Loren Gatch writes:
Here's a little article about money laundering (of the benign type) in Zimbabwe. I recall reading about a similar problem in India, where the practice of storing notes on spindles creates pinholes that rapidly lead to the notes' disintegration. Short of increasing the supply of notes, it seems to me an interim solution would be to encase them in some sort of holder not unlike what was done with postage stamps in the US during the Civil War and Europe in World War I.
The washing machine cycle takes about 45 minutes — and George Washington comes out much cleaner in the Zimbabwe-style laundering of dirty money.
Low-denomination U.S bank notes change hands until they fall apart here in Africa, and the bills are routinely carried in underwear and shoes through crime-ridden slums.
Some have become almost too smelly to handle, so Zimbabweans have taken to putting their $1 bills through the spin cycle and hanging them up to dry with clothes pins alongside sheets and items of clothing.
It's the best solution — apart from rubber gloves or disinfectant wipes — in a continent where the U.S. dollar has long been the currency of choice and where the lifespan of a dollar far exceeds what the U.S. Federal Reserve intends.
Zimbabwe's coalition government officially declared the U.S. dollar legal tender last year to eradicate world record inflation of billions of percent in the local Zimbabwe dollar as the economy collapsed.
... among Africa's poor, the $1, $2, $5 and $10 bills are the most sought after. Dirty $1 bills can remain in circulation at rural markets, bus parks and beer halls almost indefinitely, or at least until they finally disintegrate.
Still, banks and most businesses in Zimbabwe do not accept torn, Scotch-taped, scorched, defaced, exceptionally dirty or otherwise damaged U.S. notes.
Zimbabweans say the U.S. notes do best with gentle hand-washing in warm water. But at a laundry and dry cleaner in eastern Harare, a machine cycle does little harm either to the cotton-weave type of paper. Locals say chemical "dry cleaning" is not recommended — it fades the color of the famed greenback.
If you ask me, I think the State Department should work with the Treasury to ship boatloads of unused U.S. dollar coins to Zimbabwe to exchange for worn-out notes for destruction.
To read the complete article, see:
Zimbabweans wash dirty US dollars with soap, water
Wayne Homren, Editor
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