Draghi has emulated in real life what Mephisto explained in advance as a fairy tale
Prof. Dr Eberhard Hamer*
In the Goethe era there was still a gold currency in circulation. Money consisted of gold or silver coins. Since precious metal was limited, the princes also repeatedly ran into financial difficulties when they wanted to spend more than they could earn.
Finance Minister Necker had first shown Louis XIV a way out: he – like the ECB – issued uncovered paper money notes instead of metal coins. These were accepted by the people and allowed the king a decade of life in excessive luxury (for example Versailles) – until the swindle ended in a crash.
Goethe took up this bubble of false prosperity created by fictitious money in Faust II. Mephisto suggests to the emperor that he create money through paper.
The chancellor announces:
“To whom it concerns, may you all know,
This paper’s worth a thousand crowns, or so.
As a secure pledge, it will underwrite,
All buried treasure, our Emperor’s right.
Now, as soon as the treasure’s excavated,
It’s taken care of, and well compensated.”
The emperor, however, had reservations because the paper money had no value:
“I smell a fraud, a monstrous imposture!
Who forged the Emperor’s signature?
Have they gone unpunished for their crime?”
The treasurer, on the other hand, replies:
“Remember! You yourself it was that signed:
Last night. You acted as great Pan,
Here’s how the Chancellor’s speech began:
‘Grant yourself this great festive pleasure,
The Peoples’ Good: a few strokes of the feather.’
You wrote it here, and while night ruled the land,
A thousand artists created another thousand,
So all might benefit from your good deed,
We stamped the whole series with your screed,
Tens, Thirties, Fifties, Hundreds, all are done.
You can’t think how well the folk get on.”
The emperor continues to doubt:
“And my people value it as gold, you say?
The Court and Army treat it as real pay?
Then I must yield, though it’s wonderful to me.”
The marshall reports:
“It flashed like lightning through the land:
The moneychanger’s shops are jammed,
Men pay, themselves, the papers mount
They’re gold and silver, and at a discount.
Now used by landlords, butchers, bakers:
Half the world thinks they’re merrymakers...”
Faust reflects on the relationship between the papers published without any real value:
“The wealth of treasure that solidifies,
That in your land, in deep earth lies,
Is all unused. In our boldest thought,
Such riches are only feebly caught:
Imagination, in its highest flight,
Strives to, but can’t reach that height.”
When the emperor further doubts that worthless paper would be accepted as real money, Mephisto dispels doubts about the uncovered paper money:
“Such paper’s convenient, for rather than a lot
Of gold and silver, you know what you’ve got.
You’ve no need of bartering and exchanging,
Just drown your needs in wine and love-making.
If you lack coin, there’s moneychangers’ mile,
And if it fails, you dig the ground a while.
Cups and chains are auctioned: well,
Since the paper, in this way, pays for itself,
It shames the doubters, and their acid wit,
People want nothing else, they’re used to it.
So now in all of your Imperial land
You’ve gems, gold, paper enough to hand.”
The emperor then asks his courtiers how they want to use the new prosperity created by the papers. Most of them want to use it to pay for food, celebrations and greater luxury, i.e. to increase their consumption.
Mephisto only talks to the fool, who alone stands sceptically aside. The fool asks:
“But see here, is it truly worth real gold?”
“You’ve there just what belly and throat are owed.”
“And can I buy a cottage, cow and field?”
“Why yes! There’s nothing to it: make a bid.”
“Tonight I’ll be substantial with my property”.
“Who doubts now that our Fool’s full of wit!”
Even Goethe already had the people cheer about the unrestrained glut of paper money. The population believed that the paper notes had a real value. In Goethe’s play, only the fool saw that this paper has only a fictitious value, is not covered, is not really of value and must therefore be quickly exchanged for material assets, so as to avoid the inevitable crash.
The FED and the ECB are once again throwing unlimited amounts of money into the market – not just as paper money, but as virtual money. And once again the population believes that this will make them become richer and they will be able to afford more than before.
Throughout history, unrestrained money multiplication, like drug intoxication, has brought only short-term joy and then collapsed in a withdrawal crash.
Goethe’s money multiplier and seducer of the people was Mephisto – today these are Draghi and his courtiers, who are opening the money gates without restraint.
How wisely Goethe foresaw the future – even if his sham money and the associated sham boom still consisted of paper, and he did not yet think virtually! •
Quotes mostly taken from “Poetry in Translation”, partly changed by Current Concerns.
(Translation Current Concerns)