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Greece and the Inter-War Economic Crisis$
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Mark Mazower

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202059

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202059.001.0001

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The Battle for the Drachma

The Battle for the Drachma

(p.143) 6 The Battle for the Drachma
Greece and the Inter-War Economic Crisis


Oxford University Press

The shock waves from the European financial debacle of 1931 reverberated through the Balkans. The collapse of existing international monetary institutions on the heels of the British sterling devaluation that autumn dealt the decisive blow to Liberal confidence. It led to a serious financial crisis in Greece that eventually pushed her off the gold standard. By staking so much on the outcome of his self-proclaimed ‘battle for the drachma’, Venizelos ensured that his failure to prevent devaluation would precipitate a serious political crisis as well. His ebullient rhetoric would come to sound increasingly hollow, and public opinion would swing towards the view expressed some time later by Dimitrios Maximos, a leading anti-Venizelist, that ‘his incorrigible optimism had led him and the country into a dreadful impasse’. This chapter charts the course of this stage of the crisis. It begins by sketching the background to existing monetary arrangements in Greece. For relations between the new central bank — the Bank of Greece — and the commercial banks left much to be desired. And as a result, the gold standard operated in Greece in a way which was not to be found in any textbook on banking theory, and which would have rather unexpected effects on the impact of the financial crisis there.

Keywords:   Greek monetary policy, devaluation, gold standard, financial crisis, Venizelos

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