity financiers.
The debasement of currency is relevant in both the past and the present. The Soviets made use of it after the revolution, debasing their currency to wipe out the wealth of the money holding classes.
A well researched historical account of Weimar hyperinflation, based on a thorough understanding of monetary theory.