$1 for 35,000,000,000,000,000 old dollars: Zimbabwe’s new eye-watering exchange rate

In Zimbabwe, quadrillions of local dollars are currently being exchanged for just a few US dollars, as President Mugabe’s government begins phasing out its virtually worthless national currency.

The Zimbabwean dollar has been plagued by hyperinflation for the best part of a decade. Since 2009, government and locals have almost exclusively been using the US dollar and South African rand as proxy currencies.

In a new move to phase out the failed Zimbabwean dollar, banks are encouraging citizens with account balances of up to 175 quadrillion old dollars to cash in on the dying currency and receive five US dollars in return. Anyone with a balance north of 175 quadrillion dollars can exchange their cash at an exchange rate of $1 for every 35 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars.

Hyperinflation of the Zimbabwean dollar hit 500 billion per cent in 2008. At the peak of the country’s economic crisis, Zimbabweans wishing to buy basic goods from stores – whose prices were rising at least twice per day – had to trawl plastic bags bulging with banknotes along with them.

The highest and final banknote to be printed by the national bank in 2008 was 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars – though even that was not enough to ride a public bus to work for a week.

Zimbabweans have until September to exchange their old banknotes for US dollars. In the meantime, the old Zim dollar has at least clawed back some form of value – the soon-to-be historic currency is being flogged by enterprising locals as a souvenir for visiting tourists.

Image via Drew Stephens / cc

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