In June, Greek banks declared a surprise limitation on how much could be withdrawn from an account. At present, the government still limits the cash withdrawals of Greeks.
And, of course, this is just the most recent in a series of events that make up the cash squeeze. In response, Greeks have done what all people do when they cannot get enough currency – they improvise.
Several alternate systems for payment of goods and services have cropped up in Greece since 2010. One is TEM, which allows people to gain monetary credit on an internet site, which may then be used to pay others. Another system is the Athens Time Bank, which logs time units, allowing individuals to pay each other with their time. The services provided can be anything from language lessons to medical consultation. Other systems are popping up, as Greeks seek out any method of payment other than the euro, since they’re closed off from their own savings at the banks. As can be expected, barter is becoming more commonplace.
Greece is right where Weimar Germany was in late 1922. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles required Germany to pay reparations for WWI. At the time, Germany, having lost the war, was already on the ropes economically. The conditions of the treaty amounted to an unpayable level of debt. As it became apparent that it was impossible to pay, the allies squeezed harder. Economic conditions in Germany worsened dramatically, not unlike Greece today, and for the same reason.
Germans did their best to sidestep the economic squeeze. As the cost of goods and services was rapidly rising (on a daily basis), Germans learned that it was best to spend Reichsmarks as quickly as possible on virtually anything that was holding its value better than banknotes.
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