Zimbabwe Dollar

Zimbabwe is running out of cash and needs to print more money—so its central bank will print a new currency pegged to the U.S. dollar.

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July 22, 2017 – Free MCAT CARS Practice

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

Zimbabwe is running out of cash and needs to print more money—so its central bank will print a new currency pegged to the U.S. dollar. The move has led to fears that the southeast African nation will soon abandon its multicurrency system and return to the hated local currency.

Zimbabwe has used the U.S. dollar since 2009 to substitute its own failed money, the Zimbabwe dollar. It also uses the South African rand, the euro, and the Chinese yuan, alongside the dollar. However, because Zimbabwe has run a trade deficit for several years, importing more than it exports, the country is literally running out of paper money.

In 2015, for example, it imported $5.5 billion in goods and only exported $2.5 billion. (The country’s economic problems are so bad it even had to sell off some of its wildlife.) That $3 billion trade deficit means the country’s supply of physical dollars continues to decrease. Zimbabweans can’t withdraw money from the bank because there isn’t enough of it—and banks have limited withdrawals at some ATMs.

To combat the shortage, Zimbabwe’s central bank will design and circulate new two-, five-, 10-, and 20-dollar “bond notes” that will be worth the equivalent of the U.S. dollar, but won’t actually be certified American currency.

Those notes won’t be worthless, however. Zimbabwe’s version of the dollar will be backed by $200 million in support from the African Export-Import Bank, a Cairo-based institution that promotes trade within the continent. Zimbabwe, then, will produce $200 million worth of new bills.

Among other measures announced this week to address the monetary problems: Officials have limited the amount of money that people can take out of the country to $1,000; and the central bank will convert 40 percent of all bank deposits that come from exports to the South African rand, and an additional 10 percent to euros.

The dollar is used as the official currency in other countries, as well. El Salvador, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba—all use the dollar as their official currency.

Other countries have also adopted the dollar as their currency, but issued their own coins that are valued the same as American dimes, quarters, or nickels. Panama, East Timor, and Ecuador use American paper money, alongside their own individual coins. Similarly, since 2014, Zimbabwe has designed and circulated one-, five-, 10-, and 25-cent “bond coins” that are set to the value of the U.S. dollar. The coins bear little resemblance to their American counterparts. Zimbabwe’s new paper money will be made in the same vein.

Zimbabwe made the switch to the U.S. dollar in 2009 after its currency virtually had no value from over-printing and its economy collapsed following policies instituted by the government of longtime President Robert Mugabe. During that period, Zimbabwe produced 100-trillion-dollar notes. It got so bad that by the end of 2008, the inflation rate was 79.6 billion percent. By then, 1 U.S. dollar equated to 2.6 decillion (1033) Zimbabwean dollars.

Seven years later, the country isn’t facing hyperinflation, where there’s too much currency, but deflation, as there’s not enough physical cash around.

“It’s an indication of the lack of confidence in the Zimbabwean Central Bank,” says Russell Green, an international economics fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institution. “They want to print their own money, but they know that they’ve gotten in trouble in the past printing their own money.”

The absorption of the U.S. dollar as a country’s own currency, or even the attachment of its currency rate to the dollar, has previously proved perilous to other countries. Argentina’s peso had a fixed exchange rate to the U.S. dollar, and for a decade every one peso was equivalent to one dollar. However, after an economic depression that lasted from 1998 to 2002, which led to the fall of the government and a $95 billion default on its foreign debt, Argentina dropped the fixed exchange rate. Argentina’s central bank ran out of money during that time.

“The problem that all of these countries have, whether it’s with a complete dollarization or with a pegged currency, is if they’re running persistent trade deficits, eventually you run out of the foreign currency,” Green says. “That’s unfortunately Zimbabwe’s case.”

Keeping the dollar may not be a worthwhile option for Zimbabwe moving forward if it continues to need to print more money with the support of outside institutions. It may even have to go back to its old currency—a move many Zimbabweans fear.

Adapted from theatlantic.


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  1. I believe that the author was stating whether or not Zimbabwe should keep their currency or not. He’s in favor of keeping the US dollar as their currency and supports it with historical events.


