Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Improbable" research looks at the trillion dollar basket

From the UKGuardian

The journal of improbable research usually reports on absurd things in science (for example, last week, a bra that turns into a gas mask won one of their prizes).

So this week's Improbable research column is about Zim's dollar:

Gideon Gono, author of the new book Zimbabwe's Casino Economy – Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, displays a rare, perhaps unique, kind of scholarly reserve. He is a scholar with a PhD from Atlantic International University. The US-based institution, which has mostly distance-learning courses, proclaims on its website: "Atlantic international university is not accredited by an accrediting agency recognised by the United States secretary of education." And he has reserve, or rather Reserve, with a capital "R". Since December 2003, Gono has been the governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank.

Two weeks ago, Gono was awarded the 2009 Ig Nobel prize in mathematics. The Ig Nobel citation lauds him for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers – from very small to very big – by having his bank print banknotes with denominations ranging from one cent to 100 trillion dollars.

During 2007 and 2008, Zimbabwe's inflation rate rose past Olympian heights: topping 231m%, by Gono's reckoning; and reaching 89,700,000,000tr%, according to a study done by Dr Steve H Hanke of Johns Hopkins University and the Cato Institute...

Gono modestly shares the credit, writing on the very first page: "I am especially indebted to my principal, President Robert Mugabe."...".

The book is, at heart, a 232-page literary fleshing-out of an 18-word statement issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on 21 January 2008: "Blaming the government, the Reserve Bank or the governor all the time is unacceptable and will be met with serious consequences."

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