Speed Reads


Venezuela's money is so worthless shopkeepers weigh piles instead of counting bills

Already suffering massive shortages of food and medicine, Venezuelans must now deal with a currency rapidly approaching Weimar Germany-level inflation. The Venezuelan bolívar has lost half its value in November alone and is now so worthless many shopkeepers have taken to weighing bundles of money instead of counting the hundreds of bills required to make everyday purchases.

The inflation rate is expected to reach 720 percent in Venezuela this year, and it could well hit 1,500 percent in 2017. The situation is so desperate many Venezuelans have emigrated to neighboring countries, and those who remain often must resort to black market deals to survive.

The socialist state is in this currency death spiral because President Nicolás Maduro responded to dropping oil prices (a nationalized oil industry is the government's main source of revenue) with currency manipulation, fixing the bolivar's exchange rate and forcing banks to print more money. The deluge of new bills devalued the currency, which in turn produced rising prices. Maduro has responded with plans to print bills in larger denominations.