Hyperinflation is not an unusual phenomenon. 32 countries have experienced hyperinflation over the last 100 years of which no less than 21 have experienced it in the past 25 years and 3 in the past 10 years. The United States is one of the few countries to have experienced two currency collapses during its history (1812-1814 and 1861-1865). Is it about to happen again?
Hyperinflation Has Occurred in 21 Countries Over the Past 25 Years
1. Angola (1991-1999)
In the 1995 currency reform, 1 kwanza reajustado was exchanged for 1,000 kwanzas… In the 1999 currency reform, 1 new kwanza was exchanged for 1,000,000 kwanzas reajustados. The overall impact of hyperinflation: 1 new kwanza = 1,000,000,000 pre-1991 kwanzas.
2. Argentina (1975-1991)
In the 1983 currency reform, 1 Peso Argentino was exchanged for 10,000 pesos. In the 1985 currency reform, 1 austral was exchanged for 1,000 pesos argentine.
Hyperinflation continued reaching a peak annualized rate of 4,923.3 percent in December 1989. At that time, government expenditure reached 35.6 percent of GDP and the fiscal deficit was 7.6 percent of GDP.
In 1990 the Argentine government created a new monetary system and established a Currency Board in April 1991. Inflation fell from 1,344 percent in 1990 to 84 percent in 1991. In the 1992 currency reform, 1 new peso was exchanged for 10,000 australes.
The inflation rate for 1992 was 17.5 percent, 7.4 percent in 1993, 3.9 percent in 1994 and 1.6 percent in 1995. By 1995, government expenditure represented 27 percent of Argentina’s GDP. The overall impact of hyperinflation: 1 new peso = 100,000,000,000 pre-1983 pesos.
3. Belarus (1994-2002)
In the 2000 currency reform, the rublei was replaced by the new ruble at an exchange rate of 1 new ruble = 2,000 old rublei.
4. Bolivia (1984-1986)
In the 1987 currency reform, the peso boliviano was replaced by the boliviano which was pegged to the U.S. dollar.
5. Brazil (1986-1994)
By the mid 1980s inflation was out of control reaching a peak of 2000 percent. In 1986 three zeros were dropped and the cruzeiro became the cruzado. In 1989, another three zeroes were dropped and the cruzado became the cruzado novo.
In order to avoid confusion and not associate the new currency with previous monetary policy, the cruzado novo was renamed the cruzeiro with no change in value in 1990. By 1993, three more zeros were dropped from the cruzeiro which became known as the cruzeiro real.
In 1994 the cruzero real was replaced by the real, worth 2.75 old cruzeiros reais… and the following measures were enacted:
1. A constitutional amendment… which empowered the Central Bank not to finance the budget deficit
2. The Central Bank made it illegal for regional banks to buy government-issued bonds
3. Wages were frozen…
As a result of these measures, prices dropped dramatically from July 1994 onwards and by 1997 inflation had been reduced to standard international levels. The overall impact of hyperinflation: 1 (1994) real = 2,700,000,000,000,000,000 pre-1930 reis.
6. Bosnia-Herzegovina (1993)
Bosnia-Hezegovina went through its worst inflation in 1993. In 1992, the highest denomination was 1,000 dinara. By 1993, the highest denomination was 100,000,000 dinara. In the Republika Srpska, the highest denomination was 10,000 dinara in 1992 and 10,000,000,000 dinara in 1993.
7. Bulgaria (1991-1997)
In 1996, Bulgaria defaulted on its international debt and narrowly escaped a revolution. From 1991 to 1997, Bulgaria experienced hyperinflation (rates of inflation exceeding 50%) that crippled its banking system and during the winter 1996-97 hyperinflation and food shortages led to hunger protests. A currency board established in July 1997 slashed three zeroes off the currency.
8. Ecuador (2000)
Ecuador officially pegged its currency to the US dollar in September 2000 after a 75% drop in value in early January of that year.
9. Georgia (1995)
In the 1995 currency reform, 1 new lari was exchanged for 1,000,000 laris.
