Venezuela’s Hyperinflation Is Breaking Deli Scales

There are just too many digits and the scales can’t keep up. So, Venezuelans simplify, dividing the number in their minds and using those numbers in their language.

Original art by @modográfico

In Venezuela, prices are so high, and so long, visually, that they don’t even fit on deli scales. Sounds like the start of a lame stand-up comedy show mocking our hyperinflation, but it’s (also) true!

Let Patricia Laya show you:

The stores’ deli scales run to only six digits. And ham, my WhatsApp food-hunting community tells me, is retailing nowadays for about 1,480,000 bolivars per kilogram. It didn’t matter that I wanted only a few hundred milligrams. The cost was, in this market at least, incalculable.

Bloomberg has this series of posts called “Life in Caracas”, where they talk about little quirks of living in Venezuela. They’re not meant to be substantial articles, instead they keep tabs on our collapse by pointing out the things we have to deal with.

This time, Patricia sees how the fast increase of prices is exceeding the capacity of stores’ devices, from the points of sale, to the freakin’ deli scales.

Also this:

No one is ready to handle that many zeroes. That’s why people are already converting the numbers, dividing them by 1000 (and sometimes even 100,000). It’s a thing, just go to, and you’ll see smartphones offered for the modest price of Bs. 50. It’s not 50, of course, or even 50,000. It’s 50 million bolivars.

I recommend you check Patricia’s work, and the rest of the Life in Caracas series. It’s hilarious and sad and great. I’m too used to crazy, and sometimes it takes an outsider, like an international reporter from Bloomberg, to notice these things.

Carlos Hernández

Ciudad Guayana economist moonlighting as the keyboardist of a progressive power metal band. Carlos knows how to play Truco. 4 8 15 16 23 42