Imagine that in the time-span that you drink a cup of coffee, the price of it gets doubled. Although rare & extreme, but some countries have witnessed this type of hyperinflation in the past. And as Rupee sliding down to an all-time low against dollar and the Mehengai increasing day-by-day, let us take a historical look at the five all-time worst cases of hyper-inflation and least-valued currency units.
Hungary – 1946
Highest monthly inflation: 13,600,000,000,000,000%
Prices doubled every: 15.6 hours
The worst hyperinflation ever recorded occurred in Hungary in the first half of 1946. By the middle of 1946, Hungary’s highest denomination bill was the 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 (One Hundred Quintillion) Pengo, compared to 1944s highest denomination, 1,000 Pengo. At the height of Hungary’s inflation, the daily inflation rate stood at 195 percent, with prices doubling approximately every 15.6 hours, coming out to a monthly inflation rate of 13.6 quadrillion percent.
Zimbabwe – Nov. 2008
Highest monthly inflation: 79,600,000,000%
Prices doubled every: 24.7 hours
The most recent example of hyperinflation, Zimbabwe’s currency woes hit a peak in November 2008, reaching a monthly inflation rate of approximately 79 billion percent. With prices almost doubling every 24 hours, reports from the country described that the price for a loaf of bread rose from $2 million to $35 million overnight.
Yugoslavia – Jan. 1994
Highest monthly inflation: 313,000,000%
Prices doubled every: 1.4 days
Another extreme case of hyperinflation was with the Yugoslavian dinar between 1993-1995. The steepest rate of inflation during this period was in January 1994, when prices rose 313 million percent over the month, which is equivalent to 64.6 percent per day, with prices doubling approximately every 34 hours. During the entire period of inflation, it is estimated that prices increased by 5 quadrillion percent.
Germany – Oct. 1923
Highest monthly inflation: 29,500%
Prices doubled every: 3.7 days
Hyperinflation in Germany in Oct 1923 reached to a monthly inflation rate of approximately 29,500 percent, and with an equivalent daily rate of 20.9 percent it took approximately 3.7 days for prices to double. The German Papiermark, which was introduced in 1914 at an exchange rate of 4.2 per US dollar devalued at the outbreak of WWI up to 1 million per US dollar in August 1923. By November, that number had skyrocketed to about 238 million Papiermark to 1 US dollar. A psychological disorder called “Zero Stroke” was coined, after people were forced to transact in the hundreds of billions for everyday items and were dizzied by the amount of zeros involved.
Greece – Oct. 1944
Highest monthly inflation: 13,800%
Prices doubled every 4.3 days
In the fifth worst inflation situation of all time, Greece in 1944 saw prices double every 4.3 days. Hyperinflation in Greece began in October 1943, during the German occupation of the country in WWII. However, the most rapid inflation occurred when the Greek government in exile regained control of Athens in October 1944; prices rose by 13,800 percent that month and another 1,600 percent in November.