Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University who has often clashed with the government of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa over his inflation and exchange rate estimations, said on January 16 that the southern African nation’s currency has depreciated 92% against the US dollar since January 1, 2023.

He argued that one needs 12,500 Zimbabwe dollars to buy one greenback.  This makes the unit the globe’s weakest. The Argentine peso is a distant second at 1,120 to the greenback having shed 69% of its value since January 1, 2023.

Hanke estimated Zimbabwe’s annual inflation at 1,072% with Argentina’s in second place at 220% followed by Syria’s at 121%.

His estimates are in sharp contrast with official figures. The Zimbabwean central bank said on its website at 12:42p.m. on January 18 that one greenback was worth 8,890 Zimbabwe dollars. It put the nation’s annual inflation for December 2023, which is the latest available rate, at 25.52%.

Zimbabwean journalist and political activist Hopewell Chin’ono posted on X (formerly Twitter) on January 17 that locals have lost confidence in the ability of the government to run the economy effectively. He argued that many of them bank their money abroad or simply stash it “under the pillow” in fear of “institutional corruption.”  The country, Chin’ono added, is the riskiest investment destination on the continent, risker than some nations at war.

“We can’t run away from the fact that economic indicators such as inflation rates and currency strength or weakness are critical reflections of a country’s economic performance,” said Chin’ono. “So naturally the economic challenges faced by Zimbabwe as reflected in the weakening currency and high inflation indicate deep underlying economic issues…” 

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