Zimbabwe begins issuing new notes to help ease cash crunch

With prices in Zimbabwe rising faster than at any point in a decade amid rapid devaluation of the local currency, cash is king. (AP)
Updated 12 November 2019

Zimbabwe begins issuing new notes to help ease cash crunch

  • New notes the latest currency reform in the troubled southern African country’s constantly changing monetary framework
  • Zimbabwe now has the world’s second highest inflation after Venezuela, according to IMF figures

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwean banks on Tuesday began issuing new notes and coins aimed at easing severe cash shortages, but they are severely limiting the amounts that people can withdraw.
“What can I do with such a pittance?” asked Shorai Tomu after withdrawing the equivalent of about $5. “It can only buy five loaves of bread.”
The new notes are the latest currency reform in the troubled southern African country’s constantly changing, and at times confusing, monetary framework.
Zimbabwe now has the world’s second highest inflation after Venezuela, according to International Monetary Fund figures. With prices rising faster than at any point in a decade amid rapid devaluation of the local currency, cash is king.
In 2009, Zimbabwe’s government abandoned the local currency amid hyperinflation and adopted a multi-currency system dominated by the dollar. In June the government outlawed the use of foreign currencies, opting for a local currency mainly consisting of electronic and mobile money and a trickle of bank notes.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has struggled to fulfill promises to improve the economy two years after taking office following the resignation of the late Robert Mugabe.
Many retailers and service providers now demand payments in cash only. Others, including street vendors, charge a higher price for goods paid for using mobile money or bank cards.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says it will “drip feed” ZW$1 billion in the new small notes and coins to manage the cash shortages. The highest denomination is ZW$5. The notes are strikingly similar in design to the old ones.
“It is just like the old money, and like the old money it can’t buy anything of value,” said 81-year-old Filbert Sibanda after withdrawing his monthly pension, enough to buy a kilogram of beef.
Other customers left disgruntled.
“This is not an improvement,” said Wicknell Magidha, waving a few new notes and a plastic bag filled with coins. “These coins are just too heavy.”
People trooped out of one bank carrying similar bags of coins, shaking their heads. Others in line laughed.
Magidha said the small bills and coins leave him with another headache, that of haggling with traders who usually reject them.
“The same item can have three different prices: one for cash, one for mobile money and another one for those paying using small coins,” Magidha said. “The government should just print higher denominations to match this inflation.”


German economy stagnating despite signs of industrial rebound

Updated 7 min 12 sec ago

German economy stagnating despite signs of industrial rebound

  • Indicators at the start of the fourth quarter point to subdued private consumption even though disposable incomes continue to rise
  • Bundesbank says households’ real disposable income fell due to a slowdown in employment growth

BERLIN: The German economy is more or less stagnating, the economy ministry said on Monday, adding there are initial signs that an industrial recession could be coming to an end as orders stabilize.
The ministry also said in its monthly report that indicators at the start of the fourth quarter pointed to subdued private consumption even though disposable incomes continued to rise.
Consumption has helped keep Europe’s biggest economy humming by compensating for weak exports. Trade tensions this year pushed the German manufacturing sector into a recession but the overall economy narrowly escaped the same fate.
“Industrial production has probably not reached the trough,” the ministry said. “But orders and sales have stabilized at a low level. This suggests that industry has gradually stabilized and could pick up slightly in the New Year.”
There are fears that should the manufacturing sector continue to shrink; the slowdown could spread to an otherwise resilient services sector.
IHS Markit’s flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December on Monday confirmed the diverging trends: manufacturing activity slipped and services rose.
Markit said the rate of decline in new orders and exports was stabilizing, giving hope for the manufacturing sector.
The German central bank said last week that Germany faced another sluggish year despite a likely rebound in exports as households see their spending power shrink. The Bundesbank said households’ real disposable income fell due to a slowdown in employment growth.
It trimmed its growth forecast for this year to 0.5 percent and halved its prediction for 2020 to 0.6 percent.
In another grim sign for the economy, the BGA trade association said on Monday that wholesalers planned to cut investments and their tendency to hire new staff had decreased despite expectations that their nominal revenue will rise by 2.3 percent to €1.3 billion this year.