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Aditya Kondawar

Aditya Kondawar

Feb 28
12 tweets

The crazy story of how Cargill (A Foods and Commodity trading company) printed its own monopoly money in Zimbabwe in 1996 which got more acceptance than normal currency And when the Govt. found out, the company said we are helping you! Here’s the complete story –

1/n The Zimbabwean central bank couldn’t print new banknotes fast enough for the Zimbabwean dollar, creating a shortage of banknotes Bank lines stretched several blocks &account holders occasionally resorted to violence
2/n For Cargill, which had entered the cotton sector in Zimbabwe in 1996, this represented a serious headache Faced with the impossible task of buying cotton without banknotes, Cargill hit on a novel solution: it would simply print its own
3/n And so, it asked a local company to print 7.5 billion Zimbabwean dollars, worth about 2.2 million $ in 5000 and 10000 Zimbabwean Dollar bills. To guarantee the notes, it deposited funds at a local bank
4/n This monopoly money looked like a check carrying the logo of Cargill Cotton & the signs of 2 of its top local executives However, the bills didn’t bear the sign of the governor of the Zimbabwean central bank or the wildlife scenes that were usually on Zimbabwean banknotes
5/n They were soon being accepted alongside the country’s official currency at shops across Harare Cargill was acting as the country’s central bank by printing & issuing notes It took out adverts in a local newspaper, instructing residents banknotes should be treated as cash
6/n It issued more banknotes in 2004, with denominations as high as 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars At the trading house’s HQ in the outskirts of Minneapolis, finance employees jokingly called the banknotes -Staley bucks, after Cargill’s chief executive at the time, Warren Staley
7/n “That was seen as more reliable than the Zimbabwean currency, said David MacLennan, one of Staley’s successors The Monopoly money was no joke, however, for Cargill
8/n Cargill told the Zimbabwean Govt who was unaware of their money printing press, that it was helping them by alleviating the shortage of banknotes Issuing money was very lucrative - Cargill executives told US diplomats they were making a killing printing their own money
9/n The reason was simple - Zimbabwe was suffering from hyperinflation, with consumer prices increasing at a rate of about 365% per year. With banknotes in short supply, the recipients of Cargill’s Monopoly money tended to spend it rather than take it to the bank
10/n When the notes finally trickled into the bank, their value had been eaten away by inflation, sharply reducing Cargill’s actual payout in dollar terms That made their monopoly money a better business than their cotton business! 🤯🤯
11/n Main tweet image by @Javier Blas Taken from the Book – The World for Sale
Aditya Kondawar

Aditya Kondawar

Partner, Vice President - Key Accounts @Compcircle Tracks - IPOs, Pre-IPO/Unlisted, FMCG, Telecom I post threads on the above topics and many others!
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