Zimbabwe's Zombie Dollar Incident
Just two days after Zimbabwe’s 31st independence day anniversary, parts of the capital were reportedly in “panic” and “shock” due to spreading word that the Zimbabwe dollar — which has been out of use since April 2009 due to about 89.7 sextillion percent hyperinflation — was possibly back in circulation… a zombie currency back from the dead.
According to AllAfrica.com:
“A bank official who could not be named for professional reasons, yesterday said there was chaos at the bank after a woman who wanted to withdraw US $110, received wads of Zimbabwe dollar notes.
“This reportedly caused panic among customers in the queue who thought the Zimbabwe dollar was back in circulation. ‘The woman was then referred to another ATM and withdrew her US $110,’ said the official.
“In a written response yesterday, Interfin Bank officials confirmed that some clients had accidentally withdrawn some Zimbabwe dollar notes from one of their ATMs at Century Towers along Simon Machel Avenue… “Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted,” said the bank.
“Some bank officials claimed that the ATM in question had not been working for a long time and the technicians have been testing it using some Zimbabwe dollar notes. The machine was, however, left online. This resulted in some clients using the machine, said one of the bank officials.”
Inconvenience indeed! The only thing worse than getting zero dollars out of an ATM is probably getting bills that still have a value equal to zero. Well, both are probably better than getting mugged.
Zimbabwe experienced the 21st century’s first true hyperinflation. That such an economic catastrophe could take place in the modern era is a testament to the fact that it could probably take place at anytime… and perhaps anywhere, under the kind of circumstances that are growing ever more common in the industrialized, and highly money-printing, nations.
For its part, Monsters and Critics reports that 87-year old President Robert Mugabe “has repeatedly threatened to reintroduce the currency.” Supposedly, he explains he’d do this because Zimbabweans are having difficulty affording goods priced in US dollars. The idea that people could somehow better afford goods priced in a new local currency is, of course, absurd.
There was a time when Mugabe represented a heroic independence and highly-educated leadership. Now, he still yearns for a zombie Zimbabwe dollar. Let’s hope this kind of monetary logic doesn’t “gain currency” across the Atlantic.