ANALYSIS OF THE ZIMBABWEAN HYPERINFLATION CRISIS: A SEARCH FOR POLICY SOLUTIONS

Open Access
Author:
Conkling, Thomas Stoddard
Area of Honors:
Economics
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Shapiro, Thesis Supervisor
  • Edward Coulson, Faculty Reader
  • David Shapiro, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • inflation
  • zimbabwe
  • monetary policy
Abstract:
Zimbabwe’s current struggles embody the worst outcomes of economic mismanagement. Hyperinflation has reached some of the highest levels ever seen, leading to falling standards of living and total disruption of the marketplace. There is much arguing about the cause and blame for the nation’s downturn, but most importantly there is a need for solutions. The hyperinflationary theory developed earlier in the 20th century aptly describes the causes of Zimbabwe’s problems at fundamental level, with money creation serving as the primary driver. More recent research details how countries with high inflation have stabilized their currencies, though their inflation is of lower magnitude than Zimbabwe’s. Both qualitatively and quantitatively, Zimbabwe’s lead-up to hyperinflation fits the mold of a modern high inflation incident, while its climax recalls the most severe WWI-era cases. Zimbabwe’s unique political situation also complicates the process of economic stabilization. President Mugabe’s regime is nearly immune to external pressure, so any change in policy will have to come from within his party, or from a rival organization that manages to gain power. Numerous researchers have presented plans for recovery once a willing government is in place, but that is a great hurdle to clear. In the near future, it is likely that foreign currencies will play an increasing role in the Zimbabwean marketplace. As the Zimbabwean dollar is gradually replaced for daily transactions, the harsh effects of hyperinflation will be mitigated. Whether the Zimbabwean dollar is officially replaced or made obsolete by dollarization, it seems unlikely that Zimbabweans will embrace their national currency again. Given the more devastating downturn of the real economy, it is unlikely that Zimbabwe can make as quick of a recovery as its hyperinflationary ancestors of the early 20th century. On the other hand, it seems quite possible for Zimbabwe to begin its recovery as quickly as those nations. Zimbabwe has dug itself a deep hole, but with proper leadership, it could once again become an economic power of the African continent.