The 10 Million Dollar Bookmark and the 35 Billion Dollar Egg

Zimbabwean100BillionDollarNote.jpg “A vendor arranges eggs on a new 100 billion Zimbabwean dollar note in Harare July 22, 2008. Zimbabwe’s central bank introduced new higher-value 100 billion Zimbabwe dollar notes on Monday as part of a desperate fight against spiralling hyperinflation, the bank said. An egg now costs $35 billion.” Source of caption and photo:

(p. A1) Robert Mugabe has kept his embattled regime in Zimbabwe afloat on a sea of paper money. Now, he’ll have to try to do it without the paper.

The Munich-based company that has supplied Zimbabwe with the special blank sheets to print its increasingly worthless dollar caved in to pressure on Tuesday from the German government for it to stop doing business with the African ruler.

Mr. Mugabe’s regime relies on a steady supply of the paper — fortified with watermarks and other antiforgery features — to print the bank notes that allow it to pay the soldiers and other loyalists who enable him to stay in power. With an annual inflation rate estimated at well over 1 million percent, new notes with ever more zeros need to be printed every few weeks because the older ones lose their worth so quickly.
. . .
Zimbabwe’s central bank stopped posting inflation figures in January, when it stood at a relatively modest 100,580%. A loaf of bread costs 30 billion Zimbabwean dollars.
. . .
Mr. Mangoma uses a 10 million Zimbabwe dollar bank note, worth 0.0008 of a U.S. cent, as a bookmark because he doesn’t “care if I lose it.”

For the full story, see:
MARCUS WALKER and ANDREW HIGGINS. “Zimbabwe Can’t Paper Over Its Million-Percent Inflation Anymore; Under Pressure, German Company Cuts Off Shipments of Blank Bank Notes to Mugabe.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., JULY 2, 2008): A1 & A10.
(Note: ellipses added.)


“Harare produce seller Chipo Chivanze needs a basket of cash to make change because of Zimbabwe’s battered currency.” Source of caption: print version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above. Source of photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.

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