Hungary’s Central Bank is burning billions of forints, as the national currency is called, to offer the needy a hand with their heating bills.
Reduced to pulp and pressed together with bits of wood, 5 million forints make a nice handy one-kilo briquette. This can be thrown in the stove to keep a room warm for some time, or heat up water in a boiler.
The bank funnels some 200 billion Hungarian forints into the heating project annually. This accounts for about a quarter of all cash circulating in the country, or 40 to 50 tons of money.
The bills, of course, are those too worn for further circulation, which would otherwise have been put to some different use. The bank prints new forints to replace what it takes out.
The facility where cash is turned into fuel is held under tight security. Workers have to wear clothes with no pockets.
The money briquettes go to Hungarian charities. Using them for heating saves about $250 a month.