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Greg Mankiw's Blog: Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe

Greg Mankiw directs us to Michael Wines, who is covering Zimbabwe's hyperinflation:

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe: The first page of today's New York Times has a good article, reminding us how bad monetary policy can be. Here is an excerpt:

How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Well, consider this: at a supermarket near the center of this tatterdemalion capital, toilet paper costs $417. No, not per roll. Four hundred seventeen Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750 -- in American currency, about 69 cents....

Mr. Mugabe's government has printed trillions of new Zimbabwean dollars to keep ministries functioning and to shield the salaries of key supporters -- and potential enemies -- against further erosion. Supplemental spending proposed early in April would increase the 2006 spending limits approved last November by fully 40 percent, and more such emergency spending measures are all but certain before the year ends....

Inflation, about 400 percent per year last November, edged over 600 percent in January, but began to soar after the government revealed that it had paid the International Monetary Fund $221 million to cover an arrears that threatened Zimbabwe's membership in the organization. In February, the government admitted that it had printed at least $21 trillion in currency -- and probably much more, critics say -- to buy the American dollars with which the debt was paid. By March, inflation had touched 914 percent a year, at which rate prices would rise more than tenfold in 12 months. Experts agree that quadruple-digit inflation is now a certainty...

Why Thabo Mbeki has not moved to depose Mugabe is a great mystery.

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