Review of the First Edition (rare hardcover) of When Money Dies, written by me on May 25, 2006, & not reedited:
I first read this book some 25 years ago. I was so impressed I immediately bought a dozen copies & gave them to pals. (In 1980 they were 3-4 pounds sterling each--it's ironic & interesting that the price of this out-of-print book now fetches multiple zeros). Here are some parallels with our time: The Germany of the '20s finds it cannot meet the costs of war reparations. The US of the 2000s starts a war intending to pay reparations before it begins, and then finds itself unable to meet the mounting the costs of war reparations it originally thought would leap out of the ground and just pay themselves. (Meanwhile, the US's wounded soldiers [& the families of its dead soldiers] are going to require entire lifetimes of domestic reparations). The Germany of the '20s attempted to buy/finance prosperity with ballooning deficits. The US of the 2000s wants to buy/ finance prosperity with ballooning deficits. Neither nation-State can be told it is wrong--and neither admits (or even recognizes) inflation is a hidden and pernicious tax. Germany before the '20s had every confidence in the mark. The US in the 2000s believes the only currency in the world is the dollar, & the only thing money can be made of is paper and ink (never gold or silver). But as one mixes ink with paper, hoping the mixture will have exchange value, one finds that one has given value to neither material. As Germany becomes more unhinged in the '20s, it moves towards a strong man as a moth to a flame. As the US grows more unhinged, it loses faith in its 'strong man' (even if he does not lose faith in himself). If the US should subsequently shun whoever wants to be the next 'strong man', there may yet be be hope. Since it is possible for the next wannabe 'strong man' to be laughed off the stage, it is yet possible the US will not succumb. The jury is still out. At times the mark strenghthens (goes against the ultimate trend, for short periods): the Germans of the '20s (and other investors) think the crisis is over and it is time to buy. At times the dollar strengthens (goes against the ultmate trend [?], for short periods): the world of the 2000s thinks the crisis may end--isn't it now time to buy cheap US assets? The Germans of the '20s can add more zeros to their paper--but paper producition does not keep up with the 'demand' for money. The US of the 2000s has but to generate a computer entry and like magic, the 'demand' for money is met. The paper of Germany leaves a trail [Fergusson proves this]--computer entries can be a hidden and dirty little State Secret [until prices rise as the money actually depreciates, the state can suppress much of the evidence]. At many levels, this book about a frightening past speaks to a menacing present. Because of its price, many will not get to read that message. Between the Germany of the '20s and the US of the 2000s, there are differences too, but not differences that necessarily help. The potential for money supply to soar (the Fed's ability to create credit by computer without even having to buy ink, paper, and printers) has never been so boundless. We of the 2000s prefer to believe we are more intellegent than the Germans of the 20s. We live with the hope that our enlightened leaders comprehend inflation & understand that deficit spending shall ruin us. Enlighted people that they are, from government top to government bottom, we know and rely upon our leaders' fiscal responsibility. Just look at how enlightenment runs through the Nation--budgetary constraints are placed upon our brilliant leader, by those guardians of the Public Purse & Trust, a US legislature that checks and balances all his raw power. If you buy into the spin, they all do their utmost to preserve & protect the currency, while shouldering their duties to preserve and protect our Constitution. Tonight, I sleep contentedly, knowing both these National Treasures are safe and sound. Read this book: it is still found in libraries. You will be witness to ink on paper that actually has and holds its value.
Le livre décrit avec pertinence un épisode marquant de l'histoire économique du XXème siècle : l'hyper inflation sous le République de Weimar - l''intérêt est double : La description d'un phénomène économique qui a heureusement disparu en Europe, mais qui existe toujours dans certains pays du Sud : Vénézuela, Zimbabwe...
Cette crise a été un des vecteurs de l'émergence du nazisme Le souvenir de cette crise continue de façonner l'opinion publique allemande : il explique l'insistance sur le statut de a Banque Centrale Européenne ou plus récemment la forte réticence à aller au secours de la Grèce.
Une lecture très recommandable - ce livre mériterait d'etre traduit en français.