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Greek crisis ‘awakens age-old anxieties about what paper money itself means, what relations of power and trust it symbolises and what happens when they begin to break down’

Cultures of Trust

It’s time for artists to take over the banks

Nicky Marsh, University of Southampton

Although things in Greece appear to have stabilised slightly after a fortnight of dramatic uncertainty, the heightened speculation on the future of Greek money that we saw at the height of the crisis is by no means irrelevant.

A BBC journalist, speaking in Athens just as the referendum results were reported, considered the whereabouts of the drachma printing presses (he needn’t have bothered: the Greek finance minister had confirmed some days earlier that they had been destroyed on Greece’s entry into the euro). Elsewhere, scenarios involving Greece printing euros independently of the European Central Bank, stamping existing euros with the word “drachma”, using IOUs, bitcoins or local currencies began to circulate.

These anxieties weren’t confined to Greece. On the day that the German parliament voted on the bailout, the light artist…

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