High Life

When Money Dies

January 13, 2011

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When Money Dies

GSTAAD—Back in 1975 Adam Ferguson, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, published a very important book with a very apt modern title, When Money Dies. It was about the Weimar hyperinflation nightmare, something our so-called leaders might well think about, which of course they will not. We are so dumbed-down by reality and talent shows on the idiot box, why bother to bring up unpleasant subjects? Only recently I read somewhere that the obnoxious John Prescott defended the war criminal Tony Blair and his party’s record, which is not unlike Greens praising arms manufacturers for population control. People are simply too dumb, too cowed, or too interested in celebrity goings-on to care about what a slob like Prescott bloviates about. What they should have done is throw him overboard—he was on a freebie cruise—but instead they silently listened to his bad-taste jokes and defense of Blair.

Inflation is what kills wealth, unless the goodies are in property, ships, or other such solid matter, but let’s not get too academic about it. The only ones inflation helps are debtors, which are most Western governments nowadays. No wonder they don’t mind piling on the debt. But for us normal folk, inflation can be a very big pain you-know-where. Did you know that one pound sterling back in 1923 is the equivalent of 42 pounds today? Think about it. You could give a nice-looking German girl one pound as a tip and hope that she might let you walk her home after she finished working at the restaurant. Girls back then were moral, and a walk was the equivalent of a f—- today. Nowadays you’d need to come up with 42 pounds, and she’s more likely to thank you for the tip and inform you not to get your hopes up because she lives upstairs with another woman (mein partner) and that three’s a crowd.

“The only ones inflation helps are debtors, which are most Western governments nowadays. No wonder they don’t mind piling on the debt.”

The great economist Taki says that tipping a pound makes one look a gent, but £42 makes one look vulgar and a fool. When I was a very small boy I remember running out of the house and picking up millions off the street. This was 1943 and the drachma had just been devalued again and bills of one million were scattered all over, worthless. I didn’t understand inflation at my young age, so I scooped them all up and brought them home, where Fraulein gave me a wintry smile and tried to explain. She, in fact, had been ruined by the 1923 inflation and had to go to work as a nanny to rich foreign children, so she knew what she was talking about.