Venezuela to issue bigger notes ‘very soon’ as inflation surges
President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday Venezuela would issue higher denomination bills “very soon” as soaring inflation and a crumbling currency leave the crisisstricken country’s largest note worth just 2 US cents on the black market.
Still, the long-awaited entry of 500 and 5,000 bolivar notes will only bring a brief respite amid rapid money printing and a weakening currency. Today 5,000 bolivars buy just over $1 on the black market, which exists because Venezuela introduced currency controls in 2003 but does not offer enough dollars to meet demand. Venezuela is believed to have the world’s highest inflation, although no data has been published for 2016. Money supply rose 12 percent in the last two weeks while the bolivar weakened 65 percent in the last month.
As a result, Venezuelans often carry backpacks full of bills and cash machines frequently run dry due to long queues. “Several million bills of 500 bolivars and then several million bills of 5,000 bolivars will enter circulation very soon,” Maduro said in a televised address, noting that the central bank would provide details today and tomorrow.
Adding to the currency chaos, Venezuela’s credit card readers, already shaky, suffered chronic malfunctions on Friday. Unable to process transactions, stores had to ask clients to use cash, transfers, or pay later. Maduro blamed a “cyberattack” and said he was sending the Sebin intelligence service to Credicard, a payment processor, to take “all legal actions.”