January 30, 2014
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile
Zimbabwe. You remember those guys, right?
The country’s plight with its currency became world famous, the butt of untold jokes in economic circles. At its height, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached nearly 90 sextillion in 2008.
That’s a 9 with 22 zeros.
To put it in context, if you had 90 sextillion grains of sand, you could cover the entire surface of the earth all the way to the outmost layers of the atmosphere.
Then, in April 2009, the government effectively abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar. The US dollar became the official currency for all government transactions, and US dollars, British pounds sterling, euros, and South African rand became the most widely used tender in circulation.
I’ve traveled to Zimbabwe frequently; they have some of the best stories you could ever hear about standing in line at the banks with wheelbarrows, and using stacks of paper currency at home for toilet paper or furniture.
Given that Zimbabwe is literally THE poster child for hyperinflation over the last half-century, one cannot understate the irony of their latest announcement.
Just yesterday, the government there announced that the Chinese renminbi (among other currencies) will become legal tender in Zimbabwe.
This is big news. As we have discussed so many times in the past, the current fiscal and monetary antics in the United States are absolutely no different than what Zimbabwe employed several years ago.
Zimbabwe printed its currency in nearly infinite quantities. So has the United States. The only difference is that the US dollar is readily accepted around the world thanks to good ole’ American credibility that was built by previous generations.
But that credibility is rapidly deteriorating. And everywhere you look, there are obvious signs that the rest of the world is quickly moving on from the dollar.
Central banks around the world are stocking up on gold. Major powers like China and Russia are calling for a new reserve currency. And a number of nations (Zimbabwe is the latest) have already begun to use other currencies like the renminbi for international trade and central bank reserves.
It’s happening. And it’s one of those things that will play out like what Hemingway wrote about going bankrupt: gradually, then suddenly.
The dollar’s share of global reserves has slowly fallen from roughly 75% in 2001, to just over 60% today.
But the world will eventually reach a bifurcation point where investors, foreign governments, central banks, etc. panic and start rushing for the exits.
It’s something that could happen tomorrow. Or five years from now. No one knows. But rational, intelligent people shouldn’t be waiting around for it to happen.
I very strongly recommend that you take a portion of your savings and move them into real assets– precious metals and productive land are the most obvious. But even things like collectibles or nonperishable goods (like ammunition) would be preferable to US dollars.
Then there’s other currencies that you can hold. Right now, the Norwegian krone has the strongest fundamentals in the world as it is backed by the most solvent central bank on the planet.
The Hong Kong dollar is also an interesting option because it minimizes your downside currency risk while providing protection against the US dollar’s deterioration.
(Premium members: please refer to your SMC welcome guide for actionable information about holding Hong Kong dollars and Norwegian krone.)