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Venezuela's currency now worth so little shopkeepers weigh vast piles of notes instead of counting them

Published: November 28, 2016
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Source: The Independent

Inflation in Venezuela is expected to reach 720 per cent this year, with the largest bolívar bill now worth just five US cents on the black market.

Some shopkeepers have reportedly taken to weighing rather than counting the wads of cash customers hand them, and standard-size wallets have become all but useless in the socialist South American state. Instead, many people stuff huge volumes of cash into handbags, money belts, or backpacks, in scenes analysts have said are suggestive of "runaway" inflation.

In 2014, plummeting global oil prices decimated Venezuela's economy. President Nicolás Maduro responded by fixing the official exchange rate and ordering banks to print more cash, which ultimately devalued the currency further, while goods prices soared.

The country of 30 million does not publish consumer-price data on a regular basis, but observers have said scenes on the streets of the capital, Caracas, are reminiscent of the past century's most chaotic cases of hyperinflation.

Humberto Gonzalez, who runs a delicatessen in the city, said he uses the same scales to weigh slices of salty white cheese and the stacks of bolívar notes handed over by his customers .

“It’s sad,“ Mr Gonzalez told Bloomberg. ”At this point, I think the cheese is worth more.”

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