Developing Economies

In Zimbabwe, U.S. Dollars Get Clean

Zimbabwe Dollars
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

A while back, Zimbabwe got rid of its absurdly debased local currency and made U.S. dollars legal tender.

But with the Federal Reserve an ocean away, there's no mechanism in Zimbabwe for replacing old U.S. dollar bills with fresh money.

So Zimbabweans have taken matters into their own hands, washing old bills that get too smelly or dirty, the AP reports.

The story's a reminder of the persistence of the dollar's global status. It's not just a reserve currency for central banks and the money of choice for international businessmen; it's also the unofficial currency of street vendors around the world, and legal tender in a handful of countries, including El Salvador, Ecuador and Zimbabwe.

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