Zimbabwe unveils notes as large as Z$100 trillion

At the beginning of this week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced 20- and 50-billion-dollar notes, and today, just four days later, it has unveiled even larger, record-breaking denominations: 10-, 20-, 50-, and 100-trillion-dollar notes. The 10-trillion-dollar note is going into circulation immediately (January 16, 2009), with the others to be introduced gradually.

"The $10 trillion note has the image of the RBZ building and the Conical Tower at the Great Zimbabwe National Monuments," says the state-run Herald newspaper. "The $100 trillion note has the image of a buffalo and the Victoria Falls, the $50 trillion the Kariba Dam spilling and an elephant, while a mineworker drilling in an underground shaft and the GMB grain silos appear on the new $20 trillion note."

The new notes have the same security features as the existing ones: a color-shift stripe printed RBZ, a color-shift Zimbabwe Bird, and the denominations as registration devices.

The 100-trillion-dollar note (that’s 100,000,000,000,000) could buy 20 loaves of bread at current rates, but the Washington think-tank Cato Institute has estimated inflation is running at 89.7 sextillion percent—a figure expressed with 21 zeroes—so vendors adjust prices almost constantly.

Courtesy of Abdullah Beydoun, Thomas Augustsson, Wally Myers, and Frank van Tiel.