Turns out it can be a good thing to have your biggest banknote worth only USD 0.20. That way nobody can carry a significant amount of money. Just too damn heavy.
Thieves in Caracas today hit a bank at the very moment when its vault was open, allowing them to get the unusually large haul of BSF 2.4 million, newspaper El Nacional reports. However they abandoned a sack with almost 1.8 million bolivars in it outside the bank, and got away with only 647,000. That’s about USD 1,440 at the market rate.
Hannah Dreier, the wonderful AP correspondent in Caracas, reports that coins have disappeared there. And yet the Venezuelan mint says it continues to produce them (Excel sheet).
Here are the number of pieces in circulation over the past couple years:
Thanks to the miracles of Excel, I was able to use that table to calculate a minimum number of how many pieces have been minted in the past two years, past year, and past month. (Note that this is net of any coins intentionally taken out of service, but that number is probably very small.)
Minor item, but I had thought Venezuela’s recent cash crunch came from the Amuay refinery explosion and the need to import lots of fuel for international prices. I downloaded the convenient chart of the country’s black market currency rate from dolartoday.com and I see that the steady exchange rate broke down on August 15, while the explosion didn’t happen for another two weeks. So if there was any causal connection, it might have been the other way. Chart:
US$1,000 is easy to carry around in your pocket. You need 10 US$100 bills. That will fit easily into a typical wallet. Things are easier in Europe, where you need only two €500 bills. Some other countries, not so much. How many notes do you need to have $1000?
Per XE.com, dolarblue, and dolar today
The Venezuelan 100-bolivar note is the country’s highest-denomination currency. When introduced in 2008, it was worth US$46.51. Valued at the price that people will pay for it (rather than the “price” declared by the government) its value has now slipped to $1.88, making it the least valuable top-denomination currency in any country in the Americas, at least. In real terms, you need 550 of them to have $1000.
Are there others like it elsewhere?
You folks love these, so don’t mind me if I keep throwing them out there. A pal in Venezuela points out that you need a lot of 50-bolivar notes, now worth about US$1.50, just to get by, and that the 100-bolivar note remains the largest in circulation, five years after the disappearance of three zeroes from the currency so as to “strengthen it.” That’s all old hat, but it drives me to this monthly table from Venezuela’s central bank. Click it, you love Excel tables.
Then, with the miracle of subtraction, I take the number of coins or bills in circulation in June, from the second sheet of that document, and I subtract the number in June 2012, and that way I can see how many new coins and bills have been put into circulation in that 12-month period.