$1.77 Every Year For Life: What Inflation Can Do To Your Finances: Lessons from Germany and its neighbors during the post-World War I inflation. This series of articles is not intended to imply that the U.S. is likely to encounter a hyperinflationary crisis. However, America has experienced bouts of serious inflation in the past and could easily do so again. The extreme conditions that occurred in Germany help to illustrate the mechanisms of inflation better than a more benign course of currency devaluation could do.

In hyperinflation, life boiled down to basics: food and shelter. Farmers provided the food. If Germans could not afford their products, farmers could hoard some or sell to foreigners. With the value of the Reichsmark falling, it was inexpensive for farmers to pay their mortgages off. After that, they still had more income than they needed, so they bought the household goods of the middle class. Everything was going the farmers’ way, but the townspeople were resentful. After the economy stabilized business was depressed. Farmers were forced to sell their produce for what the customers could afford–and that was meager pay indeed. The legacy of ill feelings toward the farming communities made government officials during the Hitler era less apt to accommodate the desires of agriculturists.

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