Who Needs the Euro When You Can Pay With Deutsche Marks?


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GAIBERG, Germany—Shopping for pain reliever here on a recent sunny morning, Ulrike Berger giddily counted her coins and approached the pharmacy counter. She had just enough to make the purchase: 31.09 deutsche marks.

"They just feel nice to hold again," the 55-year-old preschool teacher marveled, cupping the grubby coins fished from the crevices of her castaway living room sofa. "And they're still worth something."

Behind the counter of Rolf-Dieter Schaetzle's pharmacy in this southern German village lay a tray full of deutsche mark notes and coins—a month's worth of sales.

Germans have yet to give up on the euro. But as Europe's debt crisis rages on, many are indulging their nostalgia for the abandoned mark by shopping with it again—and retailers are happily going along.

As defunct currencies go, "die gute alte D-mark," or "the good old D-mark," as it is still affectionately called, is far from dead. Germans officially traded in the currency for euro bills and coins on Jan. 1, 2002, and the mark immediately ceased to be legal tender. But 13.2 billion marks—worth €6.75 billion ($8.3 billion)—remain tucked in mattresses, old prayer books, coat pockets or otherwise in circulation, according to the Bundesbank, more lucre than the euro bloc's 16 other ex-currencies combined.

Unlike neighbors such as Italy and France, which let their liras and francs officially expire over the past year, Germany never set a deadline for exchanging its old money for euros. So, if they decide to accept marks, retailers and other businesses can still exchange them at German central bank branches.

Sweet! Germany is waffling so much on the Euro problem that the amount of money required to rescue the damn experiment is reaching the point of increasing exponentially. This thing should have been abandoned two and a half years ago.
Looks like when/if the Euro disappears, the Germans won't have any problem reverting to the DM. Everyone else will need to start from scratch in effect letting the Germans win the race even before it starts.
Very interesting article, PMBug! The German people at least are more ready (than other Europeans) to dump the euro if it comes to that.

I wonder if there has been a relative change between the original DM vs euro exchange and what you see over there now?
I wonder if there has been a relative change between the original DM vs euro exchange and what you see over there now?

I would think that the "real" value of the DM is increasing for 2 reasons:

1) The Euro is fast becoming worthless
2) As time goes on, there are fewer and fewer DMs available

I know that if I was a German shop owner accepting DMs at the "official" exchange rate, I would hoard them unless I was sure that I would get stuck with them if they could no longer be exchanged.

The Germans are not dumb. They can see the Euro fading fast. This could be their escape valve.
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