Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm a multi-trillionaire

I have occasionally been following the simultaneously sad and ludicrous hyperinflation in Zimbabwe via new reports on public radio. I remember laughing out loud in my car when a reporter said that the cost of a loaf of bread had reached ten billion dollars.

Late last year, inflation was so out of control that prices were doubling every 1.3 days, yielding an annual inflation rate estimated at 516 quintillion percent. (See here.) The government responded by producing currency of ever-higher values. That trend hit its peak in January, 2009, with what you see above: the 100-trillion-dollar note. It didn't last long. As of July, the Zimbabwe dollar officially ceased to exist. The bills are now worthless as legal tender. The last radio report I heard the other day said that they blow in the streets and people don't even bother to stoop to pick them up.

Their only value now is as novelty items, which is how they are being sold on ebay. You can buy them from several vendors there, as I did, for about $3, including postage.

It's really quite a nice note--except for the completely absurd demonination. It is also a sad testament to what happens when incompetent and corrupt governments destroy the economy of a nation.

Speaking of which, we probably shouldn't laugh too loud at the fate of the Zimbabwean dollar. With the insanely out-of-control spending of the current U.S. administration--only slightly less corrupt and misguided than that of Zimbabwe--virtually certain to produce a recurrence of our own unhappy history with inflation, our currency may also become, in the not-too-distant future, nothing more than a curiosity to be sold on ebay to those in other nations who will own what used to be our wealth.


There are some who call me... Tim said...

Please stick to poker, or at least know your history before commenting about an administration's competency....

The current administration inherited a mess. Half of the extra spending you are commenting about was actually passed by the previous administration. The deficit was doubled by the previous administration and their refusal to keep spending in check while slashing taxes/revenues. That is not to say the current administration cannot cause harm if spending is not brought back in check, but don't blame the current admin for today's situation.

If you want to follow somebody who seems to have a good and realistic view of our situation, check out Megan McArdle (

But, please, stick to poker related items. This is the 2nd time I've noticed that you've attempted a political joke, and both bombed - horribly.

Anonymous said...

There is a petition somewhere to get Pokerstars and Full Tilt to allow bankrolls to be kept in euros.

Ray said...

Hey Tim,

Unless you regularly decide spend as much money as you can when your personal finances are tight, please agree to disagree rather than questioning the Grump's comments.

They are his opinion and you are entitled to yours.

FTR, you sir are misguided. Yes, this administration has inherited problems. However, that is no excuse for the irresponsible actions they have taken in the face of our current situation.

They are just as much to blame, if not moreso since when Bush was spending like an idiot, he was doing so in a better in financial place.

What is going on now borders on criminal.

There are some who call me... Tim said...

Ray - This is PG's blog, so he is entitled to express his opinion (and he does very well on many topics, including politics). My comment was to correct a horrid misstatement worthy of a teabagger, and I know that PG is much smarter than that.

Now, if we are to talk criminal... how about outing a spy for political retribution against her husband, or illegal surveillance (must have been illegal if Congress had to pass retroactive immunity!)?

Anyways - give the current guy a chance. Lots of talking heads (most on Faux News) are spewing "in 20 years, history will prove W was great" while proclaiming O a failure after mere months...

Rakewell, sorry about the repeated political statements. This will be the last unless one of your other readers spews hatred or lies. Your blog, your opinions, so I'll bite my tongue on your comments and simply enjoy the rest of your entertaining and educational writings. Thank you for those!