Zimbabwe: What 200,000% Inflation Means in Real Terms

| Thu Mar. 27, 2008 1:56 PM EDT

robert-mugabe.jpg Zimbabwe goes to the polls Saturday to see if it can manage to democratically oust 28-year despot Robert Mugabe. I say "manage" because Mugabe can't win a fair election, but he can rig it so that he wins, as he is widely suspected of having done in the past. Opposition candidate Simba Makoni presents a stronger challenge than any Mugabe has seen recently, but suspicions about the election have already been raised.

What makes Zimbabwe unique among the world's failed states is its inflation: a historic 200,000 percent. Here's what that means in real life, from Somewhere in Africa, via Andrew Sullivan:

To understand what 200,000 percent inflation means, a journalist friend I was traveling with, N., said that on Friday, he had lunch at a hotel in Harare , where a local beer cost 2 million Zimbabwean dollars (less than $1). He passed by the hotel after work the same day and the same beer was going for more than 4 million.

Earlier this month, the AP reported that $1US was worth 25,000,000 Zimbabwe dollars.

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