Last week I wondered who is supplying security paper for printing Zimbabwe's banknotes. Last year a German firm was shamed into pulling out, but it was never revealed who the "Plan B" supplier was. E-Sylum reader Bob Leuver, former head of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (and Executive Director of the American Numisamtic Association) forwarded these thoughts. -Editor I have been intrigued about who might be printing the notes and how they are being paid for.
The latter question has a simple answer. If you are printing notes in the trillions, just slip one from the top of the stack and satisfy your debt. OK, even with the high inflation, Zimbabwe must have some assets abroad that only they know about. It could be gold stored in the Federal Reserve vault in New York, gold stored with an American smelter (Englehardt comes to mind), or with some foreign country such as Russia or Iran.
Who is the printer? If I, or one of our savants of banknotes, could get hold of a note we could determine whether they are printed locally or by a security printer. If a security printer, then it will be more difficult to determine the source unless one is especially conversant with the style of noted engravers or the engraving style of government or private security printers.
Collectors (researchers and authors) such as Gene Hessler might be able to discern the engraving style.
However, with the correct incentive, there are many security printers that could print currency undetected and whose financial records are not open to scrutiny. Again, Iran comes to mind.
Granvyl Hulse adds:
I think that a $100 trillion Zimbabwe banknote would be quite a collector's item. Do you know of anyone selling them?
Well, I wouldn't be surprised to see these notes turn up in the numismatic market, but don't know of anyone selling them today. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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