The first time I saw the Zimbabwe 100 trillion dollar bill, I just had to have one. There was something exciting and fun about holding a banknote that said “Trillion” on it. How cool.
I still enjoy having that little piece of that history. But. As part of enjoying it I decided to learn how it came into existence. And it wasn’t printed because anyone was having fun. Inflation is a normal part of a healthy economy, but this kind of hyperinflation signals a hard time for a lot of people.
Only a handful of times in history have governments been desparate enough to print a single banknote of over a million units:
|Romania||2001-2005||1,000,000||LC BC WI|
|Free City of Danzig||1920||10,000,000,000||BC|
|Yugoslavia||1992-1994||500,000,000,000||IN BC EC WI|
|Germany||1923||100,000,000,000,000||BC IL BI|
|Zimbabwe||2008-2009||100,000,000,000,000||WI YT IN EC|
|Hungary||1945-1946||100,000,000,000,000,000,000||BC IN EC BW|
In some way, of course, all money is fake. It only has value because people believe it has value. Nothing will help make that more clear than holding a billion dollar bill in your hand.