New iPhone? That will be 2,000 trillion Marks, please (plus VAT)
I love the euro because it makes travelling around Europe so much easier. No longer do we need to have our pockets stuffed with several different currencies to cover a day’s drive across the continent. Yet it is pretty obvious to anyone who isn’t a blind supporter of the European dream, that the euro in its present form has had its day. The idea of one currency to cover all nations, from the frugal, tax-fearing Germans to the tax-evading Greeks—without fiscal union—was doomed from the start.
It’s worth remembering that on this day, November 15, 1923, Germany reached the height of hyperinflation following the end of World War I. The mark ended the day on an exchange rate of four trillion to the dollar. Workers grabbed their wages and rushed to the factory gates to thrust them at wives who would go and buy anything, anything that could later be bartered. Then there was the poor shopkeeper on his way to the bank with the day’s takings, piled high in a wheelbarrow. He was mugged. They took the wheelbarrow and left the cash.
This time round, the euro isn’t facing hyperinflation and devaluation. Far from it. It remains stubbornly strong despite the shennanigans on the southern borders. This is only because the markets believe Germany and the northern countries will do anything to preserve the currency. If we’d had a northro and a southro, the one would be rising in value while the other would be plumbing the depths. That sort of faux balance cannot last. Something, probably German patience, has to give.