Venezuela currency disintegrates

Venezuela's bolivar currency has depreciated an unprecedented 60 percent in a month against the U.S. dollar on the black market to trade at nearly 4,400 on Friday, according to the widely-tracked website DolarToday.

DolarToday had priced the greenback at 3,480 last Monday - up from 2,972 the weekend before, and 1,417 a month ago.That makes the largest-denomination note of 100 bolivars now worth about 2 U.S. cents in the crisis-hit OPEC nation.

Such is the currency chaos that Venezuelans often carry rucksacks full of cash for basic transactions, cashpoints are constantly running out, and some people are disparagingly using bolivar notes like scrap paper.

The bolivar's crash in recent days is the fastest depreciation on the black market since the ruling Socialists introduced currency controls in 2003 to limit the supply of dollars.

Chronic shortages over the last two years have eased slightly in recent months. But that is mainly due to goods imported at the black market rate, which puts them out of reach for most in a nation where the minimum wage is 27,000 bolivars or around $6 on DolarToday.