Sunday, January 25, 2009

Zimbabwe - Numbers You Do Not See Often

Another update in Zimbabwe's saga of suffering. Quote: "To get a true sense of the economic problems facing Zimbabweans Professor Steve Hanke from the CATO Institute developed a hyperinflation index that puts the annual inflation rate at around 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent - that is 65 followed by 107 zeros. He noted that prices of basic goods double every 24.7 hours, and this is the reason why shops are refusing to accept Zimbabwean dollars."

This is not a typo, the math actually works: 2^(365/(24.7/24))=5.7817E106.

As I said
here, Mugabe needs to pay an elite list of his supporters in foreign currency, but there is not enough of it to pay every ZANU-PF thug. If you - the dictator - do not pay your constituencies, you get unrest. Quote: "Last year saw a number of unprecedented riots involving soldiers, who looted shops and attacked foreign currency dealers after not being able to access their money from cash strapped banks. The past few weeks have seen more spontaneous protests across the country by angry and impatient soldiers, raisings fears of a possible mutiny." Oops. Another quote: "...a separate uniformed gang ... raided a farm belonging to Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and forced farm workers to load their truck with chickens." Oops again. Have the chicken come home to roost?

So what will Mugabe do to get to the diamonds the needs to stay afloat for just a little longer? Try shooting to death of villages from helicopter gunships and torture, including rape and abduction, on a 'massive' scale. I must admit that I have some doubts about the veracity of the gunship claim, since gunships are expensive to obtain and maintain. For the price of one gunship, which I estimate at ballpark $20mln, you can equip 5,000 soldiers with $150/pop AK-47's, and pay them $100/month for 3 years, with enough left for ammunition. There is no need to substitute capital for labor when labor is this cheap, and many fewer than 5,000 soldiers can wipe out an unarmed village without firing a single shot - machetes and fire do just fine.

I re-iterate my call for weapons drops in Zimbabwe, plus potentially a bounty on a few leaders (instead of the hilarious travel restrictions against them in place).

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