The Value of a Dollar

You might have had trouble making change in postwar Hungary — the national currency, the pengo, was plunging so quickly in value that prices doubled every 15 hours.

To simplify calculations, the government eventually introduced a banknote worth 100 quintillion pengo. It was worth 20 American cents.

Things only got worse. By July 1946, the monthly inflation rate had reached 41,900,000,000,000,000 percent, and, unbelievably, the combined value of all Hungarian banknotes equaled one-thousandth of a U.S. dollar.

In desperation the government gave up and introduced a new currency, the forint. In the end you could get 1 new forint by trading in 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (400 octillion) pengo.

That’s the all-time record for hyperinflation — but modern Zimbabwe is not far behind. In fact, because Hungary couldn’t fit all 20 zeroes on that banknote, the 2006 Zimbabwean bill below holds the record for depicted zeroes on a national currency.$100_trillion_2009_Obverse.jpg