IN A FIT of pure pique at his country's deepening economic morass, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev has decided to crack down on both profiteers and inflation by withdrawing all 50- and 100-ruble bank notes in circulation in the Soviet Union.
It is a harebrained scheme that would be laughable, were it not the latest symptom of a malaise that could prove terminal for Gorbachev. As such, it's no laughing matter for him or the rest of the world.
Gorbachev, as he himself has conceded ruefully, is weakest on prescriptions for his tumbledown economy. Calling in large-denomination bank notes is not going to stop black-market profiteers. They will switch to other forms of exchange. Besides, the black market is one of the more efficient parts of the Soviet economy.