Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Whip Inflation Now, Mugabe Style

Any guess what the inflation rate in the once paradisiacal country of Zimbabwe was last month? 100%? 1,000%? 10,000%? I'll have the probable answer in a minute.

It's anyone's guess, really, as the Times of London reports:

Zimbabwe can no longer calculate the rate of inflation because there are not enough goods left in the shops to allow price comparisons, the Central Statistical Office claimed yesterday.

Moffat Nyoni, the Director of the CSO, said that it had been impossible to compile reliable data for the past month because of “the unavailability of required information such as prices of goods, due to their shortage on the formal market”.

Robert Mugabe's single-handed destruction of the former Rhodesia now appears to be nearly complete. Of course we've said that before, only to find that the inventive despot can find new ways to make things worse. He has won the record as the world's current foremost example of why countries and markets should be free.

The inflation rate? Well, figures leaked to the paper peg it at 14,840%, up from 8,000% last month -- this as the Carteresque Mugabe assures his countrymen nation of prisoners that his government is whipping inflation. At least that's what he says when he's not whipping the businessmen who refuse to go along with his solution to inflation: Forcing retail price drops below the cost of goods.

And you wonder why they can't find enough goods on the shelves to get a reading of what the inflation rate is?

Mugabe takes not one whit of blame for this mess, blaming inflation instead on a conspiracy of Zimbabwe's battered business community and the African version of the bogeyman -- "Western governments" -- who are conspiring to create economic chaos, forcing Mugabe from office.

That's not a bad idea, actually, and I hope the CIA Africa desk at Langely is elbows deep in such a conspiracy ... if indeed anyone but a nation's leadership can manufacture inflation. I think that would be tough because inflation is, in one sense, a measure of a populace's faith in its government; the higher the inflation, the lower the trust.

The solution, then, appears obvious: Change the government.

Of course we've said that before, too, only to find that the inventive despot can find new ways to hang onto power.

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