Wednesday, November 26, 2008

T.I.V. Tuesday

In January of this year, in response to a rise in inflation of over 20% in 2007, the Venezuelan government introduced a new currency called the "strong bolivar." The practical effect of this was that new bills and coins were circulated and all denominations lost three zeros (i.e. 80,000 bs. was now 80 bsf.) By the time we arrived in Caracas most of the old paper money had disappeared, but the old coins are everywhere, intermixed with the new making things a little confusing. Most businesses now list their prices in old and new terms, though many people have just refused to make the switch in conversation making it often impossible for me with my poor Spanish to understand how much anything costs without seeing the price in print. And stores often don't list prices anyway because inflation continues to be a substantial factor in the economy and prices tend to change daily, sometimes more than once on the same day. Grocery stores have price check devices throughout so consumers can verify prices on the day of purchase, though even then there is no guarantee the price will not have changed by the time you reach the checkout. But, I digress.

In addition to introducing new coins (pictured below)

the Chavez government also decided to revive the Venezuelan locha. The locha is rooted in Venezuela's colonial period and derived from the old Spanish "piece of eight" and was very popular again about 50 years ago. The locha is worth 12.5 cents.

Apparently, the Chavez govenment believes bringing the locha back will remind the people of times past when life was simpler and more stable. However, nothing is priced to reflect the revival of the coin and as merchants generally round up anyway, that 1/2 cent might as well not exist.

I know a 12 1/2 cent coin is not all that foreign of a concept, the American silver dollar is also based on the Spanish dollar because it was easily cut into 8 pieces or "bits." Maybe if our economy continues to falter we can expect to go back to the "bits" system in an effort to restore consumer confidence? Or, maybe not.

Note: The pictures I took of the coins didn't turn out well so I pulled these from World Coin News, a blog dedicated to the issuance of coins worldwide. It was surprising to me how frequently new coins are circulated.

16 comments:

Shelley said...

Hmmm Interesting... Sometimes a girl just needs a half? :)

Sandi said...

Somehow I don't think 1/2 cent will make me feel more confident in the economy

diane said...

12 1/2 cents? Who knew?!

alisa and sometimes brandon said...

I love TIV Tuesday. I am learning so much about Venezuela...for better or worse. ;)

Annemarie said...

That is crazy. And...your Spanish is NOT bad. I saw your comment on Jeni's blog. Whatever.

Days like These! said...

I would definitely be nervous shopping in a store where the prices change from the time I leave the shelf to the checkout counter!

Kristy said...

When I left my mission in Maracaibo 500 B's would buy us 1 dollar. It sounds like all my loose change I brought home won't get me very far, I think I still have some 10 B bills tool.

Paul

Jenibelle said...

Um, your spanish is about 8000 1/2 percent better than mine!!!

I am just so fascinated by all these other countries and traditions and problems...does it make America look good?

nicola & andrew said...

goodness, sounds like life over there is continuing to keep you on your toes! let us know if we can ship you over any essential goods - sugar, flour etc :)

IWA said...

I think the US should create a coin in the amount of 9/10 .... then we buy gas... we could give the perfect change! LOL!!! sorry .. I know that was lame!

stephanie said...

very educational. I am afraid I would be quite confused! 12 1/2 just seems really random.

terahreu said...

So interesting. How is Chavez going to fair in the elections? I haven't heard a thing.

Lauren in GA said...

Whoa!!! I had no idea...I would start crying...or frothing at the mouth if I had that much confusion to purchase things. Of course, I could just shrug and say to my husband, "I honestly didn't know it cost that much!!!"

I agree with Annemarie...I think your Spanish is great!

Cairo Typ0 said...

12 and a half, huh? Because sometimes paying 13 is a rip off and 12 doesn't seem like quite enough. LOL

Adrianne said...

Is that kind of like how everything is priced ending in 99 cents here, but ther eis no coin smaller than 5 cents??

Ilene said...

Okay, I can never live abroad. I can barely figure out the currency here.

 

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