A Thousand Pictures Is Worth One Word: Worthless

Tyler Durden's picture

Jeff Clark of Casey Research has created a wonderful historical "art" album which addresses the number one question which most people living in the US right now are unable to fathom: how can one's currency go from X to 0. It is impossible. It certainly can not happen to the dollar. Right? Well, as Jeff says: "History has a message for us: No fiat currency has lasted forever. Eventually, they all fail. You might suspect this happened only to third world countries. You’d be wrong. There was no discrimination as to the size or perceived stability of a nation’s economy; if the leaders abused their currency, the country paid the price." We may add one other thing: no country in the history of the world has imploded from hyperdeflation. Not one. At the point where the debt load was insurmountable and not enough cash flow was being generated to sustain it, the authorities would always find a way to step in and be the terminal source of dilutive fiat demand: from ancient Rome, to Weimar, to the collapse of the Soviet Block, to, inevitably, the unwind of the failed (neo) Keynesian model, where we are right about now. Sure, we can all come up with goalseeked theories that validate our perspective but they are all meaningless at the end. Past a given threshold debt money ceases to function as backed by the full "faith and credit" of the backstopper and is nothing but paper. Yes. Even the abstract concept of so-called "reserve" currencies. Quote Clark: "As you scroll through the currencies below, you’ll see some long-ago casualties. What’s shocking, though, is how many have occurred in our lifetime. You might count how many currencies have failed since you’ve been born." There are many more where these came from. Thousands in fact. Which brings us to the title of this post. What are all these images, which is really all they are now - fancy paperweights (no pun intended) from near and far history, worth now? Precisely.


Yugoslavia – 10 billion dinar, 1993

Zaire – 5 million zaires, 1992

Venezuela – 10,000 bolívares, 2002

Ukraine – 10,000 karbovantsiv, 1995

Turkey – 5 million lira, 1997

Russia – 10,000 rubles, 1992

Romania – 50,000 lei, 2001

Central Bank of China – 10,000 CGU, 1947

Peru – 100,000 intis, 1989

Nicaragua – 10 million córdobas, 1990

Hungary – 10 million pengo, 1945

Greece – 25,000 drachmas, 1943

Germany – 1 billion mark, 1923

Georgia – 1 million laris, 1994

France – 5 livres, 1793

Chile – 10,000 pesos, 1975

Brazil – 500 cruzeiros reais, 1993

Bosnia – 100 million dinar, 1993

Bolivia – 5 million pesos bolivianos, 1985

Belarus – 100,000 rubles, 1996

Argentina – 10,000 pesos argentinos, 1985

Angola – 500,000 kwanzas reajustados, 1995

Zimbabwe – 100 trillion dollars, 2006

Clark concludes:

So, will a similar fate befall the U.S. dollar? The common denominator that led to the downfall of each currency above was the two big Ds: Debts and Deficits.

With that in mind, consider the following:

Morgan Stanley reported in 2009 that there’s “no historical precedent” for an economy that exceeds a 250% debt-to-GDP ratio without experiencing some sort of financial crisis or high inflation. Our total debt now exceeds GDP by roughly 400%.

Investment legend Marc Faber reports that once a country’s payments on debt exceed 30% of tax revenue, the currency is “done for.” On our current path, analyst Michael Murphy projects we’ll hit that figure by October.

Peter Bernholz, the leading expert on hyperinflation, states unequivocally that “hyperinflation is caused by government budget deficits.” This year’s U.S. budget deficit will end up being $1.5 trillion, an amount never before seen in history.

Since the Federal Reserve’s creation in 1913, the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power. Our government leaders clearly don’t know how – or don’t wish – to keep the currency strong.

Whether the dollar goes to zero or merely becomes a second-class currency in the global arena, the possibility of the greenback being added to the above list grows every day. And this will lead to serious and painful consequences in our standard of living. While money is only one of many problems we’ll have to deal with, you can protect your assets with the one currency that can’t be debased, devalued, or destroyed by irresponsible leaders.

Because when it comes to money, worthless is not a fun word.

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Mongo's picture

Now... where is the US dollar?

Pladizow's picture

Its not worth its own digital image to list!

Almost Solvent's picture

The FED should just deposit the 100 trillion dollar note and credit it to the Treasury.

That should take care of it.

AldousHuxley's picture

That is exactly what they are doing. Trying to cure debt and financial mismanagement with inflation.

ViewfromUndertheBridge's picture

A good comment...but, when you printed it again, it became half as good.

max2205's picture

If the Zimab Note had four rocks on it, how much would it be worth... (hint, big bag of suck)

I think I need to buy a gun's picture

i saw a special on cnbc.....bernanke got a 1590 on his sat's so im confident that won't happen here


look at some of the coloring its so pretty though

Anonymouse's picture

I'm just wondering when that 15 minutes starts.  Perhaps Bernanke's watch is broken...

Urban Redneck's picture

So did I, and the last time I took them was my sophomore year in high school.  I missed fewer (no) questions on my ASVAB, which is a far more practical exam for determining capacity in the real world.  Perhaps Bernanke should take his confidence back to his ivy league ivory tower and GTFU of DC.  Tests don’t mean shit once you get into the real world.

55 men's picture

The comment coming soon to the U.S.... NOT WORTH A DOLLAR!

AldousHuxley's picture

not coming soon...it is here already. US IS BANKRUPTED ALREADY. Symptoms are already apparent


from Wikipedia's article on national bankruptcy...

Consequences for the citizen

National bankruptcy always means for the private citizen a dramatic devaluation of his monetary wealth, because the private/individual saver is often an important creditor of the state (e.g. government bonds).

