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The way forward for the Zimbabwean economy

Mar 14 2017 05:02
Edward C D Ingram


Zimbabwe needs to borrow money. This is a regular topic now. What a shame. There is no need to borrow. There is a need to get off this roundabout. It can destroy the Zimbabwean economy.

When the government borrows, it issues government stock - bonds/treasuries; there are various names given for this.

Doing that changes the shape of the savings industry and takes money out of circulation - which is the intention. The intention is to enlarge the government sector and reduce private sector spending. It also crowds out the means for businesses to borrow by using the same method - so investment in business suffers.

The standard alternative for expanding the government sector is for the central bank to create more money for government to spend, and to raise taxes to mop up the extra money coming into circulation.

ZIMBABWE'S REAL PROBLEM is that the government cannot create US dollars to spend. It does not have its own currency.

When a nation has its own currency, it has to behave itself by not creating too much of it. But without its own currency a nation can actually go bankrupt. It has to buy or borrow all of the money it spends - and pay interest.


A government can make just as much mess from doing that as it can by having its own currency and creating hyper-inflation.

It is a question of which kind of mess you want.

1. A slow downwards spiral as people spend hours queuing to get the spending money they need and with a currency value which can ruin businesses and does not serve its purpose


2. A high level of inflation which does all kinds of damage.


Either way, to resolve this problem the government first has to decide how big a spender it needs to be.

Once that is decided, it can create all the money it needs to spend.

Then it can ensure that the private sector has enough money to spend.

This is what should happen.

There is no way to avoid deciding how big a spender the government needs to be. That comes first.


Check this out.

FIG  1 - An imaginary economy where everyone puts everyone else to work

All incomes spent            on all outputs              provide all incomes (and full employment)

There are two ways for money to be created and which can enable additional spending to fill the gap when not all of everyone's income gets spent:

1. The banks can create money and lend it. Zimbabwe's banks need lower interest rates to do that.*

2. The government can create money and give it to the people to spend. This is what the Positive Money group in the UK is shouting about. It makes sense.

But they need to understand a few more things before that will work as they hope it will.*

* There is no space to go into all that. Maybe next time...

Edward C D Ingram is the founder of the Ingram School of Economics, a school which is growing in influence. He is also provider of the world's first ever certified course in the subject, starting in May 2017, at NUST's Centre for Continuing Education under the title Macro-economic Design and Management. Contact him on Skype at edwarding2.

edward ingram  |  macro-economics  |  opinion


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