Almost 500 million euros have been taken out of the Greek economy by suspicious Greeks who hid their old drachmas in their mattresses instead of converting them into euros twenty years ago, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Naturally, at the time of the currency changeover, all Greeks were urged to exchange their drachmas for euros as soon as possible. But some holdovers, suspicious of the European money, thought it would be prudent to keep some drachmas socked away for a rainy day — just in case.
That financial strategy has not panned out for them, however. According to a study undertaken by Bloomberg, drachmas worth an estimated 477.9 million are still safely tucked away all over Greece — never to be redeemed.
Almost 500 million euros worth of drachmas wasted by hoarders
And this is not only the coins, which are attractive, easily hidden and which are sometimes valuable for their age, but drachma banknotes as well. Not one of them is worth one euro now, leaving Greece almost a half billion euros poorer than it would otherwise be.
Some of this money may have been secreted by older people who had lived through extreme privation, wars and other conflicts of all kinds; they simply felt obligated to keep this stash of money safe — just in case.
Now, their children and grandchildren are often finding these hidden hoards of money — which are now completely and utterly worthless.
But it isn’t just the elderly, who perhaps understandably wanted to save what they could as a bulwark against future unknown disasters.
Even younger folks who had the urge to save what they can and stash it around the house as a hedge against financial catastrophe are known to have hoarded drachmas — and other southern European nationals are known to partake in this practice, including people who live in Italy, Malta, Spain and Portugal.
Bloomberg states that, incredibly, there most likely is several billion euros’ worth of defunct national currencies that have either been forgotten in hoards or is simply missing all around the eurozone.
Germans, who are known for their careful financial practices, are believed to have enough old German marks to equal €8.5 billion; however, luck is with them, since the Bundesbank decided long ago that it would continue to accept marks as legal exchange.
However, the same is not true in Greece — anyone who was unfortunate enough to have stuffed drachmas in their mattresses or anywhere else in their homes is out of luck — amounting to a tidy chunk of change.