The Woergl Currency and Demurrage

One of the most celebrated cases of community currency was that which occurred in the small town of Woergl in Austria in 1932-33. In the midst of the Great Depression, the mayor of that little town took the bold step of issuing into circulation a local currency, the impact of which was heard round the world. Many journalistic accounts have been written and circulated, but few definitive descriptions have been found, and even fewer critical analyses. But, because it is so celebrated, and because it was apparently so successful, this is a case well worth studying.

I have undertaken my own critical analysis and I think this would be a good place to start.

Comment on the Woergl Experiment with Community Currency and Demurrage by Thomas H. Greco, Jr. May 2002

Here are three reports from the 1934 volume of Annals of Collective Economy

  1. The Woergl Experiment With Depreciating Money
    by Alex. Von Muralt
  2. A French View of The Woergl Experiment: A New Economic Mecca
    by M. Claude Bourdet
  3. The End Results of the Woergl Experiment
    by Michael Unterguggenberger, Burgomaster of Woergl

The website of Hans Eisenkolb contains a wealth of monetary reform material with a particular emphasis on Silvio Gesell. It includes some interesting statistics on the decline in value of various national currencies, and Eisenkolb’s own proposals for an alternative medium of exchange based on the ideas of Gesell and modeled after the Woergl currency.

He has a large section on the Woergl currency, including an English translation of selected parts of Fritz Schwarz’s book on The Experiment in Woergl.

Geld Reform. This is a German language monetary reform website which has some English language material. It contains the entire text (in German) of the only book about the Woergl currency I know of: Fritz Schwarz’s book, Das Geldwunder von Woergl.

4 responses to “The Woergl Currency and Demurrage

  1. Pingback: Bank of England takes note of local money | Bristol Pound Blog

  2. Pingback: La Banca d’Inghilterra prende atto delle monete locali | altramoneta

  3. Hi there
    Last year, I did quite a lot of work for a group called “Banks need Boundaries!” – texts that try to bring together the economically literate and the infotainment-wary.
    Not an easy task, but see for yourself:
    http://www.banks-need-boundaries.net

    The approach taken by the Austrian part of that group is strongly based on Silvio Gesell and the Wörgl system of Mayor Unterguggenberger. It’s called ccc in English “community-created currency”, and bridges the gap between public money, as suggested by Positive Money, Huber and all that lot (“Sovereign Money”) and what you have today: frequent flyer miles and all sorts of quasi-currency.

    WIR-Bank, which issues a currency used among Swiss SMEs used to have a Wörgl-type “Umlaufsicherung” (in-built currency depreciation), but now no longer does.

    Incidentally, you might already be aware of this: today demurrage is basically a given, when you take the measly interest rates, and subtract inflation. My two cents!

    Most importantly, we have to end this situation of money that’s private, but which pretends to be public, namely the fractional reserve system. I am always reminded of the movie “When Harry met Sally”, where Harry says the worst kind of woman is one who is “high-maintenance, but thinks she’s low-maintenance.” THAT’S OUR MONEY SYSTEM.

    kind regards from Switzerland

  4. Pingback: Το πείραμα του Worgl (Βεργκλ): Πως οι τραπεζίτες ελέγχουν το χρήμα και καταστρέφουν την ευημερία | ΕΚΛΕΚΤΙΚΙΣΜΟΣ

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