Hyperinflation, Can It Happen Here?
By: John Mauldin
Oct 16, 2011
“Bankruptcies of governments have, on the whole, done less harm to mankind than their ability to raise loans.” – R.H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, 1926
“By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. – John Maynard Keynes, Economic Consequences of Peace
“Unemployed men took one or two rucksacks and went from peasant to peasant. They even took the train to favorable locations to get foodstuffs illegally which they sold afterwards in the town at three or fourfold the prices they had paid themselves. First the peasants were happy about the great amount of paper money which rained into their houses for their eggs and butter… However, when they came to town with their full briefcases to buy goods, they discovered to their chagrin that, whereas they had only asked for a fivefold price for their produce, the prices for scythe, hammer and cauldron, which they wanted to buy, had risen by a factor of 50.” – Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday, 1944.
The beginning of the end of the Weimar Republic was some 89 years ago this week. There is a stream of opinion that the US is headed for the same type of end. How else can it be, given that we owe some $75-80 trillion dollars in the coming years, over 5 times current GDP and growing every year? Remember the good old days of about 5-6 years ago (if memory serves me correctly) when it was only $50 trillion? With a nod to Bernanke’s helicopter speech, where he detailed how the Fed could prevent deflation, I ask the opposite question, “Can ‘it’ (hyperinflation) really happen here?” I write this on a plane flying to NYC, with a tighter deadline than normal, so let’s see how far we can get. More on where I’m heading at the end of the letter.