This posting is going to have to be of a more than usually interrogative sort, since I am more than usually ignorant of that whereof I blog, and which I will now copy and paste:
Certainly, on my travels, I’m going to be wary of accepting euro notes with serial numbers that are prefixed with the letters Y (coming from Greece) or M (from Portugal).
I shall also strongly steer clear of notes with the serial numbers starting G (Cyprus), S (Italy), V (Spain), T (Ireland) and F (Malta).
This might sound as if I’m being ridiculously alarmist, but you cannot be too careful.
However, other euro notes should be reasonably safe.
These include those marked Z (Belgium), U (France), l (Finland) and H (Slovenia). As for those with serial numbers beginning with X (Germany), P (the Netherlands) and N (Austria), they can all be used with total confidence.
Is this common knowledge? Am I the last person in Europe to hear about this? I shouldn’t be surprised. You can tell which country printed which Euro. Well, well. Who knew? Who, even now, knows?
My big question, aside from wondering who else does or does not know this, is: supposing lots of people do know this, or get to know it, does it not provide a mechanism by means of which mere people might hasten the collapse of the more dubious EUrozone economies, by demanding, when being paid in actual money, to be paid only in Euros printed by the undubious countries?
Perhaps the answer might go: but making such judgments would be, in EUrope, illegal. Maybe so, but that won’t stop a black market making minute comparisons between differently lettered Euros, nor will it stop tourists in other parts of the world, planning their EUropean trips, demanding, once they hear such stories, to receive only the kinds of Euros that they would like. They could, for instance, refuse to accept the wrong kind of Euros, or, if given a mixture of good Euros and bad Euros, sort out the good from the bad and swap the bad ones back for pounds, or dollars, or whatever.
The wrong kinds of Euro notes, from the dubious countries, could soon be treated exactly as if they were forgeries, could they not? The big difference being that these forgeries will be easier to spot.
So, the much prophesied melt-down of the Euro can now be accelerated in a much more discriminating way than merely by people judging that the Euro as a whole will soon be disappearing down the toilet. We will all be able to decide – many may soon be forced to decide – which Euros will descend toilet-wards first. Won’t we? Can’t we? Now? I realise that there is more to money than mere bank notes. But if stories like those sketched above were to start circulating …
Has Oborne got his facts right about this? And if he has, do my supplementary questions also make any sense? As I say, this is all completely new to me, so I could soon, after the first few responses, be wishing that I’d never even asked.