Cigarette Money in POW camp.
Cigarette Money in POW camp: The P.O.W camp was an example of a simple economy driven by barter trade. Most trading was that of food against other foodstuffs or cigarette. The trend continued for some time until cigarettes rose from their normal status to monetary value.
Red Cross supplied all the people in the camp equally with a parcel of food each week including cigarettes. Being a rare commodity, people started exchanging food for cigarettes, until it became a routine.
Even non smokers began valuing the commodity because it was able to earn them other luxurious foodstuffs. With time, people began exchanging their foodstuffs with cigarettes as the common value. Soon, cigarette attained a monetary standard value.
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People would also avail their services in exchange for cigarettes. Inflation and deflation of the currency was a significant part of the economy. The introduction of new currency and cigarettes in large quantities on weekly basis led to fall in prices, and trading declined.
The prices depended largely on cigarettes availability and food deliveries to some extent. The prices fluctuated weekly, rising sharply on Mondays and falling towards the end of the week. Other factors that affected the price were the influx of the new prisoners.
The reduction in the supply of cigarettes by half also affected the value of cigarettes accordingly. The trend persisted even with the introduction of paper currency, which was used interchangeably with cigarettes. However, as time progresses, paper currency became evidently significant.
Radford, R.A. (1945). The Economic Organization of P.O.W. Camp.
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