The Prince of currencies

I recently finished Liaquat Ahamed’s wonderful Lords of Finance, which hardly needs my encomium on top of the many great reviews it received (you might want to try Joe Nocera or Jonathan Davis).

But I suspect I’m one of the few readers who had an extra frisson when I read the following paragraph, about part of the response to FDR’s 1933 closing of all the banks in the country:

More than a hundred cities and towns, including Atlanta, Richmond, Knoxville, Nashville, and Philadelphia, issued their own scrip. The Dow Chemical Company coined magnesium into alternative coins. That prominent undergraduate newspaper, the Daily Princetonian rose to the occasion by assuming the role of central bank of Princeton and issuing $500 of its own currency, in denominations of 25 cents, which local merchants agreed to accept — a reflection of how adaptable and elastic the notion of money can be.

Thirty-two years ago (yikes), I was the Chairman of The Daily Princetonian, or the Prince as we called it (the post has now been sensibly renamed Editor-in-Chief). But I never knew that I was at the helm of a central bank. Just think, I could have put Central Bank Governor on my resume for all these years.

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