    1. He’s not in favor of them keeping the dollar as the currency: “The absorption of the U.S. dollar as a country’s own currency, or even the attachment of its currency rate to the dollar, has previously proved perilous to other countries.”

      He’s saying that even though they are moving toward american currency due to the lack of physical money supply due to the trade deficit, that it won’t necessarily be a safe move.


  2. MIP: trade deficits lead to deflation of Zimbabean $ + US currency option = not beneficial


  3. Zims running out of money and decide to make new currency based on the US dollar, but even that plan may not prove beneficial.


  4. Trade deficits in Zimbabwe are due to currency issues after the accepting of the Dollar -> a deflation of currency due to lack of printing. Many citizens fear to return back to the old currency due to overinflation/overproduction issues, but the author proposes at the end of the passage that it might be the best bet to fixing the problem


  5. The Author suggests that the hyperinflation occurring in Zimbabwe is also due to “pegged money” overprinting which was the result of the trade deficits.


  6. Zimbabwe is moving towards creating a currency to mimic the American dollar, as well as having moves to improve the economy. This is a tough situation due to the fact that they import much more than they export. In the past, so much money was printed to hyper inflate money significantly. Now, there is not enough physical currency.

    Tone sounds almost skeptical of the move.


  7. Zimbabwe needs money, keeping US dollar bad


  8. Zimbabwe uses US dollars and its own money, because of its large trade deficit.
    Can work, will not work eventually, if running persistent trade deficits.


  9. Zimbabwe is having a currency crisis so it must use other currencies instead of it’s own because of the overprinting of currency in 2009 because of this problem it faced before Zimbabwe citizens are not willing to go back to their own currency. Even though they are facing a low export crisis that is reducing the physical money they have in Zimbabwe. Using American Dollars as a substitution shows the lack of confidence Zimbabwe has of it’s own banking system as it faces a difficult path to find a solution to this crisis.


  10. MI: Due to trade deficits, Zimbabwe is out of paper money and likely to start printing the US dollar from its banks. It will be backed by the African Export-Import Bank. Zimbabwe has been using currency from other countries already, much like other counties. The cause of this problem was the overprinting of their own currency.


  11. In order to deal with the country’s lack of currency, due to a trade deficit, Zimbabwe is using the U.S dollar in the form of bonds in their own country. This may not be successful as it has caused many issues in the past


  12. MIP: Zimbabwe economy is in danger to due a trade deficit causing them to literally run out of money. The solution was to convert to a new currency, the U.S. dollar, but problems have risen with that switch such as inflation.


  13. MIP: Zimbabwe is running out of money because their imports are greater than their exports. Zimbabwe may need to abandon their multi currency system and peg their currency to the US dollar or go back to their old currency which many Zimbabweans fear.


  14. zim=decrease in American money and bad economics, need to switch to pegged money, but pegged money has not been successful before.


  15. Zimbawae = money deflation, US dollar currency switch ≠ worthwhile, may need to switch back to old local currency = feared


  16. Zimbabwe = low money, b/c imports > exports
    now: $ = US currency, but fear exists in local currency, which is the best interest of author


  17. Zimbabwe currently has a currency problem from lack of money in circulation (deflation), so they want to attach their currency to the US dollar. Author believes this is a bad idea-especially in the long run.


  18. Zimbabwe (Z) is facing currency issues of deflation, or a lack of monies available. This is a common problem with countries that rely on trade with foreign countries, as they soon run out of foreign currency and are dependent on maintaining equilibrium between imports and exports. In the past, Z had problems with inflation, which may be the reason why the Z Central Bank is currently hesitant of their next steps. It’s possible they may stop relying on multi- or foreign currency and return to a local currency, an action many Z natives fear.


  19. Using U.S. dollar as a country’s own currency = perilous to other countries (ex Zimbabwe).


  20. zimbabe is experiencing hyper inflation. to tackle the problem, it started using dollar but this does not look like a feasible solution


  21. Printing Zimbabwe Dollar is likely to be a bad idea as they have experienced a large trade deficit,


  22. Z = need to print money, but will run out of money as long as there are trade deficits.


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