"The present monetary conditions have made Germany a topsy turvy land," said Mr. A. G. Alley '01 to a CRIMSON reporter yesterday. Mr. Alley, who has recently returned from a trip of investigation in Germany, spoke a week ago at the Union on the present situation in the French occupied areas in Germany.
"It is impossible to comprehend the change in conditions since the war," he continued. "The cost of living has increased 98,500,800,000 times. When dealing in terms such as that, business dealings become baffling,--almost impossible. In every shop in Germany business is transacted by means of a printed placard very like a logarithm table. It is a sort of currency multiplication which varies each day as the value of the dollar goes up and the mark goes down.
"For the mark invariably does go down. It is no longer a measure of value but a medium of exchange. This inflation of the currency is a suicidal process; each day the government works the printing presses as fast as it can. The number of marks in circulation each evening is greater by billions that in the morning. But as these paper marks are turned out, their value is correspondingly depressed and at the end of the day, the total value of the German currency is less than at the start.
Is Not Enough Money for Business
"As prices rise and the value of the mark falls each day, it takes an increasing amount of money to do business. And frequently it happens that there simply is not money enough to do business at all.
"Every German bank is crowded with people trying to get money with which to do business. Huge crowds are jammed about the windows of every paying teller, waiting for hours to draw out money. And I believe that these windows are deliberately undermanned to slow up the outgo of specie.
"While I was staying at Munich, for example, I went to one of the banks to draw some money on my letter of credit. It was the Dresden bank, once one of the most prosperous in Germany. It was located in an enormous building which was a relic of its former prosperity. It had marble floors, and massive columns supporting a high arched roof. For hours I waited my turn at the crowded window. And when finally my turn came, all the money that that great bank was able to allow me amounted to less than two dollars!
No Use in Saving Money
"With currency values ever decreasing in this financial chaos, the one thing you must not do, in Germany, of course, is to save your money. It is for that reason that people are so eager to draw their marks out of the banks and spend them before their value has decreased any further. Germany is moved by a feverish activity of spending, which is often misinterpreted as prosperity by those who do not understand the true conditions.
"As a result there is a tremendous amount of speculation. Germany has become a paradise for wildest stocks. In every community where there is an inflation of currency, there appear certain expert monetary forecasters. These individuals are able to manipulate the currency in such a way as to make gigantic fortunes.
Some Huge Fortunes Are Made.
"But these huge fortunes made by a few men who know the game, are made at the expense of the thousands who do not. Organized laborers in essential industries are in a position to demand a sufficient number of millions of marks to constitute a living wage.
"But it is the people who are able to exert no such pressure that suffer most form the inflated currency. Women workers, students, salaried employes, and people with fixed incomes are especially hard hit by the country's financial disintegration
"In Munich there was an elderly won an who, before the war had had an ample living income form government bonds valued at 30.000 marks Last summer, when she was forced to sell the depreciated securities they realized barely enough to buy a pencil!"