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Get Them Some Milk of Rhodesia

Zimbabwe has $217.00 in the bank. You read that right.

There are cash-strapped governments, and there are broke governments. And then there’s Zimbabwe, which, after paying last week’s government salaries, has just $217 in the bank. No, we didn’t forget any zeroes to the end of that figure. Zimbabwe, the country that’s home to some of the world’s largest plutonium and diamond reserves, is literally as rich as a 14-year-old girl after a really good birthday party. The country’s finance minister admitted as much in a press conference on Tuesday . “Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 [left] in government coffers,” Tendai Biti told reporters. “The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”

So it seems. However, Zimbabwe is hardly a stranger to financial hyperbole. The economy started to come apart at the seams in 2000, when President Robert Mugabe seized the land of over 4,000 white-owned farmers , effectively dismantling the country’s agriculture industry. Over the course of the next decade, the country spiraled into an extended period of hyperinflation, the likes of which the world almost never sees. It peaked in August 2008, when inflation reached 11,200,000 percent and economists around the world started to say that the country’s situation was hopeless . Prices were doubling by the day, and the government had to print 100 billion Zimbabwean dollar notes. The following year, they went ahead and printed Z$100 trillion notes, just before deciding to chop 12 zeroes off of the currency. A new coalition government formed that year began the long process of recovery, a process that is clearly going to take a little longer.

I normally might have some snarky semi-serious statement about the need for a return to British control, but while that might be better in the short run, I’m not sure the long term result would be much different. Reaping, sowing, etc.

10 comments to Get Them Some Milk of Rhodesia

  • JS Lawalin

    [cabinet has been debating putting water on the plants instead of Brawndo]
    Scientist: What *are* these electrolytes? Do you even know?
    Zimbabwe Secretary of State: They’re… what they use to make Brawndo!
    Scientist: But *why* do they use them to make Brawndo?
    Zimbabwe Secretary of Defense, brought to you by Carl’s Jr: [raises hand after a pause] Because Brawndo’s got electrolytes.

  • Texacalirose

    “President Robert Mugabe seized the land of over 4,000 white-owned farmers, effectively dismantling the country’s agriculture industry.”

    Reaping, sowing, lack there of indeed. Social justice. They need a bailout. Too big to fail. Who approves that now? John Carries-Ubama’s-water?

    I taught school with a woman (1993) whose husband was a white Rhodesian farmer. He fled and came to the California San Joaquin Valley and became a successful citrus farmer. God bless America.

  • INFJ

    Obama’s brother complained that the Brits left Kenya too quickly. I have Indian friends who thought that they were the benificiearies of a gradual transition of power under Baden Powell. they were left with a democracy instead of tyranny.

  • Tink in Cali

    That’s quite an inflation rate they had/have there.

  • -fritz-

    Isn’t Zimbabwe in Orange County?

  • kbiel

    The sad thing is Zimbabwe still has $16,000,000,000,217 more than we do.

  • Scott M.

    A lot of those white farmers went to Zambia(one time Northern Rhodesia).Zambia wanted their agricultural skills,and is doing well.

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