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What Zimbabwe Can Teach Us


Monica E. Hartmann
Economics Department
University of St. Thomas
Robert J. Werner
Geography Department
University of St. Thomas


This case study uses the Zimbabwean experience with hyperinflation to give students an opportunity to apply a variety of economic concepts to a real world event. The topics include, but are not limited to, scarcity, production possibility frontier, supply and demand, and fiscal and monetary policies. Because the four parts of the case are linked together (they use the same economic scenario), students will carry over and apply the knowledge obtained in one part of the case to the next one. As a result, students see the interrelatedness of the macroeconomic issues and obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the issues and not just looking at one aspect in isolation. The case was designed for an introductory macroeconomics college course, but can be modified for a development or agricultural economics course. Instructors can choose to use all parts of the case or just some of them depending on time constraints and topic interest.


  • Weigh the concepts of unlimited wants with scarcity of resources.
  • Deduce the macroeconomic effects of household budget allocation decisions.
  • Identify the location in which a country is operating on a production possibility frontier based on a given scenario.
  • Identify firms' production decisions in response to government price decrees.
  • Recognize that the government's price decree leads to a movement and not a shift in supply and demand.
  • Identify how price-setting affects prices, supply, and demand.
  • Deduce the short-and long-term implications of price ceilings.
  • Discuss legal and political issues surrounding property rights in Zimbabwe.
  • Identify how the lack of respect for property rights impacts the macroeconomy.
  • Represent the macroeconomic effects using the per worker production function.
  • Recognize that a strong, non-corrupt judicial system is also necessary for economic growth.
  • Identify actions the government can do to alleviate high unemployment.
  • Infer consequences of those actions on inflation.


Macroeconomics; production possibility frontier; scarcity; supply and demand; hyperinflation; fiscal and monetary policy; land policies; property rights; Zimbabwe; Africa

Topical Areas

Policy issues, Social issues, Social justice issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods

Analysis (Issues), Discussion



Subject Headings

Economics  |  

Date Posted


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