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News Link • Economy - Economics USA

Book Review: Adam Fergusson's When Money Dies


There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

~ John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, pp. 235-248.

When Money Dies, the horrifyingly true story of post-World War I Germany's experience with hyperinflation, was first published in 1975. Largely because the world has been forcibly reacquainted with central banks, and specifically, the U.S. Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing," this essential book was republished and re-released in 2010.

The German devaluation of the mark, which began during the war, continued at great speed in its aftermath such that, by 1923, the dollar bought 4,200,000,000,000 units of the almost worthless currency. The story of the mark's descent into nothingness is scarily relevant to what we're witnessing today on the currency front, and the stories within touch on myriad modern themes about runaway government debt, investor flight to hard assets, and societal unrest related to monetary mischief.

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