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Hyperinflation simply means prices rising quickly in an economy. By definition, the beginning of hyperinflation is marked by a month where prices rise by more than 50%. This is a dizzying hike when you think about it, meaning that prices would more than double every 2 months. But even that pace looks like nothing when you look at some of the worst cases of hyperinflation in history.

Venezuela, 2017-Current

Caused by the government releasing far more money into the economy to pay its obligations when the price of oil dropped. 2015 saw 111% inflation, and in 2016 it was 254%. These are bad but these figures have exploded moving forward. 2017 it reached over 1000% and 2018 is predicted to have over 13000% inflation. All in a country that has the most oil reserves in the world.

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Greece, Oct. 1944

Caused by World War II debt. Prices rose by 13800% in October 1944, and 1600% in November. Largest bill went from the 50,000 drachma note to 100 trillion drachma.

Germany, Oct. 1923

Caused by war reparations and excess borrowing. Prices rose 29500% in October 1923. By November 1923 the exchange rate grew to 238 million papiermark to 1 USD. This led to the term “Zero Shock”, for all the zeroes seen in even simple shopping. Famous sights from this time include a wheelbarrow of money to buy bread, and using money as wallpaper.

Yugoslavia, Jan. 1994

Caused by regional conflicts and problems with the economy and government. Prices jumped 313 million percent in January. It got so bad, businesses stopped accepting the dinar, and the German Deutsche Mark became the currency people relied on. They revalued their currency 5 different times during the hyperinflation.

Zimbabwe, Nov. 2008

Caused by government mismanagement. Prices skyrocketed 79 billion percent in Nov 2008. The government even decreed that inflation was unlawful, and arrested the leaders of companies that raised prices. Prices doubled every day.

Hungary, first half of 1946

Caused by the World Wars, moreso WWII. The worst case of hyperinflation in history. Prices during the worst month rose 13,600,000,000,000,000 percent. They went from having a note worth 1000 pengo, to one worth 100 quintillion (quitillion is 10 plus 18 zeroes) pengo. Prices doubled nearly twice a day.  In August 1946 it was replaced with the currency unit of the forint. At that time it was estimated that all the pengo in Hungary was worth one tenth of a US penny.

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