CNN Money, Dec 5, 2016
Venezuela will print a 20,000 bolivar note after hyperinflation turned its currency into worthless pieces of paper.
The central bank said Sunday it will issue six new bills starting Dec. 15 worth between 500 and 20,000 bolivars. That’s 200 times the biggest note currently in circulation — the 100 bolivar.
Hyperinflation means very little can be bought with 100 bolivars, which is officially worth 15 U.S. cents, or just 2 cents based on widely-used unofficial exchange rates.
The currency collapse means people are having to carry their money around in bags, rather than wallets.
“For example, a pair of pants is about 40,000 bolivars, which means you currently need to carry 400 bills of 100 bolivars each to be able to buy them,” said Luis Oliveros, an economic professor at the Caracas Metropolitan University.
He said the central bank move was long overdue.
“People have used credit cards so much that electronic payment systems have recently collapsed. This is a very serious problem.”
Inflation in Venezuela is expected to rise to nearly 500% this year and to a whopping 1,660% in 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In November alone, the bolivar lost more than half of its value. One U.S. dollar buys 4,400 bolivars on Monday, according to Dolartoday.com.
The central bank will also release new coins worth 10, 50 and 100 bolivars.
Venezuela is in the grip of a deep economic crisis that has led to serious food and medicine shortages for everyday people. The country is heavily dependent on oil for revenue, but this stream of income is drying up. The country could officially default on its debt in mid-December.
Venezuela eliminated three zeroes from its currency in 2008 and the government promised to take steps to rein in inflation, but those efforts have failed.
Meanwhile, economists don’t expect the new bills to make life easier for most Venezuelans any time soon.
Oliveros expects 500 and 1,000 bolivar bills will be distributed in the main cities at first, with the larger denominations appearing gradually over the next several months.