Hyperinflation commonly leads to two shortsighted types of behavior: short-termism and ultra-conservativeness.

N and I both experienced hyperinflation in the same region at the same time. I developed response A and he did response B. And we still never fight about money.

But yeah, it stays with you. I’ll never forget carrying millions in my pocket because they were loose change. I also remember piles of money lying on the table and losing value while we were talking about what to spend it on. By the end of the conversation, the whole issue was moot.

The funny thing is that we got into our hyperinflation in the same way Venezuelans got into theirs. Oil prices dropped, it all got unsustainable, etc.

5 thoughts on “Hyper”

  1. Was it possible there to go down to the black market immediately and buy hard currency? It was what was done in Brazil in my day – you’d get paid and immediately pay all bills you needed to pay, but if you didn’t spend it all within a couple of hours, on things obviously needed, you went and bought dollars / yen / Deutschmarks.


    1. Eventually, yes, it all went to US dollars. But during the most intense time of the inflation it was illegal to own dollars. We still had the Soviet laws on the books that had penalties up to the capital punishment for it.


      1. So they were hard to get. It was illegal in Brazil too but with all these flights going to the US, Europe, Japan, they couldn’t stop it. I could even cash a personal check in dollars, changed at an advantageous rate to any currency I wanted, and my check would be deposited in Miami within a few hours. If it didn’t clear, I’d have the mafia after me! You couldn’t buy traveler’s checks and credit cards were not widely used. So as to be able to travel to Argentina, for instance, I’d have to go and buy dollars in cash to take there, since Argentina wouldn’t change Brazilian currency – not at a rate I could afford, anyway. All of this was criminal activity but so widespread that newspapers would publish the rates the black market should give you that day.


  2. I never personally experienced hyperinflation, but I visited Poland in 1993 when they had had a period of high inflation and it was really bizarre. I think the exchange rate was sometthing like 110,000 or 120,ooo Zloty for a dollar and the prices for every small thing involved enormous numbers. Nothing that was coin operated worked normally because all of the coins had been inflated out of existence, you had to buy tokens to use a luggage locker at the trainstation or to use a pay phone. But the worst was seeing tons and tons of old people begging and trying to sell things on the streets. My friend told me that the pensions hadn’t been adjusted to match inflation and retirees with no children to help them out had all been plunged into sudden poverty.


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