Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
Why You Shouldn’t Get Excited About Gold Price Mini-Rally - 26th Jan 21
The Truth About Personal Savings Everybody Should Know and Think About - 26th Jan 21
4 Economic Challenges for 2021 - 26th Jan 21
Scan Computers 2021 "Awaiting Picking" - 5950x RTX 3080 Custom PC Build Stock Status - 26th Jan 21
The End of the World History Stock Market Chart : Big Pattern = Big Move - 26th Jan 21
Stock Market Recent Sector Triggers Suggest Stocks May Enter Rally Phase - 26th Jan 21
3 Top-Performing Tech Stocks for 2021 - 26th Jan 21
5 Tips to Manage Your Debt - 26th Jan 21
Stock Market Intermediate Trend Intact - 25th Jan 21
Precious Metals Could Decline Before their Next Attempt to Rally - 25th Jan 21
Great Ways of Choosing Good CMMS Software for a Business - 25th Jan 21
The Dark Forces behind American Insurrectionists - 25th Jan 21
Economic Stimulus Doesn’t Always Stimulate – Pushing On A String - 25th Jan 21
Can Karcher K7 Pressure Washer Clean a Weed Infested Driveway? Extreme Power Test - 25th Jan 21
Lockdown Sea Shanty Craze - "Drunken Sailor" on the Pirate Falls Crazy Boat Ride - 25th Jan 21
Intel Empire Fights Back with Rocket and Alder Lake! - 24th Jan 21
4 Reasons for Coronavirus 2021 Hope - 24th Jan 21
Apple M1 Chip Another Nail in Intel's Coffin - Top AI Tech Stocks 2021 - 24th Jan 21
Stock Market: Why You Should Prepare for a Jump in Volatility - 24th Jan 21
What’s next for Bitcoin Price – $56k or $16k? - 24th Jan 21
How Does Credit Repair Work? - 24th Jan 21
Silver Price 2021 Roadmap - 22nd Jan 21
Why Biden Wants to Win the Fight for $15 Federal Minimum Wage - 22nd Jan 21
Here’s Why Gold Recently Moved Up - 22nd Jan 21
US Dollar Decline creates New Sector Opportunities to Trade - 22nd Jan 21
Sandisk Extreme Micro SDXC Memory Card Read Write Speed Test Actual vs Sales Pitch - 22nd Jan 21
NHS Recommends Oximeter Oxygen Sensor Monitors for Everyone 10 Months Late! - 22nd Jan 21
DoorDash Has All the Makings of the “Next Amazon” - 22nd Jan 21
How to Survive a Silver-Gold Sucker Punch - 22nd Jan 21
2021: The Year of the Gripping Hand - 22nd Jan 21
Technology Minerals appoints ex-BP Petrochemicals CEO as Advisor - 22nd Jan 21
Gold Price Drops Amid Stimulus and Poor Data - 21st Jan 21
Protecting the Vulnerable 2021 - 21st Jan 21
How To Play The Next Stage Of The Marijuana Boom - 21st Jan 21
UK Schools Lockdown 2021 Covid Education Crisis - Home Learning Routine - 21st Jan 21
General Artificial Intelligence Was BORN in 2020! GPT-3, Deep Mind - 20th Jan 21
Bitcoin Price Crash: FCA Warning Was a Slap in the Face. But Not the Cause - 20th Jan 21
US Coronavirus Pandemic 2021 - We’re Going to Need More Than a Vaccine - 20th Jan 21
The Biggest Biotech Story Of 2021? - 20th Jan 21
Biden Bailout, Democrat Takeover to Drive Americans into Gold - 20th Jan 21
Pandemic 2020 Is Gone! Will 2021 Be Better for Gold? - 20th Jan 21
Trump and Coronavirus Pandemic Final US Catastrophe 2021 - 19th Jan 21
How To Find Market Momentum Trades for Explosive Gains - 19th Jan 21
Cryptos: 5 Simple Strategies to Catch the Next Opportunity - 19th Jan 21
Who Will NEXT Be Removed from the Internet? - 19th Jan 21
This Small Company Could Revolutionize The Trillion-Dollar Drug Sector - 19th Jan 21
Gold/SPX Ratio and the Gold Stock Case - 18th Jan 21
More Stock Market Speculative Signs, Energy Rebound, Commodities Breakout - 18th Jan 21
Higher Yields Hit Gold Price, But for How Long? - 18th Jan 21
Some Basic Facts About Forex Trading - 18th Jan 21
Custom Build PC 2021 - Ryzen 5950x, RTX 3080, 64gb DDR4 Specs - Scan Computers 3SX Order Day 11 - 17th Jan 21
UK Car MOT Covid-19 Lockdown Extension 2021 - 17th Jan 21
Why Nvidia Is My “Slam Dunk” Stock Investment for the Decade - 16th Jan 21
Three Financial Markets Price Drivers in a Globalized World - 16th Jan 21
Sheffield Turns Coronavirus Tide, Covid-19 Infections Half Rest of England, implies Fast Pandemic Recovery - 16th Jan 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

