I've got to think that being the FX trader caught long the shekel in 70 A.D. was pretty bad. Imagine trying to offload that inventory onto retail:
"Masada Securities, a fortress of strength in these uncertain times..."Or something.
From Cracked Magazine:
Nothing in the world is more taken for granted than money -- our only concern is whether we have enough of it, not whether it will work at all. Nobody puts in ten hours of overtime and spends the whole time praying that by payday the grocery store will still accept the currency ... despite the fact that this exact situation has played out again and again. Money is a fragile thing, vulnerable to a whole lot of societal factors that you have no control over whatsoever. Which is why sometimes things just go completely insane ...HT: Uncommon Wisdom blog
#5. Hungary's 13,600,000,000,000,000 Percent Inflation
So you head down to the grocery store to get a box of Pop-Tarts for lunch, because you live alone and haven't flipped the page on your Dragonriders of Pern calendar in three months. When you get to the store, you realize you've left your wallet at home, so you have to put the Pop-Tarts back on the shelf and drive to your apartment to get it. By the time you make it back to buy your lunch, you see that the Pop-Tarts are twice as expensive as they were when you first got to the store an hour ago. At lunchtime the next day, they're five times as expensive. A month later, they cost more than your car.
"Sorry, ma'am, no cards. We only take sexual favors."
What? When Did This Happen?
The Hungarian economy experienced possibly the most catastrophic hyperinflation in history between 1945 and 1946, with inflation topping out at roughly 200 percent per day and prices doubling about every 15 hours.
How the hell did this happen? After being left in economic shambles after losing World War I, Hungary experienced a period of nasty inflation until the League of Nations bailed them out with a loan. The Hungarian korona was replaced by the gold-backed pengo, which for a time was the most stable currency in the region, despite sounding no less made up. However, the Great Depression punched Hungary's agriculture industry in the Hungonads, and this, combined with their willingness to print as much pengo as they damn well felt like, started the inflation train rolling. Eventually it would literally take a truckload of bills to buy a loaf of bread.
Gamma-Keystone via Getty
She's lighting that cigarette with a billion pengo note.Naturally, the government's response was to print even more money in larger and larger denominations, finally culminating with the 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 pengo note (imagine a hundred quintillion dollar bill).
Only the introduction of a new currency backed by gold, foreign currencies and foreign securities -- the forint -- broke the free fall. After that, there was only one thing left to do with the mountains of surplus pengo:
#4. Argentina Runs Out of Change, and Nobody Knows Why
So you walk into Big Lots to buy a wading pool and a jar of mayonnaise, and one of the cashiers stops you and tells you that they can't sell anything today. Assuming that you've been profiled, you stop at a small family-owned drugstore and try buying just the mayonnaise. You pay in cash, but instead of giving you your change, the kindly old proprietor scoots a jumbled pile of candy corn across the counter.
Fighting the urge to punch the senility out of his skull, you hurry outside to try and catch the bus downtown, but you don't have any coins to pay the fare. Noticing your plight, the bus driver offers to sell you the change you need ... for 20 bucks a quarter.
Juan Mabromata / Getty
These are made mostly of copper, but they're worth their weight in gold.
What? When Did This Happen?
Welcome to Argentina, where a few years ago they were plagued by a mysterious coin shortage. In the third-largest economy in Latin America, change was insanely difficult (if not flat-out impossible) to come by, for reasons that no one can seem to determine for certain. The Argentine government accused ordinary citizens of hoarding and even melting coins for their metal value, because evidently they believed that their citizens were trying to build the Iron Giant. The citizens blamed the government for not minting enough coins, despite the fact that the government had actually minted over 500 million new coins in 2008, only to see the shortage get even worse, like the entire nation was made up of nothing but sofa cushions.
"Ask for change, motherfucker. See what happens."
Commerce became a nightmare; with no coins to give to customers, big stores simply refused to sell anything to anybody, and smaller businesses literally handed out candy instead of coins for change, presumably because somebody once saw that work in a cartoon. Even the banks, which historically are places where money lives, refused to give out more than a few coins at a time, even under threat of heavy government fines (possibly because the fines were payable by bills and/or credit).
And yes, Buenos Aires' privately owned bus companies, which accepted only exact change for fare, would amass coins and then turn around and sell them for a profit, which if you think about it is the most perfect business plan anyone will ever create.
A government plan to implement an electronic card payment system was promised, but full deployment has been delayed for years, presumably because the citizens of Argentina are now hoarding all the plastic cards and building forts with them.
#3. Businesses Just Print Their Own Money During the Civil War
Let's say you're in a war-torn environment where government-backed currency has no value and you have to exchange your personal wealth for privately minted coins, such as Chuck E. Cheese's. You do all your business there -- eating, drinking, collecting trinkets to decorate the room above your parents' garage that you refer to in conversation as a "studio apartment." Over time, you've amassed a considerable private stock of tokens and tickets....MORE
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