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 www.mercadolibre.com, 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.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. yeha, you see a lot of people saying 2mil (thousand in spanish) for 2 millions, or just 800 for 800 000. It’s been several weeks now, it’s just becoming more and more prevalent.

    I guess it’s time to pull out the bolivar super fuerte

    • Yep, they typically drop the mil these days. When someone says something goes for 20, they mean 20,000 or veinte mil. And most, when they do add the mil, mean a million.

      I’ve gotten to the point that when I work the bodega alone I hardly count those huge stacks anymore. If someone hands me 10,000 in 50 bolivar notes, I know pretty much what it feels like. Same for a pack of 100 bolivar notes in the amout of 10 or 20 mil. Heck, I can grab a stack, stick ’em in the counter, and usually come within a bill or two of hitting exactly 100.

      Either I or the woman count them later as we’re preparing the baskets of cash to pay for stuff.

      BTW, palatanos. That’s where it’s at my friends. Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a platanos tycoon. LOL

      • Raising it up. Waxing it down.
        In a little white box that I can sell up town.

        I played that album out in college. Dynamo Hum!

      • Slightly more seriously, we have a bunch of apple banana plants, and while they are coveniently small and taste just like the big ones, a diet of too many bananas is a really bad idea, especially in a country without toilet paper.

    • The $320 billion total cybercurrency number compares to world GDP of somewhere over $55 trillion – less than 1%. The relevant number would be annual volume in the things, how much trade is conducted in them, how much are they used (other than coffeeshop talk about them). The total world money supply is guesstimated at somewhere over $84 trillion dollar equivalents – about $31 trillion of that in physical currency. Heck, if we’re going to talk in millions of BF, might as well talk in billions and trillions as well. Thankfully, we’re a ways from quadrillions.

  2. Question for the geeks here: how do point-of-sale card readers or scanners handle the digits? How many bits on their chips, 8 or 16 or 32? Anyone know? My first computer was an 8 bit chip, and it took like six hours for it to process what my present computer with a 32 bit chip can do in a second, so these huge numbers must be having an impact on the entire banking system, at some point.

    • Reminds me of the FIRST hand-held calculator I bought for my chemistry classes at university. I’m guessing it was 1971 or thereabouts. Cost me $100 friggin US dollars. A simple hand-held calculator. Gawd I can’t believe that looking back on it today.

      • I got one too (TI-!0), The same time frame (1973). My employer arranged to get the calculators (special deal?) at $149.95, paid off in six months. I had to learn about Moore’s Law then. The calculator piece dropped to $ 20.00 in six months (your could get the same thing cheaper from China or Korea). Still more tan VZ’s need now.

  3. More than $700 dollars in today’s currency (I don’t like doing that inflation-effect math). Best wishes to you and Crystal and family, sincerely.

    • About 10 years later, they were handing them out at banks if you opened a checking account.

      I cant think of anything more stressful and difficult than having a small and fragile child in her dire situation in Venezuela in 2018. That you can still come here to this blog and share everyday mundane stuff and humor is amazing to me. Is not something you have to divulge, but is not confidential, are her docs from MD Anderson?

      • They’re US, but I’ve not met them. The woman and I pretty much hold down the fort here on this side of the country for her parents while they handle things in Caracas. I mentioned in another thread that it appears things have turned grave for Crystal. I had hoped to not have to use that word because every time we were sure she’d run out time, she sprang back full force. Simply an amazing child and incredible that one so young and fragile can teach others about the value of life.

        I come here trying to maintain my sanity. The thoughts and prayers and encouragement from you bunch of mongrels and misfits is invaluable and I thank you all, each and every one of you.

        • Lo siento MRubio..a once beautiful Venezuela has become a cruel mistress. But you and your family remain a glimpse of life and hope, and future.

  4. The Locatel Pharmaceuticals stores cannot issue receipts for more than 1.500.000 Bs, (aprox.) so either they issue a shipping note that says they sold you such and such medicine, or they divide it in several receipts …

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