Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hey, Buddy, Can You Spare a Hundred Billion Dollars?

One hundred billion dollars for three eggs? No, this isn't a Photoshop moment, this is Zimbabwe. Latest figures from Nov 2008 show an annual inflation of 89.7 sextillion (1021) percent. Here in the US, you can buy a chocolate bar for about 75 cents. It would be the same as if that very same chocolate bar jumped up in price to $673,000,000,000,000,000,000 in just one year. I may be missing a zero in there somewhere. Yow, that's faster than Mr. Spanky's ever expanding waistline! Needless to say, this basically wipes out any savings you might have had as a Zimbabwian.

Zimbabwe was once considered the "breadbasket of Africa" but has been in an economic meltdown due to land reforms (confiscating land from white farmers in the early 1990s and causing food output to plummet) and sanctions placed on it by western countries, resulting in a failure to pay its debts to the International Monetary Fund. Coupling that with President Mugabe's disputed reelection in June 2008 has caused the country to collapse even further. It makes our current financial troubles look mild in comparison.

There's a fascinating series of photos on the Sojourner's website that show some of the challenges that hyperinflation brings. Like trying to carry enough money to buy that chocolate bar!


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