Unemployment in Weimar Germany

October 15th, 2009

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Since the powerfully rally several months ago, there are many economic indicators that seems to point to an economic recovery (there are also indicators that point to worsening economic conditions). In Australia, we have the ‘honour’ of being the first Western developed country to be on the road to recovery, with unemployment rate actually falling. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), in the belief that emergency threat of deflation is over, decided to raise interest rates (and indicated that more rate rise will follow).

For the bears (particularly for those who are in the deflation camp), this is a very trying time. Some of them even seem to be throwing in the towel (e.g. Gerald Minack).

But is it really blue skies ahead?

Our view is that, when governments print copious amount of money, mirage of prosperity can appear. In fact, money printing, in addition to doing wonders for stock prices (see Should you be bullish on stocks?), can also do wonders for the unemployment rate. Let’s take a look at this book, The Economics Of Inflation- A Study Of Currency Depreciation In Post War Germany, written by Costantino Bresciani ? Turroni, an economist who lived through the German Hyperinflation of the 1920s,

In the summer of 1922 unemployment practically disappeared. It appears that?in spite of the gaps caused by the war in the ranks of the working population?the total number of individuals occupied in industry, agriculture, commerce, public services, etc., was greater in 1922 than before the war.

Next, we will show you the graph of the unemployment rate:

German unemployment rate 1913-1922

German unemployment rate 1913-1922

As we can see, in the midst of hyperinflation in Weimar Germany, as the standards of living of workers collapsed (as the German mark depreciate against the US dollar), the German economy had made great ‘strides’ in the area of unemployment!

So, don’t be surprised if the US economy’s unemployment numbers actually improved in the months to come. This need not necessarily be a sign of prosperity. Instead, it can be a sign of inflation.

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