The most important hyperinflations in modern history
Steve Hanke and Nicholas Krus (both at John Hopkins University) have just published a very interesting working paper at CATO Institute, “World Hyperinflations”, (See here: http://www.cato.org/publications/working-paper/world-hyperinflations) which will be a chapter in Randall Parker and Robert Whaples (eds.) The Handbook of Major Events in Economic History, London: Routledge Publishing. (expected, Summer 2013).
Here is the abstract of their paper:
“This chapter supplies, for the first time, a table that contains all 56 episodes of hyperinflation, including several which had previously gone unreported. The Hyperinflation Table is compiled in a systematic and uniform way. Most importantly, it meets the replicability test. It utilizes clean and consistent inflation metrics, indicates the start and end dates of each episode, identifies the month of peak hyperinflation, and signifies the currency that was in circulation, as well as the method used to calculate inflation rates.”
It is a very much interesting and indeed an arduous work. They use very extensive and detailed empirical sources and evidence to collect the 56 major episodes of hyperinflation along the 20th century in a single table. Just with a very quick look at the table, everyone can notice how easy inflations and, especially, hyperinflations can deteriorate the purchasing power of money in few months, even in just days or few hours under the worst circumstances. This is a key lesson for policy-makers to draw from our recent monetary history; a lesson that should never be left aside.
PS. See the full version of their paper here: http://www.cato.org/pubs/researchnotes/WorkingPaper-8.pdf