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

Fergusson, Adam

2010, October 12

When Money Dies

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.

Where to Find Resource Online

The book, When Money Dies, can be purchased from:

     Mises Institute


PDF version available below.


A 2011 interview. Historian Adam Fergusson discusses his cult-classic history of the Weimar hyperinflation, When Money Dies, with James Turk from the GoldMoney Foundation.

Source link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqffE6pDXuA

A 2014 interview: Adam Fergusson: When Money Dies | McAlvany Commentary

Source link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d26rK8YYyA

PDF Document

PDF version available:

     When Money Dies

Filed under the following tags: finance history

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