Venezuela introduces new banknotes amid soaring inflation
Venezuelans stood in long ATM lines Monday to take out new, larger-denominated bills that President Nicolas Maduro hopes will help stabilize the crisis-wracked economy.
Maduro last month said he would pull the most used bill, the 100-bolivar note, out of circulation, and replace it with new bills ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars. He then extended the deadline to stop using the 100-bolivar note several times because the larger-denominated bills had not yet arrived.
"I never thought I'd have such a big bill in my hands," Milena Molina, a 35-year-old sales clerk, said as she inspected crisp, new 500-bolivar notes she had just withdrawn. "But with the inflation we're suffering, the notes we had weren't worth anything and you always had to go around with huge packages of bills."
While the new denominations should make cash transactions easier the relief may be short-lived: the 20,000-bolivar note is worth less than $6 on the widely used black market, where Venezuelans turn when they can't purchase dollars at the tightly controlled official rate. With inflation forecast by the International Monetary Fund to hit four digits this year, few economists expect the currency to rebound any time soon.