Zimbabwe: 21st Century Hyperinflation

Saturday, Oct 31, 2009

Zimbabwe is the first country in the 21st century to hyperinflate. In February 2007, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate topped 50% per month, the minimum rate required to qualify as a hyperinflation (50% per month is equal to a 12,875% per year). Since then, inflation has soared...

By the end of November [2008], however, there were virtually no non-cash Zimbabwe transactions taking place and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange had stopped trading. The non-cash Zimbabwe dollar is, therefore, dead.

Ashes are all that is left of the Zimbabwe dollar — a remnant of paper money. During Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, foreign currencies replaced the Zimbabwe dollar in a rapid and spontaneous manner. This “dollarization” process was legalized in late January 2009. Even though the Zimbabwe paper money remnant circulates alongside foreign currencies, its real value is tiny, its use is limited, and its value against the U.S. dollar is cut in half every two days.

Zimbabwe failed to break Hungary’s 1946 world record for hyperinflation. That said, Zimbabwe did race past Yugoslavia in October 2008. In consequence, Zimbabwe can now lay claim to second place in the world hyperinflation record books.

R.I.P. Zimbabwe Dollar, Steve H. Hanke, Professor of Applied Economics, The Johns Hopkins University, February 9, 2009, http://www.cato.org/zimbabwe.

Economics book chapter: http://www.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/KW32.pdf