17 banknote warehouses

In the 17 countries of the Eurozone there are 17 warehouses stuffed with adequate numbers of brand-new bank-notes of what, at the moment, are their former currencies — lira, pesetas, guilders, francs, deutschemarks. drachmas, whatever. It cannot be imagined that any self-respecting civil service would not already have organized this within at least the last two years of heightened concern about the future of the euro. It may even be the case that some prescient treasury departments didn’t incinerate their old banknotes ten years ago and simply stillaged them in a convenient salt mine, ready for re-use if necessary.

At the same time, if statements here and there are to be believed, scores, perhaps hundreds, of transnational corporations will have already set up parallel accountancy systems which could be activated if any or all the Eurozone countries go native. Certainly all banks will have done so. Indeed, a day or two ago, investment experts at Deutsche Bank have said that the collapse of the Eurozone “is a very likely scenario”. Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister of Italy and clown though he is, is thinking of leading his party on a return-to-lira ticket. Given that prime minister Mario Monti’s austerity measures are already causing riots in Italy then Berlusconi might well be onto a winner unless the authorities find some pretext of locking him up after a quick trial. (And, goodness knows, there’s already plenty of evidence of corruption on which his colleagues have already been found guilty.)

Oh! and by way of a postscript, we might mention that many sensible Eurozone individuals are also trying to insure themselves against a calamitous collapse of the Eurozone. Every now and again a plane load of krugerrands is flown from South Africa to Europe. Gold dispensing machines are being installed in some German hotels. The Pan Asia Gold Exchange, knowing a good market when it sees one, is intending to open depots in Europe where internet-purchasers of gold can store it or collect it.

Meanwhile, senior Eurozone politicians and bureaucrats will continue to assert that all will be well. And, because most of masses are totally bewildered by all the financial jiggery-pokery going on, and are always inclined to believe good news rather than disaster, the propagandists will be believed. Right up to the last moment.

Keith Hudson

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