Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
WALKING A TIGHTROPE
on 16 December 2011
Adam Fergusson in his now back in print book from 1975, "When Money Dies", details the circumstances and events leading to the devastating economic death of the German mark over the period 1914 to 1923, and then a new quasi-currency, the Rentenmark was issued with an illusory but confidence restoring asset backing.
Back in the early 1970's inflation was bemusing the political class and their economist sidekicks, and this book focused attention on the respective advantages and disadvantages of manipulating the supply of currency as a panacea for price stability. Nowadays known as Quantitative Easing, it was used without much thought or purpose by the Reichsbank presided over by Rudolph Havenstein, now widely regarded as the 'worst central banker of all time'.
The result of printing more and more money was catastrophic, totally destroying people's perception of it's value leading to hyperinflation on a frightening scale. In 1914 it took just 20 marks to buy a British pound but by 1923 it took 310 billion! Currency became a worthless commodity, people resorting to paying rent in butter, a cinema ticket with a lump of coal.
This book written well over 35 years ago was not only very relevant to the 1970's economic woes but to the current economic situation where Central Banks such as The Bank of England and others are once again embarking on the route taken in Germany in 1923, that of Quantitative Easing, ie. printing money by the container ship load. It is hoped this 'fiscal remedy' does not become overused causing the perception of the value of the currency devaluing and leading to instability and a fall from the proverbial tightrope being 'tottered over' by the Central Banks in their desperation to cross the chasm of financial doom to get to safety.
It also goes towards understanding the reason Germans are very reluctant to engage in Quantitative Easing to resolve the current problems in the EuroZone, not wanting to go back to the horrifying and corrosive effect that was experienced by their forebears in 1923.
A book that is an absolute must with any person that has an appetite to broaden their economic understanding. It is well written, informative, very interesting, and above all extremely relevant to what is happening around us today.