Money: Happy Birthday, Dear Deutsche Mark

At its birth in 1948, the West German Deutsche mark scarcely seemed to be a currency that could produce a miracle. Most of the country's war-wrecked industry still lay in ruins; the economy was torn by inflation, black markets, and such a food shortage that hungry city dwellers trekked to the country in hordes to barter their clothes and furniture for farmers' grain and potatoes. Neither gold nor a cushion of foreign exchange backed the infant mark. Yet its creation proved to be the essential underpinning of the Wirtschaftswunder that transformed West...