EUROBLOWN: HOW NAZI WARTIME CURRENCY COULD HELP BAIL OUT GREECE
Papademos (l) and Sachinidis…Nazi bonanza?
There’s a sort of oddly ironic piece in the Greek paper Kathimerini this morning, reporting that the Bank of Greece has discoved 14 million Nazi Reichsmark banknotes from the last occupation of Greece in the period 1941-44. These must be the first notes the BoG didn’t print itself in some time. The piece notes, ‘Sources say that the Bank of Greece had informed the ministry of the German money about a year ago, but given that it is only of historic value, the ministry had then decided against taking any action. However, as a result of the war reparations debate that is currently raging, Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis has now decided to see what can be done with it.’
What occurs to me, however, is that these notes are worth a helluva lot more than 1-year Greek bonds….and perhaps all Greek bonds. As collectors’ items, for example, 14 million 5-Reichsmark notes – if marketed online – would be worth around 150 million euros. Given Wolfgang Schauble spent three weeks during February holding up the debt swap on the basis of almost exactly that sum, it’s bound to come in useful for something. Paying off English Law and Vulture Fund non-swappers of pre-March bonds, for example.
But a better and infinitely bigger bazooka presents itself in the shape of offering them to Jens Weidmann’s Bundesbank as loan collateral. For now that She Who Must be Obeyed in Berlin has decreed that Jens never said anything at all about banning ClubMed bonds as collateral, not ever oh no, in theory Athens could twist his arm to take any old sh*t from the Bank of Greece.
To use a related technical term here, these marks are actually worth a sh*tload of money. From some initial digging undertaken by The Slog in the wee hours this morning [Tuesday] I can’t find any trace of them being declared as illegal tender. What’s more, the mark/dollar exchange rate in 1941 (just before the unpleasantness at Pearl Harbor suspended operations) was 2.5 to 1.
So the Bank of Greece’s Nazi notes are worth circa six million 1941 bucks.