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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Check in the Guinness Book of World Records Under Holy Damn, Can That Be Right?

This is an amazing story--amazing in that the country of Zimbabwe still exists as a mostly cohesive entity. That the economy hasn’t collapsed to the point that the government can no longer function just beggars belief.

Zimbabwe’s annual rate of inflation has surged to 2,200,000%, official figures have shown.

The figure is the first official assessment of prices in the troubled African nation since February, when the rate of inflation stood at 165,000%.

Zimbabwe, once one of the richest countries in Africa, has descended into economic chaos largely blamed on the policies of President Robert Mugabe.

Zim dollars are worthless--worth less, probably literally, than the paper the stuff is printed on. Which brings up the next story about Zim’s failed leadership:

It has come to this - Zimbabwe is about to run out of the paper to print money on.

Fidelity Printers & Refiners, the state-owned company that tirelessly churns out bank notes for the Mugabe regime, was thrown into a crisis early this month after a German company stopped supplying bank note paper because of concerns over Zimbabwe’s recent violent presidential election, widely seen as fraudulent by international observers.

The printing operation slowed drastically. Two-thirds of the 1000-strong workforce was ordered to take leave, and two of the three money-printing shifts were cancelled.

The result on the streets was an immediate cash crunch.

Intriguingly, if Fidelity continues to refuse to supply the special paper, it will become even more likely that Mugabe’s government will crumble. Without the truckloads of cash to pay off the cronies, military, and police, Mugabe’s true base of support may well crumble. With every passing year, Mugabe’s leverage on the people of the country erodes a touch more; unfortunately, it also leaves more dead, displaced, and unfed citizens suffering under his failing government, too.

It would be funny (although, ultimately, quite damaging) to see the government fail because it could no longer print money. What the democratic process has thus far failed to do may be accomplished by such a small thing as special paper.

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