Steve Hanke is mainly known in the world of international economics for his conviction that dollarization is the cure for all ills. (How’s that working out, Steve?) But he’s come up with something really rather fabulous for the Cato Institute: the Hanke Hyperinflation Index for Zimbabwe, which puts that country’s inflation at 89.7 Sextillion Percent. (You know what a sextillion is, right? It goes thousand, million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion. Each one is three orders of magnitude greater than the last.)
Says Josh, noting that under 89.7 sextillion percent inflation, prices double only every 5.25 days:
The rate is accelerating, though – if you look at the weekly data for the last two weeks, prices have doubled about every 22 hours. (Side note: you’d think that a doubling every 24 hours would be a nice round level for inflation to plateau at, and you’d be pretty much right – it’s stalled there for nearly a month now.
It’s worth spelling this out in full, because I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to talk about numbers this big very often on this blog: Zimbabwe’s inflation right now is somewhere north of 89,700,000,000,000,000,000,000%. At this rate, it might eventually reach 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000%, or one octillion. Which is not, of course, to be confused with a postillion. The question of what happens when an octillion is struck by lightning is left as an exercise for the reader.
Update: What was I thinking? An octillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000%, not 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000%. Zimbabwe hasn’t been struck by that particular lightning yet.