Chapter 195. Currency Reform (12)

The prime minister led the conference, and the nobles and vice minister-level civil servants in attendance continued to discuss the issue, arguing over every agenda. Each agenda was closely related to a territory’s interests, so it was more like an individual's struggle for their own interests rather than a fight between factions.

Even during the heated debate, Duke Asteria listened silently and did not offer his opinion. But as far as I could see, he was the focus of the conference. Just like wolves observing a giant tiger, nobles and bureaucrats gave their opinions and watched the duke closely. It was as if they were worried and afraid that as soon as the duke made a move, they would be bitten at the neck.

However, there were times when discussions became too long or fierce. Whenever that happened, the duke made gestures such as asking me for water or coughing dryly, and those amidst the heated debate would turn abruptly silent.

Watching how the conference was progressing, I could see how it was being conducted. When comparing the conference to a car, an axle, on which the conference rolled, was the prime minister, and the brakes to stop was Duke Asteria. Without either, the meeting would not have gone smoothly.

As the meeting continued, and the number of items left to cover grew thinner, the number of nobles with distorted facial expressions began to gradually increase. The nobles that wanted to shout immediately bit their lips as they looked at the faces of the prime minister and Duke Asteria.

"Now, here's the 13th Agenda. The agenda is currency reform."

Everyone in the hall began to stir at the prime minister's declaration. Even vice-ministerial civil servants, as well as ministerial civil servants, were perplexed.

Then suddenly, a count could not hold back his anger and stood up and hit the table.

Kwang-!

"I didn't hear of this beforehand! Who is it?! The person who came up with this agenda!"

His name on the plaque on the table was Margaret. For some reason, it sounded familiar like the name of a cookie.

Shortly after hitting the table, Count Margaret lowered his head after looking at Duke Asteria. "I apologize. I just got a little excited at the ridiculous agenda."

Duke Asteria still smiled silently and nodded at the other's apology, and the count of a cookie name breathed a sigh of relief.

"This agenda doesn't make sense. Just who came up with this agenda?" reiterated Count Margaret.

"In principle, it is prohibited to reveal the name of the person who submitted the agenda," the prime minister answered with a smile full of killing intent.

Because the delegates often dealt with sensitive issues involving territorial interests, no one knew who submitted the agenda except the prime minister, the chairman of the conference, to protect the proposer of the agenda. Of course, it was not a very efficient rule because you could roughly guess who proposed it by listening to the contents of the agenda. However, it was also a rule that was argued to be more important than any other rule in a political fight.

At the prime minister's answer, a count named Druval on the plaque raised his hand.

“Please speak, Count Druval.” 

“Thank you, Your Excellency Prime Minister." Druval put emphasis on the cabinet title ‘Your Excellency’, and smiled with his fat cheeks. 

"As Your Excellency Prime Minister says, let us follow the principle. But if it could be a big ‘blow’ to state affairs, or if it's a serious issue, wouldn't it be possible to disclose the proposer?"

"Oho, Count Druval, you seem concerned about the great ‘blow’ from currency reform?” the prime minister said ambiguously.

Count Druval shrugged lightly. "In the beginning, a little 'mistake' of reform is bound to be a huge loss. Even more so if it involves money.”

The prime minister and Count Druval stared at each other and fought a war of nerves.

Wow, I need popcorn. Fight!

In the midst of the fun situation, Duke Asteria took a bag of peanuts from his pocket and began to eat them with intrigued eyes.

Where did you get those peanuts?

The duke made a gesture for me to lend him my ear.

I brought my face to the Duke and he whispered quietly, “Do you want some?” 

Yes. Give me some, please. I wanted to say that, but I wasn’t powerful enough to chew peanuts here.

"No, it's all right."

In the first place, food was prohibited except water during the conference. But no one could say anything about the duke munching on peanuts. That's why people are after power. It was safe to say that the peanuts here were a symbol of power.

"Is that so?" The duke pretended to be sorry and put a peanut in my mouth. 

Mmm, tasty. It tasted like macadamia, not too rich.

"Just eat it." Duke Asteria shot a playful smile and handed me a bag of peanuts. "If anyone says anything, tell me."

With that, I opened the bag of peanuts without hesitation and ate. As I munched on the peanuts, no one even looked at me. Is this the perk of being an escort?

The duke and I watched the battle between the prime minister and Count Druval while eating peanuts. Count Druval made the first move.

"Reform is always the case, but currency reform has a lot of risks in particular. Why do you want to reform a currency that is running well in the first place?”

The prime minister responded with a relaxed smile at the attack. "You speak as if I suggested it. Well, fine. I'm in favor of currency reform, so let's talk. Please look at item No.3."

The prime minister spoke without looking at the materials.

That’s just putting lipstick on a pig. A square picture was drawn on the third document that the prime minister told him to look at.

"What is this?” Count Druval looked at the material curiously.

Other nobles also seemed to have no idea what the drawing meant.

"Isn't it written there? It's the design of the new currency."

"That’s why I am asking. Don't you think there will be difficulties in having a square currency that's much bigger than the existing one?" Count Druval looked at the prime minister as if it was ridiculous.

No, that's not it. This design was definitely...

"No, it's the opposite. Rather, it will show extreme convenience when you have it. Because!"

It was a bill!

"The currency will be made of paper!"

They all gasped at the cry of the prime minister.

"Pa-paper?!"

"What nonsense!"

As the inside of the hall became noisy, the duke shook his hands to shake off the peanut crumbs. The sound of the duke shaking the crumbs off his hands and the hall calmed down again. [1]

"Continue, Prime Minister," said the duke.

The prime minister nodded. "As I said, the new currency will be made out of paper. This has four advantages. First of all, as I said, changing materials from metal to paper makes it much easier to carry around in terms of weight and volume."

Certainly, bills were easier to carry than metal currency. Especially if you were going to have a lot of change.

"Secondly, it is effective in preventing counterfeit money. Traditional metal currency is easy to counterfeit by hiring a blacksmith while paper currency is extremely difficult to counterfeit. Even if counterfeits are made, it would be easier to detect it through the textures of paper and pictures on the currency, so it would be easier to prevent damage from counterfeits."

If you also included magic to prevent counterfeits, it would be essentially impossible to make counterfeit money. Especially if the counterfeiting method was manual and didn’t use magic, there was no way it could be fabricated.

"Thirdly, by using paper, which is cheaper than metal, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of money spent on making the currency, and the metal supplies that go into the currency can be used in other ways, which gives us more breathing room for other goods. In particular, platinum used in platinum coins is called a magic metal and used as a substitute for mithril. So if the platinum used in currency can be released into the market, the price of expensive magic tools can be reduced."

What I couldn't understand the most when I first saw a platinum coin was that platinum was being used as a currency. The same was true in my past life, but platinum was metal with an endless amount of usage. Of course, it was the same for gold and silver. Although they weren’t as good as platinum, gold and silver were also worth enough as magic catalysts.

"Fourthly, by unifying the units, convenience and administrative benefits will increase. Traditional currencies have used the name of each currency even though they have a unit called pelk. This has been a problem where the perception of the standard unit and each real currency is different. If we unify the currency to the standard unit with a single piece of paper, it will reduce the gap in perceptions of real currency."

The biggest problem with the imperial currency was the fourth point. It was confusing because there were some people who called the price by the pelk unit, while some said it with certain amounts of bronze and refined bronze coins. In particular, because the literacy rate was low, there were some people who changed the name and ripped people off.

Of course, I think the reason why the prime minister is trying to reform the currency was that he intended to wipe out the slush funds of the nobles. That’s why the faces of the nobles were red and angry.

The prime minister smiled at the nobles who were glaring at him and gnashing their teeth. His expression was a clear provocation.

"These four are good reasons to change to paper currency. Please keep looking through the materials."

At the request of the prime minister, the nobles clenched their teeth and read the material. 

“This! What is this?!” As the nobles kept reading the material, they were shocked again.

"As you can see from the materials, the currency reform will not be simply turning existing currency into paper currency, but will be a major reform that will eliminate anything greater than refined silver coin currency!"

I was impressed by the prime minister's declaration. This was not just a simple reform. What he announced was a radical reform that would not be strange even if it was called a revolution.

"No way! How can you eliminate currency higher than refined silver?!"

The nobles, of course, protested. Currency higher than refined silver coins were for the nobles. In other words, it was a symbol of vested interest and a product of convenience. The problem was that abolishing these currencies was not just trampling on symbols, but was also causing enormous damage to the nobles. If the reform were to succeed, more so than just suppressing the nobles immediately, it would be tantamount to laying the groundwork to halt the nobles from gaining power in the future. There would only be one future if the nobles were to be collared and their powers suppressed. It would be an absolute monarchy. The prime minister was declaring war on the nobles for the future of the absolute monarchy.

Upon the prime minister's declaration of war, Count Druval rose from his seat and launched a counterattack.


1. The sound made by him hitting his hands together to get the crumbs off.

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