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Is hyperinflation coming back to Zimbabwe?

However, Mutasa Dzinotizei, who heads the Zimstats statistics agency, dismissed the alternative calculations.

His organisation’s methodology, based on domestic dollars taken at face value, was sound, he told Reuters.

“Inflation is reflected at the retail end of the market. We don’t go to the stock exchange or look at the exchange rate. I have never seen it done anywhere in this world,” he said.

Aside from locally-produced staples such as maize meal and bread, prices of imported goods on Harare supermarket shelves have shot up 30-150 percent in the last two months.

Importers attribute the increases to the price of foreign exchange, which they have to buy on the black market at a premium.

Assessing the true value of US dollar balances in Harare banks, known locally as “zollars”, is difficult but on the black market they were trading at a 65 percent discount to cash this week.

Economists including Hanke have used another gauge of value from the old hyperinflation days – the Old Mutual Implied Rate – to try to measure the extent and pace of Zimbabwe’s financial collapse.

The Old Mutual rate, based on the relative values of shares in insurance firm Old Mutual in Harare and London, suggested a discount of as much as 80 percent this week after the Harare shares hit $14.29 compared with $2.44 in London.

In effect, this means $100 in a bank in Harare is actually worth less than $20.

With Zimbabweans piling into any asset they think might retain value, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin have soared.

On the local bitcoin exchange, Golix (golix.io), bitcoins were at $9 800 compared with a spot rate of $5 820.

“There is far greater demand for bitcoin in Zimbabwe than supply because people see bitcoin as a store of value for their money in the bank,” one Harare Bitcoin trader said. –The Source

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