"3. In 1997 the economy peaked at US$8.5 billion, exports at US$3.4 billion and employment at 1.4 million. At that stage we were: -
a. The largest exporter of tobacco in the world after the USA.
b. The sixth largest producer of gold.
c. The biggest market for South Africa in Africa.
d. The second largest economy in the region and with the third highest GDP per capita.
e. Life expectancy was about 60 years and we had a literacy rate of 85 per cent with 95 per cent of all children of school going age in school.
f. Inflation was 12 per cent.
g. The exchange rate was 12 to 1 against the US dollar.
Zimbabwe today has an economy that has shrunk by half to just over US$4 billion, exports by two thirds to US$1.4 billion. Employment has declined by 45 per cent and industry by 60 per cent. Agricultural output this year will be 70 per cent down on the level achieved in 1997. Mining output is down and falling rapidly. Tourist arrivals have fallen from over 1.2 million in 1997 to less than 300,000 this year.
Life expectancy has halved, income per capita has also declined substantially. National population has fallen from an anticipated 16 or 17 million to just over 10 million today with 4 million Zimbabweans outside the country and some 2 to 3 million incremental deaths over and above normal mortality. 60 per cent of all children are not in school and all State controlled institutions are in dire straights.
For a country not at war or under sanctions, these are the most precipitous declines in economic and social welfare ever witnessed. They represent a calamitous state of affairs with no sign of any resumption of either stability or recovery. In fact the decline has accelerated in recent months very dramatically.
The US dollar is now trading at 20 million old Zimbabwe dollars to one in the open market compared to 1 to 2 in 1980 and 12 to 1 in 1997. Nothing tells you more about the collapse in the economy than that single statistic."Let's see if Chavez can do the same for Venezuela.
hat tip: Megan McArdle