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When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany by Adam Fergusson

When Money Dies is the classic history of what happens when a nation’s currency depreciates beyond recovery. In 1923, with its currency effectively worthless (the exchange rate in December of that year was one dollar to 4,200,000,000,000 marks), the German republic was all but reduced to a barter economy. Expensive cigars, artworks, and jewels were routinely exchanged for staples such as bread; a cinema ticket could be bought for a lump of coal; and a bottle of paraffin for a silk shirt. People watched helplessly as their life savings disappeared and their loved ones starved. Germany’s finances descended into chaos, with severe social unrest in its wake.

Money may no longer be physically printed and distributed in the voluminous quantities of 1923. However, “quantitative easing,” that modern euphemism for surreptitious deficit financing in an electronic era, can no less become an assault on monetary discipline. Whatever the reason for a country’s deficit—necessity or profligacy, unwillingness to tax or blindness to expenditure—it is beguiling to suppose that if the day of reckoning is postponed economic recovery will come in time to prevent higher unemployment or deeper recession. What if it does not? Germany in 1923 provides a vivid, compelling, sobering moral tale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781586489946
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 10/12/2010
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 226,019
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Note to the 2010 edition vii

Prologue ix

1 Gold for Iron 1

2 Joyless Streets 17

3 The Bill Presented 27

4 Delirium of Milliards 39

5 The Slide to Hyperinglation 61

6 Summer of'22 80

7 The Hapsburg Inheritance 92

8 Autumn Paper-chase 108

9 Ruhrkampf 129

10 Summer of'23 158

11 Havenstein 170

12 The Bottom of the Abyss 186

13 Schacht 205

14 Unemployment Breaks Out 218

15 The Wounds are Bared 233

Epilogue 248

Acknowledgments 257

Bibliography 259

Index 261

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When Money Dies 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over and over again, this book reminds the reader of the headlines today in 2011: out of control government obligations, exorbitant printing of money, the strong-arm tactics of labor unions, and the helplessness of average people to stop any of it. In Weimar Germany, the solution for every economic problem was to print more money. Nowadays, we call that printing quantitative easing and it can actually happen faster and easier than the old way of printing paper money. This should be required reading for both sides of the aisle in Washington. If they don't quit printing and spending, this is how we'll end up. The book itself reads like a novel. Just when you think things can't get any worse, they always do. You can feel the desperation of the people as they gradually succumb to the rot of inflation. They sell their belongings (and selves) to buy food and the other essentials of life. The final paragraph of the Epilogue illustrates this desperation well: "In war, boots; in flight, a place in a boat or a seat on a lorry may be the most vital thing in the world, more desirable than untold millions. In hyperinflation, a kilo of potatoes was worth, to some, more than the family silver; a side of pork more than the grand piano. A prostitute in the family was better than an infant corpse; theft was preferable to starvation; warmth was finer than honour, clothing more essential than democracy, food more needed than freedom." Buy copies for all of your elected representatives before its too late...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Provides excellent information about the ludicrosity of just letting the money printing press go wild. It is an excellent awareness for the present situation in the United States. There really is a limit to letting the money presses run wild.
Anonymous 4 days ago
Thought-provoking, scar at times. Good book!
annieCG More than 1 year ago
This book should be a must read for every American because we all need to understand the horrors of manipulation of the Economy and how it causes destruction in the lives of every day citizens.
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Dakotamouse More than 1 year ago
if you havent read the book why post. my post on the post
CSMOK More than 1 year ago
If the book is anyghing like the synopsis for this book I would not want to wade through the details; if this makes me dumb so be it.