So yes the Zimbabwean government promised that it will be paying its workforce a USD75.00 stipend across the board. And yes, no one believes the government will finance the accounts of these civil servants with real money.
They printed US dollars (fake ones of course) before and they did it through the interbank settlement system. We all expect them to do it again. Civil servants will open foreign currency accounts and the government will deposit what they will claim to be American Dollars. That ‘money’ will most probably not be anything close to that.
Banks are opening the FCAs
Banks are of course opening the FCAs for the civil servants. In fact they are doing their best to make this easy for civil servants. For example this is what CABS is promising:
Banks have no choice
First banks have no choice because they will not want civil servants to report them to their pay master that they are being refused FCA accounts. The more important reason though is that banks have no choice because the promise of this money by the government is better than where they are right now.
Most of what the banks are earning is local currency which is useless and losing value by the minute. So banks have no choice but to be optimistic that this time the government will fund the civil servants FCAs with real money. If it turns out not to be real money, the banks will just find themselves in the same place they are right now, not any worse.
This means there is no downside to opening as many of the accounts as they can. There is potentially an upside. I am quite sure that all banks are 99% sure that what the government is promising is phantom money. However, they lose nothing by having opened the accounts anyway BUT they lose out on a big opportunity if the unlikely actually turns out to be true that the government is actually going to deposit real money. Such decisions are easy: win big if you win and lose nothing if you lose.
Banks probably have a plan
Banks are good at not being the one left holding the bag. The whole issue of the civil servants USD stipend gives them a huge opportunity to transfer the bag to you and I. How will banks do this?
They will receive whatever fake currency the government deposits into those accounts. They will get their little bit as civil servants transact from those accounts. As much as the banks will know that those little bits they will be taking will not be really USD they will still pretend they are.
As clever as they are, the banks will extend that money to you and I as loans. We will be given that money as if it’s foreign currency and we will sign IOUs in USD terms. At that point we will be holding the bag.
When the government house of cards goes kaput, it will not touch the banks so much. They will still want you and me to return the loans in the currency we borrowed: USD!
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