Skip to comments.Germans get by without the euro
Posted on 01/24/2007 11:30:29 PM PST by bruinbirdman
If you live in the Bavarian region of Chiemgau, you can exist for months at a time in a euro-free zone of hills and lakes with a population of half a million people. Restaurants, bakeries, hairdressers and a network of supermarkets will accept the local currency: the Chiemgauer.
Notes are exchanged freely like legal tender. You can even use a debit card. Petrol stations are still a problem, but biofuel outlets are signing up. Dentists are next.
The Chiemgauer is one of 16 regional currencies that have sprung into existence across Germany and Austria since the launch of the euro five years ago.
Another 49 regios are in the pipeline. They are outside the control of the political authorities, mostly run by activists, farmers, eco-enthusiasts, anti-globalists, and citizen committees.
Some are rural, others circulate like underground money in Berlin and Bremen. Hamburg has two: the Alto and the Hansemark. Italy has its version in the Valchius Valley, in the Alps.
Map of Gernam and Austrian regional currencies
The phenomenon, not seen since the Great Depression, has left experts scratching heads at the Bundesbank. The mighty reserve bank, which issues euro notes and coins worth 146bn for a third of the eurozone economy, is relaxed about the risk of monetary anarchy. But it is sufficiently puzzled to publish a 63-page report probing the eruption of this movement.
Entitled "Regional Currencies in Germany, Local Competition for the Euro?", it concludes that the tiny scale of this bizarre Schwundgeld - scrip, or specie - poses no threat to the orderly management of the euro system.
The rise of the regios dates exactly from the abolition of the D-Mark, replaced in turn by a stateless technocrat currency ever further removed from local life.
A pure coincidence, said Prof Gerhard Rösl, author of the Bundesbank paper. "The assumption that this springs from a general scepticism towards the euro is not valid."
Rather, the movement is a rejection of "capitalist globalism", pushed by idealists fighting to save regional cultures. The currencies are "luxury" scrip that flourish most in areas with the lowest unemployment. They offer users a "prestige gain" in their neighbourhoods, and a glow of good feeling.
School teacher Christian Gelleri launched the Chiemgauer, with the help of pupils, as an experiment in January 2003 at a rate of 1:1 against the euro.
Four years later, it spans two districts and is accepted by 550 shops, firms, and companies, including eight supermarkets and four co-operative banks. It has 40 issuing offices, and usage is expanding by 70pc a year. Monthly turnover is still a miniscule 135,000 (£88,000) - or rather C135,000.
"People have taken to it because it is a way of supporting good causes," said Mr Gelleri.
The Chiemgauer is designed to lose 2pc of its value every quarter, generating a profit for the issuing body as shops claim back the euros. Some 60pc of the profit is used for local charities, sports clubs, kindergartens and such.
Shops accepting the money take a loss of up to 5pc, akin to interchange fees paid when credit cards are used. "Merchants pay the cost, but they go along because they don't want to lose business," said Mr Gelleri.
The idea stems from the century-old writings of Silvio Gesell, a German economist who believed that interest and rent charged on capital is pernicious. He argued that usury aggravated economic downturns because the wealthy began to horde cash.
Austria's Tyrolean community of Wörgl launched a scheme based on his theories, in 1932, reputed to have slashed unemployment at the height of the Depression. It was watched by Keynes and Irving Fisher, who saw a fast-depreciating currency as a possible answer to the 1930s "liquidity trap".
"I came to the idea by studying Keynes and Fisher, but for us it is more a way to build regional strength. We're not enemies of Europe," said Mr Gelleri.
The Wörgl experiment was declared illegal by Austria's central bank when a further 200 other communities launched copycat currencies, threatening the authority of the state. Though article 35 of the Bundesbank's founding law forbids the circulation of "quasi-currencies", the experiments are being treated as a harmless eccentricity.
However, they are a remarkable expression of people power, and a subtle threat to the established order. Would they be sprouting with so much energy if the Germans still had the D-Mark in their pockets? One suspects not.
"Four years later, it spans two districts and is accepted by 550 shops, firms, and companies, including eight supermarkets and four co-operative banks. It has 40 issuing offices, and usage is expanding by 70pc a year. Monthly turnover is still a miniscule 135,000 (£88,000) - or rather C135,000"
this is the money line. this script, for whatever anti-euro feel-good barks and rants appear here, is nothing in terms of cash transactions in its area of circulation as a % of the whole. 135k euro in transactions is a non-issue. If we were talking 13 million euro or another such number that would be of more than fringe or lunatic interest.
Not something I'd put my life savings into...
The USA version:
This would only work in regions where people don't travel all that much.
German economist who believed that interest and rent charged on capital is pernicious.
Oh, no. Not again. Please.
Stupid, yes. They are replacing official phony money with amateur phony money. You might wonder if people have to go to school to learn how to be that stupid. But they are doing that because they don't want to use their gold and silver until the government collapses, and that's smart.
Ithaca, NY (City of Evil) has a local currency, too.
Liberalism in a nutshell.
They might want to change the colors on the no-Euro signs.
Judging from the miniscule amount in circulation, I judge this to be a fad among the moon bat academics and leftists who infest this fairytale vacationland southeast of Munich.
> 135k euro in transactions is a non-issue. If we were talking 13 million euro or another such number that would be of more than fringe or lunatic interest.
135k euro/month is just the Chiemgauer in a region of 500k. I wonder how much scrip circulates all over Germany, throughout the Euro zone in fact. Does the government collect a VAT on a Chiemgauer transaction? Also I'll bet there are scrips that are used in underground/black market tax free transactions.
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