5 Historical Financial Crises That Make This One Look Posh
In case you weren’t aware, America’s kind of in a bad spot, moneywise. The national debt is at almost $17 trillion, which is more than America’s GDP. America, right now, is like the kid who takes seven advances on his allowance to purchase Pokémon cards, except his parents have recently lowered his credit score to reflect a history of spending and repayment issues.
Things may seem bad now, but crying over our current financial troubles is like crying over a misplaced staple compared to…
#5: In My Day, Greeks had a Damned Good Excuse for Their Economic Catastrophes
Before the euro, there was the drachma. The Greek drachma traces its history back thousands of years, and both real and fictional persons have appeared on its face. You’d think with thousands of years of history, the drachma would be pretty stable.
For starters, when reading an article headlined with the words “financial crises,” you really shouldn’t have thought that. I hope you feel very silly now.
The frugal Greeks of 1938 waited, on average, 40 days before spending one presumably hard-earned drachma note (because there is apparently a way to measure this).
However, by 1944, the national attitude had changed to that of an eternal Black Friday. Those crazy Greeks were spending their drachmae at an unprecedented rate of one note of indeterminate value every four hours (seriously, how the hell is this measured?). What could it have taken to turn such a parsimonious country into four-year-olds with briefcases of cash?
Well, World War II kind of sucked for the Greeks. Economically, after Poland, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia, Greece was the worst-affected country under German occupation. The drachma’s value plummeted so quickly that if money wasn’t spent soon, it was worthless. In other words, if you didn’t go on daily shopping sprees, you were financially irresponsible.
They were so badly impacted, that even today they still claim Germany owes them $95 billion. This is totally due to historical justice, and not at all because Greece couldn’t lose money faster if it boxed up all its banknotes and mailed them to Bernie Madoff. Yes, I still remember Bernie Madoff.
At the height of the hyperinflation in October 1944, prices doubled every 4.3 days. The United States has never experienced anything remotely approaching that in terms of inflation. Ever. So stop complaining.
Eventually, Great Britain stepped in, and offered to make some changes. Through new measures, Greek confidence in the drachma rose to pre-German-shenanigans levels, and Greece has continued to be an economically sound nation ever since.
The Worst It Got
The 1953 new drachma replaced the old drachma at a rate of one 1953 drachma per 50,000,000,000,000 pre-1944 drachmae. That’s a lot of drachmae.
1944 Greece was a (now) hilarious comedy of drachma drama. A drachmedy. Though if you ask me, the whole affair was a bit melodrachmatic. If the drachma were a desert animal, it would be a drachmadary. If “drachma” read the same backwards and forwards, it would be a palindrachma. If you hop up and down while whistling “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and fiddling with a rubber band, you could call that grounds for institutionalization. I like the word “drachma.”
But Greece’s German-engineered financial crisis was nothing compared to tomorrow’s featured economic apocalypse. Hint: It’s the Germans.
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Dear Socially Awkward – Boyfriends and bats, Valentines and Hungary, and Spain or something. Submissions welcome.
The Media Manifesto – Because Communism does, in fact, mix well with mass media.
Compass Rose News – Walmart declares bankruptcy after deciding to be nice to people, and a Kansas youth reports seeing colors besides sepia.
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