For some, defunct Zimbabwean trillion-dollar notes reap huge gains

A street money changer counts South African Rands in Harare, Zimbabwe, in this May 5, 2016 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 May 2016
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For some, defunct Zimbabwean trillion-dollar notes reap huge gains

LONDON: Sales of Zimbabwean 100 trillion-dollar notes — long defunct as real currency — have been fetching some speculators returns of 1,500 percent, reported Al Arabiya.
Back in 2009, as massive hyperinflation in the impoverished African country hit a peak, one of the massive notes would have barely bought a bus fare.
But now, single 100 trillion-dollar bills are fetching up to $57 on auction site Ebay, the Guardian said on Saturday.
Zimbabwe has since abandoned its currency altogether for the US dollar, South African rand and several other foreign currencies.
However, the notes live on as souvenirs of a time gone by – and a lucrative investment.
John Wolstencroft, a UK-based private investor interviewed by the Guardian, originally bought the novelty notes as gifts before realizing they would soon become a collector’s item.
The notes soon became popular with financial advisors hoping to persuade clients that cash, as with all things, does not hold its value forever.
Some take the trade in defunct currencies very seriously. A US-based money wholesaler sensing an opportunity told the Wall Street Journal in 2011 that he had spent $150,000 buying up Zimbabwean bills.
“I've made more people trillionaires (than legendary US investor Warren Buffet),” Frank Templeton, a retired Wall Street equities trader, told the paper.
Dealers believe that the regime of Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe printed roughly five to seven million 100-trillion-dollar notes.
In contrast to the 1,500 percent returns enjoyed by some speculators, London’s stock exchange has increased by only 5 percent in the same period. The Dow Jones in New York meanwhile, has gained less than 7 percent in the same timeframe.
Out-of-circulation banknotes are not the only unconventional assets a budding investor might consider.
Lego sets kept in mint condition have increased in value 12 per cent each year since the year 2000, the London-based Telegraph reported in December.


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.