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Zimbabwe: CASH as souvenirs

On the online auction site eBay, a 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note is a collector’s item fetching up to U.S. $35, a small fortune compared with the U.S. 40 cents offered by the country’s central bank as it seeks to officially bury the worthless currency.

The unloved Zimbabwean dollar, ravaged by hyperinflation that peaked at 500 billion percent in 2008, ceased to be legal tender in mid-2014 when the southern African country switched to the U.S. dollar.

Few people, however, have been bringing their quadrillions of local dollars to Zimbabwe’s banks to cash in old notes — especially since they could get a better deal elsewhere.

“I would rather sell the money to tourists,” said former currency trader Shadreck Gutuza. “Most people either burned that money or dumped it.”

Online, one seller was offering a hundred 50 trillion Zimbabwean dollar notes for U.S. $1,000.

Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation was considered by the International Monetary Fund as the worst for any country not at war, and the 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note was the single largest known note to be printed by any central bank.

Tourists are known to pay U.S. $20 for a single note in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The government set aside U.S. $20 million to mop up Zimbabwean dollar notes. Citizens with bank accounts with balances of up to 175 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars — that’s 175,000,000,000,000,000 — are being paid U.S. $5. Those with higher balances are getting a rate of 1 to 35 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars.  Reuters

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