Free Markets, Free People

Don’t think it can’t happen here

Brian Micklethwait, over at Samizdata, posted this picture. It’s a bank note from Zimbabwe. It has a pretty high face value: fifty trillion dollars. If you’d like one, you’ll have to shell out three bucks or so in US dollars to get it.


Currently, that comes out to an exchange rate of about Z$16.67 trilion to the dollar. That’s pretty unreasonable, by any stretch of the imagination, if you’re a Zimbabwean. But you know what would be worse? An exchange ratio of 1:1.

And I’m still not fully convinced it won’t happen.

Dale Franks
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16 Responses to Don’t think it can’t happen here

  • I doubt we will get hyperinflation, but 1970’s style inflation might be right around the corner.
    Although that probably will not happen either because republicans will most likely take over in one year, and they are not great, but they damn sure are more sane than the Democrats.
    But we will get some inflation, you can bet on that, there is just so much debt.

  • You dense rightie ex-military basket cases weaving your fantasies again. Of course it can’t happen here! We have wise leftists like Obama to guide us. He thinks like me, and he will navigate through this mess, if the Republicans let him.

    It was all started by Reagan, you know. Definitely not Carter or Johnson or any of the Democrats, so shut up about how the big social programs that are causing massive debt were put in place by them. They didn’t cause the sub-prime thing either that nearly led to financial amighedan arhmoghedoon armoojeddan catastrophe, and you righties are definitely too mean to Barney Frank. Probably because he’s gay. I think you thick righties secretly hate gays, just as the tea partiers are secretly racist, even though they try to hide it by supporting Herman Cain.

    Yes, Reagan cut taxes, and that was the start of the problem. Those wise people in Washington that I worked with in the 1980s could fix everything if we had kept the 70% tax rates that existed under Carter. They would have kept from starting all that deficit spending you see. So shut up about low growth and 10% unemployment and 12% unemployment and 14% mortgage rates under Carter. Those would have been a small price to pay for the glorious stability that Jimmy Carter would have given us had he been reelected instead of that odious Reagan.

    Anyway, after the Bush regime was over (finally!) and Obama of the christlike visage took over, things definitely started turning away from all this hyperinflation sort of stuff. If Republicans would just let Obama and his compassionate Democratic allies like Pelosi and Reid pass laws to raise taxes on rich people who don’t need the money, then everything would be ship shape in no time. Yes, the widening gap between rich and poor is the big problem we face.

    America is in decline, and the first step to reversing it is erasing the gap between rich and poor. I have extensive blog entries about that with lyrics from Styx and lines from Star Wars that prove conclusively that our problems go back to rich people having too much money.

    Not that I’m envious of them or anything. Nope. This is all intellectual analysis, and the fact that I’m a low-paid professor surrounded by moose herds, even though I’m really smart and I have an advanced degree from a very prestigious place with “advanced” in its name is completely beside the point. I’m spiritual, you see, so money doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s just that I see the horrible damage caused by that wide gap between rich and poor, and I just feel driven to argue against it, and show you dense Randian righties how you’re all wrong and I’m right about this.

    Because in the end, I’m always right. At least one of my predictions on every major issue can be interpreted if you look at it right as being a totally valid and prescient prediction. Why, I even predicted the election of 2010 correctly. Yep, I said on Nov 1 that the Democrats would have trouble holding the House. And you guys should shut up about me producing a link to that prediction, and for goodness sake stop showing links to where I predicted two weeks earlier that the Republicans would only pick up twenty seats or to my apology for getting it so wrong.

    See, that twenty seat prediction was based on wise political science judgment informed by deep knowledge of election history. So it was a completely appropriate prediction at that time. Even though you guys got lucky and started predicting a historic defeat for the Democrats pretty early, that was just wishful thinking that happened to come true. You don’t have advanced degrees, so you can’t be considered to have reliable political analysis. Oh, no, only experts can be reliable political analysis. Correctly predicting a high percentage of past elections has nothing to do with it. I decree it.

    So I come over here from time to time and try to educate you about all this. Definitely not because I need someone to talk down to so I can boost my self image which is depressed because I work sixty hour weeks for paltry wages teaching bored undergraduates. No, that’s absolutely not true, and I didn’t either cut back on coming here because you guys own me every time I do or because of those stupid parodies which aren’t even funny. At least I don’t get the jokes.

    If only you would engage me as an equal, we could have wonderful discussions where we go back and forth a thousand times, with you doing your best to justify your silly positions and me airily hand-waving aside your arguments with dismissals informed by my godlike powers of political science. That’s why I get to decree things and don’t have to support them with links, you know.

    You should consider yourself privileged that I’m willing to treat you as an equal in those exchanges. Though, of course, I get to decree what arguments are valid and which are not. Because of my advanced degree, of course. After all, some people are more equal than others.

  • They’d be better off using the rocks pictured on the bill as currency instead

  • Yeah, about those rocks. Most countries have some grand building or prominent citizen or something impressive on their currency, and the best Zimbabwe can do is a pile of rocks? Hard times indeed.

    • I thought first the rocks were some reference to the buildings Great Zimbabwe, but apparently they are just natural rock formations common in that part of Africa.

      I also learnt that Great Zimbabwe was possibly abandoned centuries ago because of climate change. No doubt all those old African farmers driving their Mercedes SLK, BMW M-series and Hummers. But then again this is wikipedia…

      • It seems even mother nature can stack rocks. Interesting that given the choice of neatly stacked rocks  as at Great Zimbabwe, or not-so-neatly stacked rocks , they chose the later.

        The sad thing is that Great Zimbabwe probably could not be built today  without ‘European’ help.

  • They should put on a pic of a Sealous Scout with a camo FN-FAL. Oh yeah, that was the side Carter sold out.

  • Actually, they were introduced as a replacement for the Rhodesian Dollar were, the last time I exchanged US dollars for them worth $1.50US.

  • I guess I don’t see how your parallel universe operates.  In our universe, all-time low rates on sovereign debt signals that, if anything, deflation is the more pressing concern.

    • Let me see now. Hmmmm. Low rates on sovereign debt and rising prices on everything else plus massive government money creation means deflation. Right.

  • Zimbabwe stopped printing currency in 2009.  They switched over to South African Rand and US Dollars as “official” currency.  The 3 dollars you are spending for the 50 Trillion bill is simply reflects the collectability of the bill.  I think the 50 Trillion bills were the last batch of bills printed.
    After the switch to foreign currencies in 2009 you could by a sheaf of Zimbabwean 20 or 30 bills for about 7 or 8 dollars or so (50 Rand), that would include a couple 50, 10 1 Trillion bills, plus a number of Billion bills in touristy areas like Victoria falls.
    The really shameful thing in that country was what they did to the farmers and the farms.  Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa, then Mugabe stirred up hatred of white farmers.  He then gave the stolen farms over to cronies, lackeys and loyal soldiers…all of whom had no idea how to run a farm.
    Some of the lucky white farmers moved to Zambia, which welcomed them with open arms.  Now Zambia is on it’s way to becoming the bread basket of Africa.

    • I have six $100 trillion bills from Zimbabwe so the $50s weren’t the last.  I picked them up for $3US each.
      On a slightly related topic, I find it ironic that the arse-hats in Washington are lecturing China on currency manipulation.  What exactly do these politicians think the Fed is doing when it buys US Treasuries?  Oh, that would be manipulating the currency!
      The only thing backing up the US dollar is the full faith and credit of the US government.  If you lose that then you get something like Zimbabwe.

    • “what they did to the farmers and the farms”

      The inspiration for OWS.