While these novelty banknotes are obviously not official Zimbabwean legal tender, they probably have about the same purchasing power. Below are the most recent listings for Zimbabwe novelty currency:
Take some time to carefully consider this question: Isn't it true that you've hit the pinnacle of monetary awesomeness when you have a GOLD banknote with the words "100 Trillion" printed on it? Where else can you go from there except to some netherworld of numismatic nirvana? Well, if you ever plan to get there, you're going to have to scoop up some of these Zimbabwe novelty banknotes for your journey!
Zimbabwe's Economic Meltdown: How Did It Happen?
Trying to attribute Zimbabwe's economic downfall to only one or two factors is like trying to build a car engine with only screws and rubber gaskets. The fact is that there are a multitude of variables that contributed to the horrific hyperinflationary tsunami that devastated Zimbabwe's economy in the late 00's. If we could name one factor that seemed to be a catalyst for this living nightmare, it would be the ill-advised land reform program (brought about by the Lancaster House Agreement) that was initiated in 1980. This myopic attempt at wealth redistribution is a case study in unintended consequences. Although it was more than likely a well-intentioned effort, it killed the country's productivity by expropriating valuable farmland out of the hands of skilled farmers who had been living in Zimbabwe for generations, and placing it in the hands of largely unskilled subsistence farmers. Even Robert Mugabe himself, who spearheaded the land reform program, later commented that many of the individuals who received farmland through the program were under-utilizing the land, resulting in dismal productivity levels. Since Zimbabwe's economy largely thrived from agricultural products, this stifled economic activity and precipitated a collapse of the credit markets in the country as well. Not only that, but the Mugabe government also spent themselves into a financial abyss trying to fund their military efforts in the Second Congo War. Now sprinkle in a healthy dose of cronyism and fiscal irresponsibility prompted by total corruption, and you have an economic "perfect storm" of epic proportions.
If Robert Mugabe took a dose of sodium pentathol...
Image credit: Kevin Kallaugher
So how do all of the above factors (and believe us, there are many more) eventually lead to a place where a country is printing 100 trillion dollar bills? Simply put, the Zimbabwean government begin to engage in money printing to monetize its ever-growing debt. This Keynesian principle can serve to "prime the pump" as long as economic productivity continues to move along at a decent clip, but when an economy has completely stalled (as Zimbabwe's did), you have the classic situation where too much money is chasing too few goods and services. Eventually, Zimbabwe's money became completely worthless because there was nothing of tangible or intrinsic value to back it up anymore. May we look upon this harrowing economic lesson as a warning against fiscal irresponsibility and crudbucket cronyism!!!
So, although we approach much of the content of this website with a poignantly punctilious degree of levity and gregarious garrulousness, you can see that the causes and effects of the Zimbabwe hyperinflation episode are no laughing matter. So why not lighten the mood a little bit by purchasing some of these novelty Zimbabwe banknotes to add to your collection?