Zimbabwe Introduces A New Currency For Maxi-Devaluation

Currencies / Fiat Currency Mar 03, 2019 - 05:54 PM GMT

By: Steve_H_Hanke

Currencies

Until February 20th, Zimbabwe produced a quasi-currency. It was dubbed a “Zollar.” On the 20th, the quasi-currency became Zimbabwe’s official currency. This new currency is called RTGS dollars and consists of bond notes and RTGS (electronic money).

The RTGS dollars possess legal tender status and will serve as the unit of account for the government’s books. The official exchange rate for Zollar quasi-currency had been set at a one-to-one rate with the U.S. dollar. But now, the RTGS dollar will trade at a managed floating exchange rate. The rate today is 2.50 per U.S. dollar, not par, as it used to be. So, Zimbabwe’s official exchange rate has experienced a maxi-devaluation of 60%.


That, however, is not the end of Zimbabwe’s exchange-rate story. Zimbabwe imposes a plethora of exchange and capital controls on its citizens. Under these exchange controls, private individuals, traders, and companies must seek permission from the government to buy, sell, and hold foreign currencies. So, neither the old Zollar nor the new RTGS dollar is freely convertible into a foreign currency. In consequence, a black-market (read: free market) exists. Indeed, whenever there are exchange controls and restrictions on free convertibility, black markets always appear. At present, the black-market rate is 5.75, which represents a considerable premium over the official rate of 2.50 RTGS$/USD.

The black-market usually yields a premium over the official rate, as it does Zimbabwe. In some cases, the premiums can reach staggering levels. For example, in 1982, Ghana’s cedi carried a premium of over 2,000%. These premiums are known as black-market premiums.

The black-market premium indicates, among other things, the severity of the controls and restrictions a country imposes on its citizens. In the case of Zimbabwe, the official currency devaluation caused the black-market premium to shrink from 456% to 130%, as the official rate moved from 1 RTGS$/USD to 2.50. So, as of now, the markets deem that the introduction of the new currency and the maxi-devaluation have reduced the severity of controls that drive a wedge between the official and black-market exchange rate. Moreover, since the black-market premium on foreign exchange is an implicit tax on exports, the reduction in the premium means that the export tax resulting from exchange controls has been reduced.

The chart below contains 22 countries that have black markets in foreign exchange and for which data are available. North Korea tops the list with a black-market premium of 811%. This suggests that controls are severe and that an official devaluation will eventually be in the cards. Venezuela is at the bottom of the list, with an unusual negative black-market premium. This negative premium suggests that market participants think the bolivar will appreciate relative to the greenback, and that individuals are willing to pay a premium to obtain bolivars on the black-market.

