Venezuela Enters the Record Book, Officially Hyperinflates


By Steve Hanke.


Venezuela’s inflation has officially become the 57th official, verified episode of hyperinflation and been added to the Hanke-Krus World Hyperinflation Table, which is printed in the authoritative Routledge Handbook of Major Events in Economic History (2013). An episode of hyperinflation occurs when the monthly inflation rate exceeds 50 percent for 30 consecutive days. Venezuela’s monthly inflation rate first exceeded 50 percent on November 3rd and continues to do so, sitting at 131 percent as of December 11, 2016. The peak monthly inflation rate thus far was 221 percent, which is relatively low in the context of hyperinflations. This and more is documented in detail in the linked paper, which I co-authored with Charles Bushnell, “Venezuela Enters the Record Book: The 57th Entry in the Hanke-Krus World Hyperinflation Table,” newly published in the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise Studies in Applied Economics working paper series.

The Hanke-Krus World Hyperinflation Table and a chart of Venezuela’s monthly inflation rate are reproduced below. Sources for the Hanke-Krus World Hyperinflation Table are at the bottom.

Hanke-Krus World Hyperinflation Table Notes and Sources

– When a country experiences periods of hyperinflation that are broken up by 12 or more consecutive months with a monthly inflation rate below 50%, the periods are defined as separate episodes of hyperinflation.

– The currency listed in the chart is the one that, in a particular location, is associated with the highest monthly rate of inflation. The currency may not have been the only one that was in circulation, in that location, during the episode.

– We are aware of one other likely case of hyperinflation: North Korea. We reached this conclusion after calculating inflation rates using data from the foreign exchange black market, and also by observing changes in the price of rice. Based on our estimates, this episode of hyperinflation most likely occurred from December 2009 to mid- January 2011. Using black-market exchange-rate data, and calculations based on purchasing power parity, we determined that the North Korean hyperinflation peaked in early March 2010, with a monthly rate of 496% (implying a 6.13% daily inflation rate and a price-doubling time of 11.8 days). When we used rice price data, we calculated the peak month to be mid-January 2010, with a monthly rate of 348% (implying a 5.12% daily inflation rate and a price-doubling time of 14.1 days). All of these data were obtained August 13, 2012 from Daily NK, an online newspaper that focuses on issues relating to North Korea

What Next?

Recent Articles