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Venezuela demonetizes its highest denomination

Categories : Cash is a public good, Cash is trust
January 2, 2017
Published in : Availability, Crisis, Legal tender, South America
The President of Venezuela announces the demonetisation of the 100 bolivar note and triggers a severe cash crisis.
Guillaume Lepecq

Following the Indian decision to demonetize its two largest denominations in November, the President Nicolàs Maduro of Venezuela announced on 12 December the immediate withdrawal of the largest banknote the 100 bolivar. The withdrawal was initially to take place within 72 hours, but the lack of new notes triggered widespread protests and looting; the use of the banknote was then extended until after the new year.

President Maduro said the aim of withdrawing the note was to combat international “mafias” that hoard Venezuelan currency to hurt his government in an “economic war”.

The value of the bolivar had spiralled following triple-digit inflation; according to the Financial Times, the 100 bolivar note is worth 4 US cents on the parallel market. The central bank had ordered new denominations, including 20,000 bolivar notes from international printers. But their arrival has been delayed leading to a severe cash crisis.