When Money Dies: In Venezuela, A Haircut Costs 5 Bananas And 2 Eggs

For Venezuela's economy, the ascent into socialist paradise did not turn out quite as planned: in fact, under the Maduro regime, the country with the world's biggest petroleum reserves somehow reversed course, and crashed through every single circle of economic hell, and now that its hyperinflation has hit levels that would make even Mugabe and Rudy von Havenstein blush, all that's left is barter.

And, as Fabiola Zerpa explains as part of Bloomberg's fascinating "Life in Caracas" series, i.e., watching economic and social collapse in real-time, in Venezuela, a haircut now costs 5 bananas and 2 eggs.

Read on for what really happens when money dies, coming to a banana monetary regime near you in the near future.

In Venezuela, a Haircut Costs 5 Bananas and 2 Eggs

The other day, I made a baguette-for-parking swap. It worked out brilliantly

I had time but, as usual, no bolivars. The attendant at the cash-only lot had some bills but no chance to leave his post during the fleeting moments the bakery nearby put his favorite bread on sale. The deal: He let me leave my car, and I came back with an extra loaf, acquired with my debit card. He reimbursed me—giving me a bonus of spare change for my pocket.

That’s how we make do in our collapsing economy. If somebody has lots of one thing and too little of another, an arrangement can be made. I’ve exchanged corn meal for rice with friends from high school, eggs for cooking oil with my sister-in-law. Street vendors barter, too, taking, say, a kilo of sugar as payment for one of flour. There are Facebook pages and chat-room groups devoted to the swap-ability of everything from toothpaste to baby formula.

Amid widespread food shortages, street vendors are selling small portions of groceries. Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

A barber in the countryside cuts hair for yuccas, bananas or eggs. Moto-taxi drivers will get you where you need to go for carton of cigarettes. The owners of one of my favorite Mexican restaurants offer a plate of burritos, enchiladas, tamal and tacos in return for a few packages of paper napkins. At a fast-food joint near my office, the guy working the register let me walk away with a carry-out order of chicken, rice and vegetables without paying the other day, relying on my promise to come back with the 800,000 bolivars.

Acting on that kind of trust was unheard of just a few years ago. Charity is also something new. I didn’t grow up with the traditions of canned-food drives and volunteerism that are common in the U.S. Now parents from my kids’ school collect clothes for the poor, and neighbors gather toys for a children’s hospital. My friend Lidia, a property-rights lawyer, delivers homemade soup to the homeless.

I like to think of all of this as a noble expression of solidarity, as evidence of the decency of my fellow caraquenos at a time of mind-numbing shortages of basic goods and exploding inflation. I know that in most cases the motivation is necessity, even desperation. But that’s all right. Handing that freshly baked baguette to the parking lot attendant made both of us smile, even if for just a second.

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For more true stories on daily life in Venezuela read:


brushhog cheka Sun, 05/06/2018 - 08:58 Permalink

Seems weird to see people buying haircuts in an economic collapse, lol. Years ago when my hair started getting thinner I bought a pair of electric clippers for 25 dollars and just buzzed it down to the nubs. I've now had the same pair of clippers for 10 years and I buzz my hair every 3 weeks or so....thats 150 haircuts a year or 1500 over ten years, 25/1500 is .016. That means I pay about a penny per haircut plus the cost of electric makes it probably about 5 cents per cut. And these idiots are trading good eggs and bananas for that??

In reply to by cheka

Theosebes Goodfellow FEDbuster Sun, 05/06/2018 - 13:42 Permalink

What's a haircut? It's been so long since I had one I may have forgotten. I take a razor to my head once a week and POOF!, I'm chrome-domed again.

But everyone seems to be missing the point, (even the author of the story). This story tells us that when the evils of totalitarian Marxism are complete, it is capitalism that reestablishes itself outside of government control. If that ain't a beautiful thing, I don't know what is. The author even points out that some of the side benefits of capitalism, (charity, thriftiness, adaptability, ingenuity, etc.), become prevalent.

In reply to by FEDbuster

crazzziecanuck silverer Sun, 05/06/2018 - 05:48 Permalink

Wait, so the fiat currency has been cut out completely by the actual population and people using actual items to determine true value in transactions?!  No banker middleman?!

It's.  About.  Fucking.  Time.

You can now see exactly why the banking and parasite classes in the Western world have such a fixation and hatred for Venezuela...

