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am 14. Juli 2017
Adam Ferguson hat in seinem Buch sehr viel Hintergrundmaterial und Tatsachenberichte über die Zeit nach dem ersten Weltkrieg bis 1923 zusammengetragen. Vor allen Dingen hat er sich in seinen Recherchen nicht nur auf Deutschland begrenzt, sondern auch über Österreich und Ungarn geschrieben. Dort kam es zu den gleichen kriegsbedingten inflationären Erscheinungen. Schließlich waren diese Länder im ersten Weltkrieg verbündet und damit die Verlierer dieses wirtschaftlichen Konflikts. Die Inflation nahm jedoch in jedem Land einen anderen Verlauf. In Österreich wurde diesem fürchterlichen Spektakel zum Beispiel viel früher als in Deutschland ein Ende bereitet. Er stellt sich zwar die richtige Frage (weshalb hat man bei der Reichsbank ohne Ende neues Geld gedruckt?), gibt jedoch hierauf keine befriedigende Antwort. In Wirklichkeit haben wir es bei jeder Inflation nach 1694 mit den Auswirkungen des privaten Zentralbanksystems zu tun, welches nach Lust und Laune (zur eigenen Bereicherung) das ungedeckte Geld entwertet. Er dürfte das als ehemaliger und hochrangiger Staatsbeamter sehr wohl gewusst haben, hielt diese wichtige Erklärung vermutlich aber mit Rücksicht auf seine üppige Pension und seinen guten Ruf zurück. Deshalb gibt es nur 4 Sterne.
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am 6. November 2007
"Zeros in -- Zeros out. Naught is Naught." or "Making the Same Old Mistakes, but not Makin' Mo' Money", 30 May 2006
By Jamal "Jim" Hattab "hnaforjones" (TX, USA)

I first read this book some 25 years ago. I was so impressed I immediately bought a dozen copies & gave them to pals. (In 1980 they were 3-4 pounds sterling each--it's ironic & interesting that the price of this out-of-print book now fetches multiple zeros).
Here are some parallels with our time:
The Germany of the '20s finds it cannot meet the costs of war reparations. The US of the 2000s starts a war intending to pay reparations before it begins, and then finds itself unable to meet the mounting the costs of war reparations it originally thought would leap out of the ground and just pay themselves. (Meanwhile, the US's wounded soldiers [& the families of its dead soldiers] are going to require entire lifetimes of domestic reparations).
The Germany of the '20s attempted to buy/finance prosperity with ballooning deficits. The US of the 2000s wants to buy/ finance prosperity with ballooning deficits. Neither nation-State can be told it is wrong--and neither admits (or even recognizes) inflation is a hidden and pernicious tax.
Germany before the '20s had every confidence in the mark. The US in the 2000s believes the only currency in the world is the dollar, & the only thing money can be made of is paper and ink (never gold or silver). But as one mixes ink with paper, hoping the mixture will have exchange value, one finds that one has given value to neither material.
As Germany becomes more unhinged in the '20s, it moves towards a strong man as a moth to a flame. As the US grows more unhinged, it loses faith in its 'strong man' (even if he does not lose faith in himself). If the US should subsequently shun whoever wants to be the next 'strong man', there may yet be be hope. Since it is possible for the next wannabe 'strong man' to be laughed off the stage, it is yet possible the US will not succumb. The jury is still out.
At times the mark strenghthens (goes against the ultimate trend, for short periods): the Germans of the '20s (and other investors) think the crisis is over and it is time to buy. At times the dollar strengthens (goes against the ultmate trend [?], for short periods): the world of the 2000s thinks the crisis may end--isn't it now time to buy cheap US assets?
The Germans of the '20s can add more zeros to their paper--but paper producition does not keep up with the 'demand' for money. The US of the 2000s has but to generate a computer entry and like magic, the 'demand' for money is met. The paper of Germany leaves a trail [Fergusson proves this]--computer entries can be a hidden and dirty little State Secret [until prices rise as the money actually depreciates, the state can suppress much of the evidence].
At many levels, this book about a frightening past speaks to a menacing present. Because of its price, many will not get to read that message. Between the Germany of the '20s and the US of the 2000s, there are differences too, but not differences that necessarily help. The potential for money supply to soar (the Fed's ability to create credit by computer without even having to buy ink, paper, and printers) has never been so boundless. We of the 2000s prefer to believe we are more intellegent than the Germans of the 20s. We live with the hope that our enlightened leaders comprehend inflation & understand that deficit spending shall ruin us. Enlighted people that they are, from government top to government bottom, we know and rely upon our leaders' fiscal responsibility. Just look at how enlightenment runs through the Nation--budgetary constraints are placed upon our brilliant leader, by those guardians of the Public Purse & Trust, a US legislature that checks and balances all his raw power. If you buy into the spin, they all do their utmost to preserve & protect the currency, while shouldering their duties to preserve and protect our Constitution. Tonight, can I sleep contentedly, knowing both these National Treasures are safe and sound?
Read this book: it is still found in libraries. You will be witness to ink on paper that actually has and holds its value.
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am 10. August 2014
Fergusson does a great job in walking the reader through life in Austria and Germany in the years of inflation and hyperinflation, giving various examples how detrimental and beneficial it was for different groups of citizens, international speculators and companies. Apart from the style of writing, which turns tiresome at some point, it feels lively enough to give a good account of those days.

