Latin America's 8 worst cases of runaway inflation

By
Monday, January 8, 2018

Despite suffering from surging consumer prices since 2014, Venezuela entered the realm of hyperinflation only in November as the ailing economy ebbed to a new low.

According to the national assembly, which has resorted to publishing its own data after the central bank stopped releasing official figures last year, the oil-rich country's November inflation rate hit 56.7%.

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Economists usually agree that a 50% month-on-month rise in consumer prices is the threshold for hyperinflation.

A devil-may-care approach to money printing, foreign exchange controls and sinking oil export revenue are expected to further diminish spending power in the coming months.

Miami-based consultancy Econométrica claims the country's 2018 annual inflation rate could spiral to "100,000 or 200,000%."

Such a scenario would see Venezuela become Latin America's worst hyperinflation victim, usurping Peru, which saw its worst price increases in 1990.

BNamericas has compiled a list of the region's eight hyperinflation cases, citing data from a Johns Hopkins University study.

1. PERU

July 1990 to August 1990

Peak monthly inflation: 397%

Alberto Fujimori was elected President of Peru in July 1990 after promising to tackle inflation with a raft of neoliberal reforms. CREDIT: AFP

2. NICARAGUA

June 1986 to March 1991

Peak monthly inflation: 261%

Nicaragua's inflation rate sky-rocketed after US-President Ronald Reagan imposed a trade embargo on the Central American country in 1985 and described the left-wing government of Daniel Ortega (pictured) as a threat to national security. CREDIT: AFP

3. ARGENTINA

May 1989 to March 1990

Peak monthly inflation: 197%

Families from the Buenos Aires district of Polvorines protest against Argentina's rising prices in May 1989.  CREDIT: AFP

4. BOLIVIA

April 1984 to September 1985

Peak monthly inflation: 183%

According to the IMF, prices in Bolivia surged by around 23,000% from 1983 to 1985 as the government resorted to printing money to cover budget deficits. CREDIT: AFP

5. PERU

September 1988

Peak inflation: 114%

President Alan García's decision to introduce price controls and limit debt repayments backfired when Peru's inflation spiralled out of control in 1988. CREDIT: AFP

6. CHILE

October 1973

Peak inflation: 87.6%

Chile's period of hyperinflation came just weeks after the 1973 military coup that ousted the socialist government of Salvador Allende. CREDIT: AFP

7. BRAZIL

December 1989 to March 1990

Peak monthly inflation: 82.4%

A street vendor in Rio de Janeiro displays cruzeiro banknotes during Brazil's 1990 inflation crisis. CREDIT: AFP

8. VENEZUELA

November 2017 - ?

Peak monthly inflation 56.7%

A Venezuelan immigrant sells candy and offers Bolivar bills in exchange for local coins on a bus in Bogota, Colombia, in October 2017. CREDIT: AFP