Thursday, May 10, 2007

Griffiths, hyperinflation and Zimbabwe

The Nation of Shopkeepers thinks that I may have been a little harsh on Jane Griffiths (on the grounds that she is so obviously "special"), although Harry does point out that central planning is... well... shit.
However, during the course of the evening she did describe herself as a ‘un-reconstructed Stalinist’, which I assume was a ‘joke’*; and went on to make a case for central planning (which I assume wasn’t).

Just to help her understand why I think the Devil has swearblogged her so thoroughly, I offer this gem, which contains the following;
The monthly rate of inflation rose to 2,200% in March, the highest in the world.

Mmmm, electricity rationing and inflation out of control. Now, we had a touch of that here once, you know. Now, when was it, er, let me think.

Oh yes. It was the last time this country indulged itself in socialist central planning.

The quote, of course, comes from a recent assessment of the state of Zimbabwe, once known as the "breadbasket of Africa". No more, it seems.
Households in Zimbabwe are to be limited to four hours power supply a day in the latest setback to hit the country's struggling economy.

The measure, meaning electricity will only be available in homes between 1700 and 2100 local time, is likely to come into force immediately.

The move is designed to support the country's wheat farmers who need power to irrigate their crops.

Rampant inflation has led to widespread shortages of fuel and food.

The monthly rate of inflation rose to 2,200% in March, the highest in the world.

Fucking hellski, what a mess. Although, whilst researching hyperinflation to see if Zimbabwe's inflation was the higher than that under the German Weimar Republic, I was dumbfounded to find that it's not even close.

Here's a couple of choice examples. [Emphasis mine.]
Greece went through its worst inflation in 1944... The overall impact of hyperinflation: 1 (1953) drachma = 50,000,000,000,000 pre 1944 drachmai. The Greek inflation rate reached 8.5 billion percent.

Hungary went through the worst inflation in modern history in 1945-46... The rate of inflation was 4.19 quintillion percent. A special currency the adópengő - or tax pengő - was created for tax and postal payments [2]. The value of the adópengő was adjusted each day, by radio announcement. On January 1, 1946 one adópengő equaled one pengő. By late July, one adópengő equaled 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 2×1021pengő.

Truly staggering; these kind of figures dwarf Zimbabwe's, still shocking, inflation figures in the same way that Zimbabwe's inflation dwarfs anything that we have had in Britain (as far as I am aware).

Anyway, back to the Beeb.
Critics accuse President Robert Mugabe of presiding over the destruction of the country's economy and society in an effort to hold onto power.

But the government says Zimbabwe's economic problems are primarily due to foreign sanctions.

But the foreign sanctions are in place because of Mugabe's refusal to let go of power; I'm afraid that, even were the current problems not almost entirely of Mugabe's making anyway, he would still be responsible.
Power cuts have become a regular occurrence in Zimbabwe, where a shortage of foreign currency has prevented investment in the country's creaking infrastructure.

Key industries such as mining have been affected, putting further strain on the economy.

Earlier in the article, Zimbabwe is described as having a "struggling economy"; is it just me, or is that a strong contender for Understatement of the Year?

* I fear not.


C4' said...

I totally agree with you DK about Antonia Bance. I had the misfortune of meeting her partner at university, Jo Salmon.

Jo Salmon's record of infamy include publicy praising Adolf Hitler's employment policies in the bar of the students union (I can provide eyewitness) and at a public meeting proclaimmed that "men don't need political representation".

Anonymous said...

"But the longer period will drive prices for firewood and candles up and these items are already quite expensive." Saddo that I am, I can remember the last run on candles in the UK. Any time an economy starts inflating the prices of things which were plentiful, cheap and underpinned civil society under Elizabeth the First, never mind ERII, it means you no longer have to look at the figures because they've stopped meaning anything and the leadership has lost the plot. I don't know why people don't understand this; presumably they didn't catch enough of a scare during the petrol stoppages a few years back. Even the greenies should understand this. Candles and firewood are stores of energy which you use when not in an advanced oil-based enconomy. Like when you go camping. If you have to rely on those, it means you are going back in time, which is alright for a bit of a laugh but you wouldn't want to do microsurgery by candlelight or have a dentist pedalling his drill like mad. If you can't even supply firewood it means you are worse off than in the stone age as even they managed a bit of a bonfire on demand. If nobody else is in the same bother, it means you've mucked up and its your own fault. Only a bloody great war which is not of your making is any excuse for a lack of affordable candles.

Kit said...

An old teacher of mine lived in Germany before WWII. He told us the usual practice was to pay for your coffee before you drank it; as it was unlikely you could afford it by the time you finished.

jane said...

you're right about Zimbabwe. Let's go in there and tell Mugabe we can make this easy or we can make it very very difficult. Pension him off, with his family and entourage, and let's have proper elections.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I think that one of the problems about Iraq is that the British people are going to be extremely wary of any kind of intervention.

I fear that there is little that we can do right now. And the African Congress will do little.


Trixy said...

C4 - is Salmon the one who can't clap properly?

Jane - why should Mugabe get 'pensioned off'. Did he offer those options to his opposition? I don't think so.

DK - agree with you about intervention. The disaster that is the Iraq reconstruction (I don't think we can say that the war was a failure, when it quite clearly wasn't because we won) may have resulted in the unfortunate situation that when intervention is genuinely needed, the British can't help.

Anonymous said...

We should not interfere with Zimbabwe's internal affairs. They wanted Smith out and they got what they wanted.

Guido Faux said...

The central bank of Zimbabwe recently declared inflation illegal, so everything will be OK then.

Or maybe not. My economic outlook for Zimbabwe is deflation in weights and measures ...

C4' said...

C4 - is Salmon the one who can't clap properly?

I'm not sure!

A rubbish fairytale

Inspired by this photo, delivered to your humble Devil's Facebook timeline... And the government of 500 million of those 8 billion pe...