Venezuela’s bolivar is collapsing. And as night follows day, Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate is soaring. Last week, the annual inflation rate broke through the 500% level. It now stands at 510%.
With free market exchange-rate data (usually black-market data), the real inflation rate can be calculated. The principle of purchasing power parity (PPP), which links changes in exchange rates and changes in prices, allows for a reliable inflation estimate.
Using black-market exchange rate data that The Johns Hopkins-Cato Institute Troubled Currencies Project has collected over the past year, I estimate Venezuela’s current annual implied inflation rate to be 510%. This is the highest rate in the world. It’s well above the second-highest rate: Syria’s, which stands at 84%.
Venezuela has not always experienced punishing inflation rates. From 1950 through 1979, Venezuela’s average annual inflation rate remained in the single digits.
It was not until the 1980s that Venezuela witnessed a double-digit average, and it was not until the 1990s that Venezuela’s average inflation rate exceeded that of the Latin American region.
Today, Venezuela’s inflation rate is over the top.
More on the Venezuelan Collapse
- As the state money goes bad, Venezuela’s Chavista regime is flailing, turning to price controls, then rationing, and then nationalization.
- Venezuela may soon meet the socialist tipping point: when cash is literally cheaper than toilet paper.
Steve H. Hanke is a Professor of Applied Economics and Co-Director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.