More severe is the impact on the national economy. These comprise typically

  • a banking crisis, as banks have to make write downs on credits given to the state. CHECK
  • an economic crisis, as the interior demand will fall and investors withdraw their money CHECK
  • a currency crisis as foreign investors avoid this national economy CHECK

The citizen feels the impact indirectly through high unemployment CHECK and the decrease of state services and benefits. CHECK






navy62802's picture

The Bernanke testimony cited in that article is a perfect example of cognitive dissonance.

Mike2756's picture

1 more rally as the EU implodes first? Then it will be time to go all in on the pm's.

trav7777's picture

dollar is coming soon to a list near you.

Brazil is a HUGE country with a gigantic economy...they're on their 3rd currency in the past 20 years or so.  All these nations had debt money...every single one.

I'm not sure where the Mishes and Douchingers get the idea that debtmoney nations can't implode.  Something maybe "special" supposedly about the reserve?  FX makes the notion of foreign-denominated debt irrelevant.  Perhaps the reserve will have a less abrupt slide to that same spot, but it's coming anyway.

The future of less means all debts now must be discounted.  In any event, should this "hyperdeflation" come, the FRN would lose its ability, via scarcity, to serve as money.  It would revert to just being paper.  The USSR also did not have external debt denominated in others' currencies.  The ruble still went to bagel.

MiguelitoRaton's picture

Where is the US Continental? My less intelligent friends always cling to the "Yes, but America would never do that!"

hedgeless_horseman's picture

This 1775 seven dollar note is typical of the paper money issued by the Continental Congress to pay for the costs of the American Revolution. Due to over-issue and lack of confidence in the government, the notes became nearly worthless. Eventually, Congress redeemed them at 1/100th of their original value in bonds, not maturing until 1811. Image courtesy of EarlyAmerican.com 



Spigot's picture

The Continental Dollar dropped to 1/16500th of a troy ounce of gold, or the price of gold "increased" to $16,500 Continental Dollars before the currency was terminated.

Newsboy's picture

The English massively and expertly counterfeited the "Continental", largely leading to it's ignominious fate.

Financial warfare.

Cleanclog's picture

Everyone start growing your hair long now.  Save money on hairdressers and barbers . . . while you prepare for the haircut that the US $ will extract.

OldTrooper's picture

Or you could just get some pre-65 coins...some barbers will still take a fifty cent piece for their services.

MissCellany's picture

And let's not forget the Confederate Dollar...it made good wallpaper for Mammy's attic bedroom at Tara in Gone With the Wind...

HoofHearted's picture

Can you scan a $100 FRN and add it to the pictures above? Or maybe an older $500 or $1000....

Smiley's picture

I have some of those $100T Zimbabwe bills.  Hilarious. 


"You hear that Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of inevitability.  It is the sound of your death."

pupton's picture

I was thinking how the Trillion+ Zimbabwe bills might still have some value as a novelty.  I'd pay $5 US for one of them just to have to look at/show off.  Heck, that might be a decent Forex play if things don't pan out here...Where can I get one?

Smiley's picture

I get em at coin shows for $5 each with my leftover scratch money after I buy the gold and silver I budgeted for.  I put a few in plastic display cases, they make GREAT gifts and everyone I give one to displays it prominently in their house or office; it makes me feel good when people show off something I gave em.

sdmjake's picture

they are available on eBay. {you can get a dozen for a few bucks}

Manbarepig's picture

Got mine on eBay, cost me about $3-4

pupton's picture

Done.  I just electronically exchaned 3.9 of my worthless American Dollars for 100 trillion awesome "Kill Whitey" dollars!  That shit is pretty sad, too.  Their bill features a pile of rocks...WTF is that???  At least we put dead presidents on our paper.  I can't wait to frame that mofo and hang it on the wall in my office.  I'll have an empty frame up next to it..........

cossack55's picture

That is because the pile of rocks is worth more than dead presidents.  I have embossed labels made "In case of emergency----break glass" and afix to the frame. Great gifts all seem to get a kick out of.  Last Xmas I used Weimar bills, next Xmas looking at 1946 Hungarian.

IAmNotMark's picture

Hey!  Those are NICE rocks!


IAmNotMark's picture

Hey!  Those are NICE rocks!


Al Gorerhythm's picture

That pile of rocks is the Zimbabwe national monument. It's all they could afford.

Bananamerican's picture

reminds me of this...


That 100 trill zimbab note would buy you an egg right before it went kaput in 2009...guess what they replaced it with?

zhandax's picture

I'd pay $5 US for one of them just to have to look at/show off.

Funny how the cash market works....when the $100,000,000,000,000 note would still buy a cab ride in Harare, I bought 20 new ones on eBay for $2o.  I keep one in my wallet to show the disbelievers.

PulauHantu29's picture

I have a few of the Zimbabwe notes...They are great! Too bad the gubberment took the $1000 and $500 out of circulation...they would be a Hoot.

Sabibaby's picture

Shhh..... The guy at 7-11 doesn't know....

goldm3mb3r's picture

I like the one with Barton Fink on it.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

All that pretty fiat paper looks much better, and immensely more valuable, while under the influence of a few hits of blotter acid and some fiat crack cocaine.

Peace baby.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Where's the $10,000 USD bill with a smiling Soetoro portrait?

LeBalance's picture

dude!  We want the Fuckin' Wingnuts WB7 image of Barry Soe on our $!!!  Glasses and Fro'do!

zhandax's picture

All that pretty fiat paper looks much better, and immensely more valuable, while under the influence of a few hits of blotter

Trade you Z$100,000,000,000,000 for hit of blotter?

MonsterZero's picture

I think Ben just wants his picture and autograph on the 10 trillion dollar bill.

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

How 'bout a direct overhead shot of his bald noggin to fill the space of the final zero in 10T?