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The monetary lessons from Germany

The monetary lessons from Germany 

Germany suffered two currency collapses in the last century, in 1920-23 and1945-48. The architect of the recovery from the former, Hjalmar Schacht, chose to cooperate with the Nazi successors to the Weimar Republic, and failed. In that of the second, Ludwig Erhard remained true to his free market credentials and succeeded. While they were in different circumstances, comparisons between the two events might give some guidance to politicians faced with similar destructions of their state currencies, which is a growing possibility.

Introduction

Let us assume the next credit crisis is on its way. Given enhanced levels of government debt, it is likely to be more serious than the last one in 2008. Let us also note that it is happening despite the supposed stimulus of low and negative interest rates, when we would expect them to be at their maximum in the credit cycle, and that some $17 trillion of bonds are negative yielding, an unnatural distortion of markets. Let us further assume that McKinsey in their annual banking survey of 2019 are correct when they effectively say that 60% of the world’s banks are consuming their capital before a credit crisis. Add to this a developing recession in Germany that will almost certainly lead to both Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank having to be rescued by the German government. And note the IMF recently warned that $19 trillion in corporate debt is a systemic timebomb, and that collateralised loan obligations and direct exposure to junk held by the US commercial banks is approximately equal to the sum of their equity.

Then we can say with some confidence that a major credit crisis is developing, and that it will almost certainly be far greater than Lehman.

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