10. Madagascar (2004)
The Madagascan franc lost nearly half its value in 2004. On 1 January 2005 the Madagascan ariary replaced the franc at a rate of 1 ariary for five Madagascan francs.
11. Mexico (1994)
On 1 January 1993, the Bank of Mexico introduced a new currency, the nuevo peso which was equal to 1,000 old pesos. Since the Mexico Peso Crisis of 1994 the value of the Mexico peso has plummeted by almost 60%.
12. Nicaragua (1987-1990)
Nicarauga went through a currency reform in 1988 which saw 1 new Cordoba replace 1,000 old cordobas. In the mid-1990 currency reform, 1 old Cordoba equaled 5,000,000 new cordobas. Total impact of hyperinflation: 1 old Cordoba = 5,000,000,000 pre-1987 cordobas.
13. Peru (1984-1990)
In the 1985 currency reform, 1 intis was exchanged for 1000 soles de oro… In the 1991 currency reform, 1 nuevo sol was exchanged for 1,000,000 intis. The overall impact of hyperinflation: 1 nuevo sol = 1,000,000,000 pre 1985 soles de oro.
14. Poland (1990-1993)
Poland suffered two bouts of hyperinflation. The first occurred from 1922 to 1924 when inflation rates reached 275%.[The second,] after three years of hyperinflation, resulted in currency reform in 1994 in which 10,000 old zlotych were exchanged for 1 new zloty.
15. Romania (2000-2005)
Romania is still working through steady inflation that began around the time when the Iron Curtain came down… Consumer inflation in 2000 was over 45%… In July 2005 the leu was replaced by the new leu at 10,000 old lei = 1 new leu. Inflation in 2005 was about 9%.
16. Russia (1992-1994)
Russia experienced 213% inflation during the Bolshevik Revolution and again during the first year of post-Soviet reform in 1992 when annual inflation peaked at 2520%. In 1993 the annual rate was 840%, and in 1994, 224%. The ruble devalued from about 100 r/$ in 1991 to about 30,000 r/$ in 1999.
17. Turkey (1990’s)
Throughout the 1990s Turkey dealt with severe inflation rates that finally crippled the economy into a recession in 2001…Recently Turkey has achieved single digit inflation for the first time in decades, and in the 2005 currency reform, introduced the New Turkish Lira; 1 was exchanged for 1,000,000 old lira.
18. Ukraine (1993-1995)
Inflation rates peaked at 1400% per month between 1993 and 1995 resulting in the karbovantsiv being taken out of circulation in 1996 and replaced by the hryvnya at an exchange rate of 100,000 karbovantsivi = 1 hryvnya.
19. Yugoslavia (1989-1994)
[Yugoslavia had the] second worst hyperinflationary period in recent history with a monthly inflation rate of 5 quintillion percent. Between Oct 1, 1993 and January 24, 1994 prices doubled every sixteen hours on average. At the end of it, one novi dinar = 1,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pre-1990 dinars.
20. Zaire (1989-1996)
In the 1993 currency reform, 1 nouveau zaire was exchanged for 3,000,000 old zaires. In 1997 Zaire was renamed the Congo Democratic Republic and changed its currency to francs. 1 franc was exchanged for 100,000 nouveaux zaires. The overall impact of hyperinflation: One 1997 franc = 300 billion pre-1989 dinars.
21. Zimbabwe (1999 – 2009)
The Rhodesian dollar (R$) replaced the pound as the currency in 1970 at a rate of 2 Rhodesian dollars = 1 pound (R$ 0.71 = USD $1.00). At the time of independence in 1980, one Zimbabwean dollar (of 100 cents) was worth US$1.50…. [Inflation reached an absurd 231,000,000% in the summer of 2008. Output measured in dollars had halved in barely a decade. A hundred-trillion-dollar note was made ready for circulation, but no sane tradesman would accept local banknotes. A ban on foreign-currency trading was lifted in January 2009. By then the American dollar had become Zimbabwe’s main currency, a position it still holds today.]
The comments above are edited ([ ]) and abridged (…) excerpts from an article by Mike Hewitt
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