In reply to by silverer

Don in Odessa BlackChicken Sun, 05/06/2018 - 05:20 Permalink

Guess what folks this is every Society's end, We "evolve" from Democratic Republicanism, to Socialism, to Oligarchy, to Totalitarian, to Tyranny, or some similar path. Power always gets concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Eventually, it lands in the hands of the corrupt. The people are enslaved one way or another, many times without them even being aware of it until it's too late.

In reply to by BlackChicken

FEDbuster rockstone Sun, 05/06/2018 - 12:20 Permalink

I know silver and gold is doing well next door in Columbia.  Read an article that said gold mined in Venezuela is selling for half spot price if paid for in US dollars.  Trick is getting it out with out getting caught.  When people are starving, food is still the best barter item.

In reply to by rockstone

HRClinton Haboob Sat, 05/05/2018 - 22:05 Permalink

Looks like Venezuela is in the process of ridding itself of the (((fiat tick))), sucking its lifeblood.

To be free of the (((Fiat Plantation))), to whom so many dumb-ass 'Muricans have sworn their fielty and allegiance, you need to "Go Galt". You need to enter and stay in the PARALLEL ECONOMY (PE).

PE = DIY, Barter, Cash, PM, Crypto, Appreciating Assets*

   * RE, Art, Antiques, Collectibles

If you shun the (((Bankster fiat))), you do not owe rent, fees or dues on their fiat. Otherwise they are claiming that they literally "OWN" you like some kind of a "Financial Slave", by making claims on your non-fiat labor, and your possessions. The instant you go along with that in ANY way, you have admitted to that state of master/owner-slave relationship.

In reply to by Haboob

Kokito Haboob Sun, 05/06/2018 - 05:12 Permalink

Fabiola Zerpa is a member of far-right fascist oligarch opposition to the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. After Hugo Chavez became president (1999) she has been in a mission to discredit, delegitimize the bolivarian social revolution in Venezuela.


It is also true that Venezuela is suffering from a liquidity problem, the right-wing fascist mockingbird (((reporter))) Zerpa forgot to mention that the shortage of bills is due to the ongoing financial war against Venezuela & controlled by several transnational organized crime networks. This criminal network has two objectives "the first, extraction and theft of the monetary cone; and the second, imposition of criminal rates of the speculative dollar".


The government of Venezuela initiated “Operation Hands of Paper”, which consists of investigating and bringing to justice the operators of the ongoing financial war against Venezuela, as well as dismantling their infrastructure.

1.- As for the mafias that extract and smuggle paper money (bolivar), there are 125 raids and 1, 563 people investigated, of which 735 are natural, in the Táchira state.

2.- 828 private companies have been investigated, which handled financial transactions in the order of 20 billion bolivars through Venezuelan accounts in recent months.

3.- 149 arrest warrants, of which 28 people have been captured and placed at the order of justice. 121 are being investigated.

4·- 175 people have been arrested, part of mafias already identified.

5.- The executive authorized the blocking and freezing of 145 new bank accounts, of which "84% are Banesco's accounts".

6.- The apprehension of 11 directors of the financial institution of Escotet (banco banesco). These are: Oscar Doval, CEO; the vice-presidents Jesús Irausquín, Carlos Lorenzo, Pedro Pernia and Belinda Omaña; the legal consultant Marco Ortega. Other presumed implicated: the director Liz Sánchez; the managers David Romero and Cosme Betancourt; compliance officers Teresa De Prisco and Carmen Lorenzo.

7.- and finally Tyler Durden, you are a dumb MF & a stupid shit (who ever you are). Go fuck yourself.

In reply to by Haboob

BadSpybot 1033eruth Sun, 05/06/2018 - 08:29 Permalink

I agree. A silver coin may have a fiat vale of thousands, but the real world practical value is just a metal coin that someone needs to think about what can be traded for it's relative value. You might have millions in fiat value but maybe you'll be lucky to find someone who will trade you a silver coin for a three pound bag of flour. I do have some silver coins and a gold coin or two but I'm also stacking real stuff like canned peaches and beans.

In reply to by 1033eruth

RopeADope Sat, 05/05/2018 - 21:27 Permalink

I was wondering when the White Helmets would show up in Venezuela. Keep it up Fabiola, I am sure there is some CIA money for you in the future. Just remember to double your sales price, then double again, then double again. The CIA black budget is very hyperinflationary.