Brazilian hyperinflation of 1990 was one of the worst episodes of hyperinflation recorded in Latin America, in recent times. Hyperinflation is a very serious economic problem. It destroys a countries economy and makes it difficult for people to buy goods and services, especially when they have no faith in the value of their money.
From 1987 – 1990, Brazil experienced consistent high inflation in the double digits. For a country to suffer from hyperinflation, the rate of inflation must be over 50% per month. In early 1990 they were in the range of 70-80%. The combination of high inflation and high interest rates led to an unstable economy that was prone to dramatic fluctuations in prices. The government printing money to pay for its debts led to an increase in the money supply and therefore higher prices. The causes of this crisis included poor fiscal policies, low foreign trade, high external debt, and weak monetary policy.
Hyperinflation is one of the worst economic disasters that can befall a country. It can destroy the economy and make life difficult for everyone in the country. The effects of this period were felt throughout Brazil and its people’s lives, and it served as a learning lesson for the government. However, for numismatists it can lead to some interesting banknotes. Let’s look at some of Brazilian hyperinflation banknotes. Starting in 1967 there were several different currency series printed and removed from circulation.
Brazilian Hyperinflation Banknotes
The Cruzeiro Novo (also known simply as Cruzeiro) circulated from 1967 – 1986. The Brazil 100 Cruzados from 1986 is a perfect of example of the outgoing Cruziero Novo and the newly introduced Cruzado. It was originally printed as 100,000 Cruzeiros and finally stamped over and redenominated as 100 Cruzados.
The following banknote family was the Cruzado which circulated from 1986 – 1990. A banknote from this series is the Brazil 100 Cruzados, 1987 ND. It’s design follows the same design as the previous Cruzeiro Novo with the exception of 3 zeros removed. Its obverse features Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliviera who was the 21st president of Brazil. An electric power station, plants, and highways are also visible. The reverse depicts plants and National Congress modern buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer namely the Senate building, twin office towers, and the Chamber of Deputies.
From 1989 – 1990 the Cruzado Novo circulated as the official currency of Brazil. A banknote from that series is the Brazil 5 Cruzados Novos, 1989 ND. It’s overprinted on the previous 5,000 Cruzados banknote series. It has a black triangular overprint reflecting the denominations in the cruzados novos. Its front bears the Tiradentes mural with a kneeling man holding a child and a woman standing with chains. It also features Brazilian painter Candido Torquato Portinari. The reverse depicts a paintbrush and a painting outline of a woman for Baianas mural of children and a horse by Candido Torquato Portinari.
Now the Cruzeiro circulated from 1990 – 1993. This would be the worst time for the Brazilian economy. The 500 Cruzeiros are overprinted on 500 Cruzados Novos and it has a black rectangular overprint that indicate the new denomination. The front design contains the black rectangular 500 CRUZEIROS overprint, a hummingbird, an orchid flower, and a portrait of the naturalist Augusto Ruschi. Its back design depicts a hummingbird near orchid flowers watching Augusto Ruschi examining plants in his garden.
The Cruzeiro Real circulated from 1993 – 1994. This was a very short-lived currency. Brazil 50,000 Cruzeiros Reais, 1994 ND. Its colored in shades of purple and its obverse side features a portrait of a Baina woman who is a descendant of African women. On the left hand side is a balangandan ornament used by Baina women. The reverse side features an image of the Baina woman preparing traditional food in front of the Basílica do Senhor do Bonfim.
Real – Present Currency
In 1994 the Real which is currently in circulation was introduced and it finally stuck enough to become a stable currency. Let’s look at one of the early designs, the green Brazil 1 Real features an effigy of Republica on its obverse side. It also shows the countrys Coat of Arms with laurels and stars as the notes registration device. On its vertical-oriented reverse are a Beija-flor or an Amazilia lactea hummingbird feeding its chicks in a nest.