The problem lies in the sources the author uses, as I found it very biased and not well informed in terms of utilizing a wider array of sources. Therefore, the main view is very much from a British angle, and even more so, that only that particular view "got it right." Nevertheless, the view is still valuable, if read in a wider context.

What is really worrisome though is the authors distorted view of history as such. Maybe this is because there was not enough broad literature about the first world war by then when the author wrote it, or maybe because of other reasons I don't know. But given blatantly wrong statements, the whole value of the book becomes questionable. By reading statements about Germany like the following in context with Christopher Clark's "Sleepwalkers" the very opionated (and proven incorrect) view becomes obvious:
"The nation which learnt before all others to make a virtue of war"
"Spoils of conquest" in consideration of war mongering
"Stated intention to take over france's colonies"
"More than any other thread that links the two world wars, the history of the inflation is a reminder that for the nation which supremely promoted both of them..."

Summing it all up, if one does a wider and detailed study on inflation, this becomes a mandatory read. Otherwise, feel free to skip.
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am 5. Oktober 2012
Adam Fergusson covers the challenging economic period between 1919 and 1923, the run up to the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic (from 'Reichsmark' to 'Rentenmark'), elaborating on events in Hungary and Austria, which shared a similar fate, as well.

The narrative form makes the book easy to read and its content conveniently digestible. A large variety of extracts from diaries, letters of politicians and diplomats give the story a very personal touch and leave the reader with the sincere hope that such times may not haunt us again.

Next to the monetary side the author also covers the political events during that time (French occupation, Ruhrkampf etc.) and manages to perfectly link these to their economic consequences.
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am 12. Januar 2012
In dem Buch werden im Detail die Ereignisse jedes Monats besprochen. Dabei bleibt es leider oft auch. Nur wenige Protagonisten werden als Zeitzeugen herangezogen. Es sind aber fast ausnahmslos Außenstehende (z.B. britisches Konsulat) oder Bürger der Mittel- bis Oberschicht. Eine Analyse und Bewertung der Vorgänge kommt zu kurz.
Es ist schwierig dem beschriebenen Wertverlust im Verlauf der Handlung zu folgen. Die Beispiele haben zur heutigen Zeit wenig Bezug. Eine Zeitleiste oder zusammenfassendes Kapitel zu diesem Bereich fehlt.
Das Werk stellt für mich eine Chronik der Ereignisse dar, "Tagebuch einer Hyperinflation" wäre ein passender Titel. Wer sicht bereits mit der Materie vertraut gemacht hat kann mit dieser Lektüre tief in Details eintauchen. Allen Anderen kann man dieses Buch nicht empfehlen. Dazu fehlt ein roter Faden und ein Konzept jenseits der Auflistung der Ereignisse.
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am 23. Dezember 2011
The time of Hyperinflation in Germany interests me a lot. Alas, this is not the book to read about it. It starts on the wrong foot:
On page 12 of the Prologue it says:" This is emphatically not an economic study". At the end of the Prologue the writer says that it is a moral tale. In my opinion it isn't. It is a historical account of the period. And that makes it boring. Month by month am I told what exactly happened.

The book is insufficient:
1. It presents no timeline. That would have been really helpful in reading this book.
2. It doesn't give answer to the question why the Germans didn't flee their country in search of better pastures. I am told that some Germans worked in France in this period. But why didn't they mass-emigrate to the USA like the Irish did in their times of need?
3. What this period meant to the Germans is in this story mostly told by Lord D'Abernon, the British ambassador to Berlin for more than six years, and by Erna van Pustau, whose father was a small Hamburg businessman who ran a fishmarket. In this historical account they tell the story from the outside. That is obvious in the case of Lord D'Abernon because he was an Englishman and therefore not affected by what happened. Erna van Pustau is clearly from a well-off family. Examples are given by these two but, as I said, they do that from the outside. It certainly doesn't give you a feeling or even enough information how the normal German coped in this period.

This book is a historical account and a boring one. In itself it doesn't give the reader enough information.
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