Ever since the Federal Reserve started its quantitative easing program in response to the 2008 financial crisis, we’ve been hearing dire warnings about the threat of hyperinflation. Those warnings, it goes without saying, have not come to pass. In fact, if you want to look at what actual hyperinflation looks like, you should check out what’s going on in Zimbabwe, where citizens next week are going to start trading in their government’s own near-worthless currency for American dollars.
What do we mean when we say by “near-worthless?” Consider that trading in 175 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars — yes, that’s 175,000,000,000,000,000 dollars — will net you a grand total of USD$5. Which just happens to be enough to buy one Five-Dollar Footlong at Subway, although if there’s tax added you’ll have to scrounge up some a few extra quadrillions of Zimbabwean dollars to pay that off.
“From Monday, customers who held Zimbabwean dollar accounts before March 2009 can approach their banks to convert their Zimbabwean dollar balance into dollars,” Reuters, via Yahoo News, reports. “Bank accounts with balances of up to 175 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars will be paid $5. Those with balances above 175 quadrillion dollars will be paid at an exchange rate of $1 to 35 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars.”