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Zimbabwe releases $10 million bill
As the US economy inches ever closer to a recession, it might provide a little perspective to look at what a real economic crisis looks like. Plagued by hyperinflation of over 50,000% a year, Zimbabwe's central bank recently decided to issue $10 million notes-- believed to be the highest denomination of currency in the world today. The bill, worth less than US$4, is barely enough to purchase a hamburger. One writer illustrates the rampant inflation:
"The bill is exactly the same color, layout and design as a $20 bill I've been carrying in my wallet since my trip to Zimbabwe 15 months ago... When I wrote about that $20, it was worth about $0.025 USD - a silly amount of money to represent with a bill, but still a functional piece of currency. At the moment, that bill is worth $0.00000005 cents, or 5 hundred-millionths of a cent."
Residents of Zimbabwe have been forced to use brick-shaped stacks of worthless bills to purchase even everyday items, like groceries. This is what it took to buy a beer just a month ago-- today the situation is still worse. The introduction of the $10 million bill is a response to this, but given the astronomical rate of inflation, the bill will only hold its value for a few weeks before it too becomes worthless
Despite the dismal economic situation, the central bank's much-maligned governor, Gideon Gono, offers this risible bit of encouragement: "As monetary authorities, we once again assure the nation that we are in full control of the currency situation."