This is how much cash was needed to purchase a raw 5-pound chicken in Venezuela in August. The chicken cost 14.6 million bolivares (Venezuela’s currency), the equivalent of a little more than two U.S. dollars. Hyperinflation in Venezuela has led to the “wheelbarrow problem,” when a currency has become so worthless that people need a wheelbarrow of cash to make purchases. The International Monetary Fund estimates that Venezuela’s annual inflation rate (the rate at which prices increase) could exceed 1,000,000% this year.
Home to the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries. But declining oil prices and political corruption have plunged the nation into an economic crisis. In an attempt to curb hyperinflation, the government in August slashed five zeros from the bolivar, renaming the bills “sovereign bolivares.”
That brought the price of the chicken down to 146 sovereign bolivares. But experts say it’s unlikely to help long term. In the meantime, many Venezuelans have resorted to trading for goods and services. “Once the currency is worthless,” says Juan Carlos Hidalgo, an expert on Latin America at the Cato Institute, “people rely on barter.”