What Hyperinflation Looks Like

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Mintlife has a fascinating slideshow of various currencies that have undergone massive inflation -- often during periods of war or political instability. It seems funny at first glance, until you ponder what life would really be like in a society undergoing that kind of upheaval.

Anyone who has lived through a period of hyperinflation can tell you that it’s a trying time on both your financial and psychological well being. Prices go up every day, in some cases several times a day. If you’re lucky, your pay somewhat attempts to keep up — and you get paid more often than usual. Your country is in a financial crisis, most likely combined with political instability or even war. On the bright side, you become a millionaire. Granted, a million won’t buy you that much, but to an outsider, looking at your country’s currency is kind of amusing.

Zimbabwe -- whose 2009-era 100 trillion dollar bill is pictured above -- is going through massive hyperinflation that started in 2003. It's currently the second worst such crisis in history, with a staggering annual inflation rate of 516 quintillion per cent in 2008, with prices doubling every 1.3 days. One way they're dealing with the crisis: by revaluing their dollars and hacking zeroes off their bills. The money's just as worthless -- it just looks slightly less ridiculous.

The WORST such crisis struck Hungary just after WWII ended. They ended up with the largest banknote ever -- the five quintillion pengo bill.

After the pengo was replaced in 1946, this was the scene on the streets of Budapest:

September 30, 2010 - 3:05am
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