Amidst the truculent games being played on a daily basis by senior government figures and international finance organisations, it’s not a surprise to learn that even Angela Merkel is ‘resigned’ to the possibility of a Grexit. If it occurs, be warned that it will happen with no prior warning over a weekend, as did the institutionalised theft a year or two ago of savings from bank accounts in Cyprus. It’s quite possible that we shall wake up one Monday morning to find all our lovely euros converted into swiftly devaluing drachmas.
Why do you think that they installed double doors at all bank entrances, on this safest of islands? Clue: It’s not as a buffer for the aircon.
Many folk all over the country have already emptied their bank accounts, and they are keeping the cash under the metaphorical mattress (preferably made by Imperial Strom of Gouvia). The authorities dread a run on the banks, and those double security doors are easily lockable. And at the same time the ATMs can be shut down from within the bank premises. The government is currently considering limits on cash withdrawal and a block on capital flight. So if you’re planning on a runner, you won’t be able to take your cash with you.
Basically, your money is not your own unless the government and the bank permits you to have it.
If you are holding euros notes at home, on day one after the re-drachma-ing of the economy, they will be worth just as much as they were the day before, while the new drachma could already have plummeted (some estimate by up to 85% within days), wiping out the value of your bank-converted euros. In fact, if the drachma devalues, even say by half, your home-held euro notes will have gained twice their local purchasing power.
There is just one small problem.
Euro notes are not issued by a European Central Bank, but by individual countries according to a quota. The Bank of Greece issues some of the notes in circulation; and it is possible in a post-Grexit world that these notes may no longer be honoured. So how can you tell which are the timebombs?
On the reverse of the notes you’ll find a serial number, preceded by a letter. It’s this letter which indicates the issuing country. I’m not going to list them here as you can look up the information on Wikipedia (which is useful for this sort of straightforward fact-finding). Google ‘euro banknotes wikipedia’. What you need to know is that Greece is represented by a ‘Y’. Go through your banknotes and separate these from the rest, and spend them first, perhaps on big expenses like rent.
Ideally, you need to hold on to notes with an ‘X’ on the serial number, because ‘X’ represents Germany, and as long as the euro holds up, these will never be out of demand. Ultimately, it would be a good idea to get rid of notes from all the PIIGS countries, plus Cyprus and possibly Malta, then those from the small former Eastern Bloc countries – and save the ones from Northern Europe.
This all may be academic, and I hope it is. But this covert game of pass-the-parcel could save you some of your money.

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