Original art by @modográfico

The fact that Venezuela is going through hyperinflation annoys me to no end, because we are a textbook case. A estas alturas, this is a very well understood phenomenon. We know how it works, we know what causes it and we know how to end it. Forget about the economic war or the sanctions; the government adds fuel to the hyperinflationary fire by creating bolivars out of thin air, to cover public expenses.

Since they’ve been doing it at an unprecedented rate, the monetary base is now beyond the 100 trillion bolivars.

102,513,206,955,373 bolívares, to be exact.


For reference, when Maduro took office in 2013, the monetary base was just 250 billion bolivars.

A hundred trillion is a number so big that wrapping your head around it is sort of complex. That’s why I decided to crunch some numbers:

If there are 3.5 trillion fish in the sea, there are 29 bolívares for each.

That’s 34 for every one of the three trillion trees on the planet.

That’s 250 bolívares for every star in our galaxy.

Still can’t see how much that is?

Alright: a human head normally has 150,000 hairs. If every bolivar was a hair, you would need 683 million people to have the same amount of bolivars existing right now. That’s double the population of the United States.

If every bolivar was a second, you would need 3,250,672 years to equal the amount that’s out there. I could tell you how many olympic pools you would fill if every bolivar was a drop, but I think you get it (it’s 2050 pools).

Now, when you see that the monetary base rose by 24%, like it did in the third week of december, you get an idea of how outrageous the figure is. Our central bank is financing the public deficit in the worst possible way and they have no intention of stopping.

Why bother collecting taxes right? That’s for normal countries. Here, you print what you need!

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  1. One hundred trillion here, one hundred trillion there, and pretty soon were taking about real money … except the Bolivar is no long real money …

  2. Bah! Its just zeros! Meaningless to the Chavista faithful! Because wealth “just appears” out of thin air!

    How can I send REAL MONEY ($5) to Venezuela in order to get 1,000,000 BsF in return? I would like to prove to people that I am really a millionaire!

  3. Maybe Vzla should start trading in sheets of toilet paper. One sheet would likely equal 240 Bolivars. No need for printing costs and the supply would be used up automatically as the economy improved.

    • The cheap stuff, or the extra soft three-ply? Can’t you already buys rolls in Miami with Maduro’s face printed on each sheet? I recall there used to be Fidel Castro TP.

  4. That’s about 3.3 million bolívares for each Venezuelan. To put things in perspective, in US the monetary base is around 3% of the Venezuelan one in dollar denomination, or approximately 11,500 USD per capita…

  5. This is disappointing, Kleptozuela can do much better:

    Zimbabwe 2008

    Imagine prices doubling every twenty-four hours. That’s exactly what happened in Zimbabwe’s run-in with hyperinflation in November 2008 when inflation reached unheard of levels of 79 billion percent. Eventually, runaway inflation caused the Zimbabwe government to ditch their currency and use the South African Rand or the US dollar… long after their citizens wished to do the same, of course.

    After Robert Mugabe’s “land reforms” (read: private property confiscation), the Zimbabwe economy came to a screeching halt that lasted for years. Just as happened in Rhodesia in the 1970s, attempts to redistribute land from white Zimbabweans for political capital sent the economy into a free fall, prompted capital flight, and sent people running for the hills. Of course, pouring money into neighboring Congo’s civil wars didn’t help, either. During this period of hyperinflation, a loaf of bread cost 35 million Zimbabwe dollars.

    • Those guys are feeling so contradicted right now. The observations in section 1.2 and 3.1 are just so perfectly opposing that you have to be a true believer to use them in the same argument without noticing the contradiction it is unbelievable.

  6. Interesting 100 metrical billions or 100 imperial/UD trillions there is a big difference but imperial measures are shorter than metrical ones

  7. Well, I thought I’d heard it all, but I hadn’t.

    A liter of engine oil now goes for about 700,000 bs…..at least it did last week. My woman claimed today that it was double that but I haven’t confirmed it.

    Anyway, a bunch of us were sitting around shooting the breeze today while the harverster was cutting corn to fill up the truck I’d hired to haul it for me. Of course, the topic of conversation was how insane the country has become and one of the guys mentions the 700,000 bs per liter of oil for his car. Another says, “yeah, I checked the oil in my vehicle yesterday before cranking it up and it didn’t register on the dip stick. WTF? So I look under the vehicle and see that someone has been under there and drained the oil out.”

    I asked if had any enemies because why else would anyone drain the oil out of his vehicle? Hell no, he says, they stole the oil to use it in their own vehicle!!!! Others said they’ve heard the same. People are stealing used oil from vehicles because they can’t afford the un-used stuff. LOL

    • Not to sound crude but this, the cost of engine oil, sounds like a positive move towards market equilibrium. I pay about $30.00 for five quarts of full-synthetic (product cost and I do the labor), any correction of policy is going to involve actual/significant pain. I know this is not gov’t policy but even Chavismo can not continually live outside of market rules.

    • I too just changed the oil in a couple of the company trucks (I do it myself during slow periods, just to keep my hand at it, plus its cheaper than taking it to Jiffy Lube) and the oil/filter for 3 trucks (6 liters each) ran about $37/truck for synthetic. I don’t know the nuances of oil and synthetic could come from coconuts as far as I know.

      I keep Mrs. Guapo up to date on some of the stuff I read here in this forum, and she just shakes her head*. Despite the fact that she is a US citizen and loves living here, she misses a lot about Venezuela and laments the “shithole” it has become. All of the resources and beauty that God could give a nation… squandered on a nation of thieves and ingrates. She doesn’t keep up to date with a lot of what is going on because I think it breaks her heart.

      She can’t decide if the people are scared, criminally inclined or just outright stupid.


      *She just shakes her head at me. She reserves her REAL OPINIONS for her relatives, and despite my working knowledge of colloquial Venezuelan Spanish, I can’t keep up when she goes on a tear. I don’t know if most Venezuelan women are like Mrs. Guapo, but if you gave a bunch of women like her a gun on a bad day and pointed them towards Miraflores,.. Maduro would be BEGGING to return to his job as a bus driver, and Diosdado would have his mazo 12 inches straight up is waste pipe.

  8. Is Venezuela actually printing notes to feed the inflation? Or are they just adding zeros to the central bank’s account to cover the bills?

    If they are printing notes, then how? They cost real money to create and print. It has to cost more to print one of those notes that it is worth. How does that make any sense at all? Or are they just being stupid and throwing away real money to print worthless monopoly money?

    • There have been recent posts and reader comments on this blog regarding the shortage of paper currency, and how this creates a market premium for physical cash, at least for the “higher denomination” notes (ha, ha). According to no less authority than Wikipedia, the highest existing notes are for Bs. 100,000, just recently introduced. But these are now worth less than 10 cents US, and in a few weeks, they will be worth less than a nickle, then less than a penny, and so on. New currency is expensive. The regime is broke. Electronic bank transfers (very common in much of the world including China) require a robust and working communication systems, and viable banks. So there’s that.

    • They don’t bother printing. They just create it and transfer it to bank accounts of public employees and government suppliers. There is no cash, just a huge amount of liquidity floating around through bank accounts…

  9. Has any information been released regarding the introduction of the 200.000, 500.000 and 1.000.000 bill ? With Hyperinflation taking hold they will need to introduce new, higher denomination bills quickly.


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