Prof. Steve H. Hanke

Just why do countries impose restrictions and controls on foreign exchange markets and restrict free convertibility? In most cases, controls are seen as a way to cool off hot money and conserve official foreign exchange reserves.

The pedigree of exchange controls can be traced back to Plato, the father of statism. Inspired by Lycurgus of Sparta, Plato embraced the idea of an inconvertible currency as a means to preserve the autonomy of the state from outside interference.

So, the temptation to turn to exchange controls in the face of disruptions caused by hot money flows is hardly new. In the modern era, Tsar Nicholas II was the first to pioneer limitations on convertibility. In 1905, he ordered the State Bank of Russia to introduce a limited form of exchange control to discourage speculative purchases of foreign exchange. The bank did so by refusing to sell foreign exchange, except where it could be shown that it was required to buy imported goods. Otherwise, foreign exchange was limited to 50,000 German marks per person. The Tsar’s rationale for exchange controls was that of limiting hot money flows, so that foreign reserves and the exchange rate could be maintained.

As we move to reflect on Zimbabwe, or any of the other countries in the Hanke Quarterly Black Market Review, we must lift a page from Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek’s 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom:

The extent of the control over all life that economic control confers is nowhere better illustrated than in the field of foreign exchanges. Nothing would at first seem to affect private life less than a state control of the dealings in foreign exchange, and most people will regard its introduction with complete indifference. Yet the experience of most Continental countries has taught thoughtful people to regard this step as the decisive advance on the path to totalitarianism and the suppression of individual liberty. It is, in fact, the complete delivery of the individual to the tyranny of the state, the final suppression of all means of escape — not merely for the rich but for everybody.”

Hayek’s message about convertibility has regrettably been overlooked by many contemporary economists. Exchange controls are nothing more than a ring fence within which governments can expropriate their subjects’ property. Open exchange and capital markets, in fact, protect the individual from exactions, because governments must reckon with the possibility of capital flight.

From this, it follows that the imposition of exchange controls leads to an instantaneous reduction in the wealth of the country, because all assets decline in value. To see why, it is important to understand how assets are priced.

The value of any asset is the sum of the expected future installments of income it generates discounted to the present value. For example, the price of a stock represents the value to the investor now of his share of the company’s future cash flows, whether issued as dividends or reinvested. The present value of future income is calculated using an appropriate interest rate that is adjusted for the various risks that the income may not materialize.

When convertibility is restricted, risk increases, because property is held hostage and is subject to a potential ransom through expropriation. As a result, the risk-adjusted interest rate employed to value assets is higher than it would be with full convertibility. Investors are willing to pay less for each dollar of prospective income and the value of property is less than it would be with full convertibility.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has proclaimed that Zimbabwe is “open for business.” This refrain rings hollow in the face of Zimbabwe’s exchange controls and its new currency, the RTGS dollar.

If Zimbabwe wants to be open for business and wants its own sound currency, it should adopt a currency board. That would make Zimbabwe’s currency a clone of the U.S. dollar, or some other suitable anchor, such as gold. A currency board would mandate that exchange controls be thrown in the dustbin. Free convertibility would reign, and so would low inflation rates and higher asset valuations. The “open for business” sign would be the real deal.

By Steve H. Hanke

www.cato.org/people/hanke.html

Twitter: @Steve_Hanke

Steve H. Hanke is a Professor of Applied Economics and Co-Director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Prof. Hanke is also a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.; a Distinguished Professor at the Universitas Pelita Harapan in Jakarta, Indonesia; a Senior Advisor at the Renmin University of China’s International Monetary Research Institute in Beijing; a Special Counselor to the Center for Financial Stability in New York; a member of the National Bank of Kuwait’s International Advisory Board (chaired by Sir John Major); a member of the Financial Advisory Council of the United Arab Emirates; and a contributing editor at Globe Asia Magazine.

Copyright © 2019 Steve H. Hanke - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Steve H. Hanke Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules