Chapter 196. Currency Reform (13)

Count Druval rose from his seat, and without seeking permission to speak from the prime minister, began to assert himself. 

"The currency reform Your Excellency mentioned is nothing but a fantasy!" He looked towards Duke Asteria and other nobles, and continued to speak, "First of all, the paper currency that His Excellency mentioned doesn't make sense in itself. First, His Excellency said paper currency is lighter and more convenient than metal currency. Yes, I am sure it would be easier to carry a piece of paper than a lump of metal. However, money was not made from metal for no reason. Money is an object that goes through the hands of many people. But if it is made out of paper, it will quickly be damaged and ruined."

As he spoke at length, Count Druval moistened his throat with water, regained his breath, and resumed. "In the first place, money is a social promise. It is based on trust! How can I trust and use money that I can't use for long periods of time and is easily damaged?"

The prime minister held back a complaint. He was asking just who would place their trust in just words.

"Certainly, paper is weak compared to metal. But the materials for the paper to be used in the reform are tough, sturdy, and waterproof, unlike ordinary paper."

When the prime minister took out a bill from his pocket that looked like the sample shown in the materials, the civil servants from the central ceremony department handed out samples of the new bills to the nobles. The one who handed a bill to me and Duke Asteria very quickly returned to his original position.

I pulled on the bill lightly. The texture was quite rough, but it didn’t seem very different from the bills from my past life except being much tougher.

What kind of wood did they make this out of? Wait, the smell of the bills was familiar. Did they use trees from Olympus Forest?

Suddenly, I felt cold. Don't tell me...

There’s no way...

"The trees that make this paper currency are special, so even if you put them in a humid and shady place, they won't be eaten by insects or become moldy," said the prime minister.

My anxiety was turning into reality. Probably, in all likelihood, the Crow Tribe was involved with the currency reform. By now, a delegation from the Crow Tribe might have already secretly come to the capital.

Who came?

I'm sure Mr. Filan, the foreign minister, is here, but who would have come as the representative?

The foreign minister wouldn’t be the only one who would have come for such a big deal. There must be someone else who came as the representative...

Hestia noona who’s overseeing the matters of the tribe? Head Elder Weger? Or the great madosa, Elder Mirpa?

One of these three must have come to the capital.

No, I also had to consider the worst-case scenario. I’d hate to even imagine it, but there was a possibility that my father might’ve come to the capital.

"What's wrong? You don't look well." Duke Asteria looked at my face and whispered.

I replied with a smile, "It’s nothing."

"Is that so? Hang in there even if you aren’t feeling well. It'll be over in a little while."

The duke was still leisurely eating peanuts, interestedly watching the spar between the prime minister and Count Druval.

"Fine, I understand that the paper is quite tough. Then how much does it cost to make this paper? Even if it is just paper, with this type of paper, it must cost a lot of money, even more so with complicated manufacturing methods to prevent forgery. This means it would take a lot of time and money to create it."

As a merchant, Count Druval pointed out the money that would be going into currency reform. Even if a new currency was made, it would take a lot of time and money to recover all of the existing currency when it was already deeply embedded into the market.

The prime minister’s purpose was to turn the slush funds of the nobles into scrap paper and how much time he could reduce being spent on the reform was going to determine the outcome.

"Huhuhu, don't worry too much. The wood that is the material for the paper money is less than one-hundredth of the cost of printing the existing currency. Also, we have already prepared the technology and the production foundation to create the paper money."

Certainly, a couple of trees in Olympus Forest would be enough to make a year's worth of paper money. Not only was it so big, but it had also adjusted to Olympus Forest’s mana and showed a crazy growth rate, and so it was basically an unlimited raw material.

The only problem was that it was very difficult to cut down, but since 10 Crows could cut down a tree in half a day, there wouldn’t be a problem as long as they made a request. Although if my father did it, it would take less than a minute. If hundreds of trees were needed, there wouldn’t be much reduction in material costs, but if it was only two or three trees, then the cost would drop sharply.

Count Druval bit his lips as the prime minister spoke confidently.

"My concern is not just the cost of creating the money. It is the time and cost of recovering all the existing money and capital."

"The cost will be addressed by expanding the banks, the 14th item on the agenda."

I turned to the back and checked the bank expansion materials. The heart of the agenda was to accelerate the circulation of funds by increasing the number of banks, which were normally only in major cities and territories, to also provincial areas. Since it was a way to save the provincial economy, if it was done properly, the nobles would also welcome it with open arms. Also since the money for bank construction came from the national treasury.

But right now, the nobles had a rotten expression. They seemed to have realized that the prime minister was determined and prepared for currency reform.

"We will establish banks in provincial areas to accelerate the circulation of funds while simultaneously recovering and distributing money. The way I see it, the currency reform will be completed as early as a year or two at the latest."

He’s crazy. Is that even possible?

Just how many years has he been preparing for this currency reform that he can dare to say just one year?

There seemed to be a split between the treasury civil servants. A year was too tight for the slush fund to be money laundered. It was clear that the Treasury Office and the National Tax Service would bite at them like hungry wolves as soon as they made a mistake with money laundering.

"Fine...  Then how will you deal with abolishing currency above a refined silver coin? Currently, the basic budget of a territory is all set in currency above a refined silver coin. In reality, if we abolish currency above a refined silver coin, we will have difficulties in managing the territory because the volume of the currency that needs to be managed will be too large."

As if he had expected it wouldn’t work, Count Druval seemed to have put off blocking the currency reform itself.

For the nobles, even if they lost their slush funds due to currency reform, they had to block the abolishment of the currencies above refined silver coins at all costs. In my past life, in addition to state-run banks, there were foreign banks such as Swiss banks that could be used for private finances to avoid the eyes of the nation.

However, the banks of the empire were all state-owned and gave away secrets to the prime minister, which made it difficult to keep secret funds. It was clear that the prime minister was aiming at this and said he would abolish currency higher than refined silver coins.

The prime minister checked his watch and smiled. "Don't worry too much about that, either. For all of your convenience, we have prepared a new way to replace currency higher than refined silver coins. Please check material No.7.”

In material No.7, a rectangle was drawn with the imperial symbol and a line under it, along with a pattern "P”, meaning pelk, next to the line. It seemed very simple, but this format was a check.

"What is this?” Count Druval asked. He didn't know what the drawing was, but seeing the imperial symbol, Count Druval’s voice shook.

The prime minister showed a cruel smile. "It is a replacement for currency higher than refined silver coins for your convenience in the future."

He began to explain the concept of checks step by step. As the prime minister's explanation continued, the nobles’ faces became bluer and bluer.

The checks that the prime minister explained seemed to guarantee extreme convenience as whether it was tens of millions or hundreds of millions of pelk, it could be carried on a piece of paper. However, the true intention underlying the checks was that the imperial family would be briefed on the use of funds by nobles through the banks.

"This kind of thing…!" Count Druval trembled because he hadn’t predicted this far ahead.

This reform was possible because the entirety of the imperial bank system was in the hands of the prime minister. If the empire had allowed private banks, even the prime minister wouldn’t have dared to do this.

Come to think of it, the reason why there were no private banks in the empire was that the emperor and the nobles joined forces to weaken the temple by abolishing private financing when it was corrupt in the past. [1] It was ironic that what they did to survive before was now coming back to bite them.

Count Druval closed his eyes tightly then opened them immediately again. He smiled leisurely, regaining his composure. "U-huhuhu, Your Excellency. I still think currency reform is premature."

"And why is that?” asked the prime minister.

Count Druval spoke proudly, "If the currency of the empire was only used in the empire, there would be no problem. Your Excellency is right a hundred thousand times."

Ah, it's over! Count Druval was backing himself into a corner.

"But the currency of the empire is nothing less than a common currency that flows within the solid alliance of the Crow Tribe, Butterfly Tribe, and the Dragon Tribe. In that situation, what would it be like to change the currency based solely on the circumstances of our empire? If something were to go wrong, there could be a situation where the alliance, that makes the empire the world's most powerful nation, is broken."

My line of thought was wrong. The scent from these bills was the alchemy that was used to make it. It was a piece of paper that seemed to contain the essence of the Crow Tribe. At this point, it was more than just receiving consent. The Crow Tribe was an accomplice.

The prime minister nodded with a serious face. "Well, I see.”

The muscles of the prime minister's mouth trembled slightly. To me, it looked like he was barely holding back his laughter.

"Let's continue this discussion tomorrow. It is already almost time for His Majesty, the Emperor, to host the banquet,” said the prime minister.

The nobles looked relieved and elated as if they had grabbed a lifeline. Poor things. You're smiling because you don’t even know you’ve already fallen into a trap. 

The face of the prime minister looked like he was about to send a man to hell.

Today was the first time I saw the prime minister, but he was quite a formidable person. But besides that, Hestia noona was the only one who would do something like this. Then, it was likely that it was my big sister who was in the capital.

I wonder how much she got or will continue to get for revealing the technology to make this bill? If it was the former, I wanted to praise the prime minister, and if it was the latter, let's mourn in advance.

For the prime minister will be meeting the worst devil who went beyond me or my father.

1. The private financing here is kind of referring to private loans and charging interest. The temple earned a lot of money this way because they were corrupt, so the emperor wanted to block this and weaken the temple.

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