Like many North Koreans, the construction worker lived in penury. His state employer had not paid him for so long that he had forgotten his salary. Indeed, he paid his boss to be listed as a dummy worker so that he could leave his work site. Then he and his wife could scrape out a living selling small bags of detergent on the black market.That is horrible, absolutely horrible. And yet, this is what happens in every country that has a central bank and a printing press, albeit less suddenly over a longer period of time. And there really is no reason whatsoever why the same exact thing (sudden mass devaluation of the currency) could not be employed as a means of solving the US's sovereign debt crisis by someone like Ben Bernanke.
It hardly seemed that life could get worse. And then, one Saturday afternoon last November, his sister burst into his apartment in Chongjin with shocking news: the North Korean government had decided to drastically devalue the nation’s currency. The family’s life savings, about $1,560, had been reduced to about $30.
Last month the construction worker sat in a safe house in this bustling northern Chinese city, lamenting years of useless sacrifice. Vegetables for his parents, his wife’s asthma medicine, the navy track suit his 15-year-old daughter craved — all were forsworn on the theory that, even in North Korea, the future was worth saving for.
“Ai!” he exclaimed, cursing between sobs. “How we worked to save that money! Thinking about it makes me go crazy.”
Eventually, he'll have to print money, and a lot of it. The tragic, life-savings destroying overnight devaluation is all but inevitable, as is the concomitant misery and outrage that will follow.
If you think the government has already stolen enough of your wealth and savings, you ain't seen nothing yet!