If you have traveled to one of these countries, you may have experienced the pleasure of feeling like a millionaire for a day and paying astronomical figures for a dinner, a hotel night or even a coffee. But what for many tourists is a joke, is actually not very funny for the local population. The hyperdevaluation of the currency is in general the result of processes of rampant inflation that wreak havoc on the purchasing power of citizens. The last case is Venezuela, which since Friday has released the digital bolivar, the result of removing six zeros from the sovereign bolivar. This one was released in 2018 after subtracting five zeros from the strong bolivar, which Hugo Chávez had created in his day as a replacement for the bolivar of a lifetime … subtracting three zeros. Don’t do the math: in 13 years, Venezuelans have deducted 14 zeros from their currency. Or what is the same: a bolivar is now worth one hundred billionths times less than in 2007.
The case of Venezuela is an extreme case, although not unusual. In a continent that experienced dramatic hyperinflation processes during the 20th century, the country led by Nicolás Maduro is already very close to the historical depreciation of the Brazilian currency: in 1967 Brazil began the first of six devaluations that, with six name changes through, the real was lit in 1994 after subtracting 15 zeros from the cruzeiro. Another paradigmatic example is that of the Argentine peso, which lost 13 zeros between 1970 and 1992. Currently one euro is worth 6.3 reais and 114.4 pesos. They are not part of the so-called hard currencies (such as the dollar, the euro, the Swiss franc or the British pound, in which in addition to their value, their stability is appreciated), but neither are they part of the group of most depreciated currencies on the planet: eight Currencies traded this Thursday at a value in which, for each unit of euro, more than 10,000 units in local currency would be obtained.
The first place is no surprise: for each euro 4.8 million sovereign bolivars would be obtained this Thursday, something that this Friday would have come to alleviate the new currency (1 euro is 4.8 digital bolivars), although it will be of little use if runaway inflation is not controlled. The arrival of the new currency has not meant the withdrawal from circulation of the previous one, a coexistence that seeks to “facilitate exact payments,” according to the Central Bank of Venezuela in a statement at the beginning of September. The 1 million sovereign bolivar banknote will therefore continue to be the largest denomination in the world. It premiered last March and is currently worth around 21 cents or 24 cents.
The second most devalued currency in the world is the Iranian rial. Decades of US sanctions, and Western sanctions in general, on the country of the ayatollahs have weakened its financial system and continually depreciated its currency, occasionally sparking protests over the high cost of living. Currently one euro is equivalent to almost 48,700 Iranian rials. Its highest denomination banknote, the 100,000 rial, is therefore just over two euros and less than 2.4 dollars.
Until last March, Vietnam had the banknote in circulation with the highest denomination in the world: half a million dongs. An honor he acquired in 2015 after another classic country in the history of currency fluctuations, Zimbabwe, redenominated its currency and retired a 100 trillion bill. As incredible as it may seem, it is not the historical record: in the hyperinflation that devastated interwar Germany, the one known as the Weimar Republic issued a similar note in marks. And when instability gripped the European economies during World War II and after the war, a bill of 100 trillion pengos, its currency at the time, came to circulate in Hungary. Its central bank even printed a 1,000 trillion bill, but it did not release it because a currency reform introduced the florin in the country. Back to the dong, the 500,000 bill equals about 19 euros (or what is the same, 26,341 dong for one euro) and 22 dollars. And in a country that in 2019 received more than 18 million tourists, where many prices in the big cities have been westernized, it is not strange that the visitor has to get the ticket on some occasion.
Almost 16,600 Indonesian rupees can be had for one euro. The Southeast Asian archipelago has the highest denomination of 100,000 rupees, which is equivalent to about 6 euros and 7 dollars. Uzbekistan (1 euro = 13,377 som) also has the highest denomination banknote of 100,000 units, the same as the last Asian country in the list of the most devalued currencies on the planet, Laos (1 euro = 11,483 kip). That means that your most valuable bills are worth 8 and 8.6 euros, respectively. In US currency, they are $ 9.4 and $ 10.1.
Different is the situation of Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two African countries whose currencies are also among the eight most depreciated on the planet. In the first, the largest bill is the 10,000 lioness, which means that it is worth less than a dollar and just 81 euro cents (1 euro = 12,236 lionesses). The paper of 20,000 Guinean francs is 1.77 euros or 2.05 dollars. An expression of more closed economies (between the two countries there are not even 100,000 annual tourists, in the latest figures available in the World Trade Organization, relative to 2018 and 2019), where large denominations are generally not necessary for exchanges.