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What country printed too much money?

Throughout history, many countries have struggled with printing too much paper currency. This can lead to hyperinflation, where prices rapidly increase and the value of the currency plummets. Some of the most extreme cases have seen prices double every few days, rendering the currency practically worthless. But what causes a country to print excessive amounts of money, and which countries have fallen victim to hyperinflation?

What causes excessive money printing?

There are a few key reasons why a government may resort to running the printing presses nonstop:

To pay off large debts

If a government takes on significant debts, either due to wartime spending, large public works projects, or chronic budget deficits, they may attempt to pay them off by simply printing more money. This floods the economy with extra currency, reducing its value.

To stimulate a weak economy

Some governments believe that increasing the money supply will stimulate an economy during a recession or depression. However, this rarely produces long-term benefits if the underlying economy remains weak.

To prevent economic collapse

In a financial crisis, governments may print money to bail out failing banks and businesses or pay government workers and pensioners. However, this only provides a short-term fix and often worsens the crisis.

Notable cases of hyperinflation

Some of the most dramatic hyperinflationary episodes in history include:

Weimar Germany

In the early 1920s, Germany suffered hyperinflation as it printed money to pay its massive World War I reparations. It peaked in 1923, with prices doubling every 3.7 days. It took 4.2 trillion marks to buy a single US dollar. People burned money for heat as it became worthless. Germany eventually introduced a new currency to end the hyperinflation.


In the late 2000s, Zimbabwe went through one of the worst hyperinflation crises ever recorded. At its height in mid-November 2008, prices were doubling every 1.3 days. The monthly inflation rate hit 79.6 billion percent. Zimbabwe had printed money excessively to pay debts and government salaries. Prices only stabilized when the Zimbabwe dollar was abandoned in 2009.


In recent years, Venezuela has experienced an economic meltdown fueled by excessive money printing. With government revenues collapsing due to falling oil prices, the central bank has printed enormous sums to cover deficits. In 2018, inflation hit 1.7 million percent, with prices doubling every 19 days on average. The country now uses US dollars as its de facto currency.


Argentina has gone through several bouts of hyperinflation due to mismanagement of its money supply. In 1989, prices rose by 3000% after too much money was printed to service debt. Inflation hit over 5000% in 1975. And a major crisis in 1989 saw prices double every 13 days on average.

Other notable hyperinflations

Here are some other major hyperinflations experienced around the world:


In the early 1940s during World War II, Greece suffered inflation of 8500% per month due to Italian and German occupation.


In 1947, China went through hyperinflation with prices rising by over 5000% per year, due to the government printing money to finance the civil war.


Peru experienced hyperinflation of over 12,000% in 1990 due to excessive money printing under President Alan Garcia.


During the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1993, the Yugoslav dinar collapsed after the central bank printed money to try and hold the country together. Inflation peaked at 313 million percent.


In 1993, Ukraine went through hyperinflation of over 10,000% due to government financing of debts and public enterprises through money printing after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

How countries recover from hyperinflation

It is very difficult to recover from a bout of hyperinflation. Policy options include:

Currency reform

Issuing a completely new currency, often called a “revaluation,” is the most direct way to end hyperinflation. This immediately resets the value and supply of the currency. Germany’s rentenmark in 1923 is a classic example.


Adopting a more stable foreign currency like the US dollar or euro as the official currency ends hyperinflation and restores stability, as happened in Zimbabwe, Ecuador, and Montenegro. However, the country then surrenders control over monetary policy.

Impose fiscal discipline

Balancing government budgets, cutting expenditures, and boosting revenues through tax reforms will remove the need to print money to fund deficits. But this requires political willpower.

Central bank independence

Preventing direct political interference in central banks and their money printing activities can help. But institutions and policies must be structured carefully to create true independence.

Recovering from hyperinflation is a long, difficult process, even after stability returns. The episodes leave lasting damage on economies and societies. Trust in institutions, banks, and currencies is shattered. Savings are wiped out. Poverty often increases.

So what lessons does this offer for policymakers? Moderation and fiscal prudence are key – excessive reliance on the printing press only sets economies up for disaster.


Hyperinflation episodes have occurred when countries printed excessive amounts of money to fund government spending, which spirals out of control quickly. This has happened in many countries over the past century, with some of the most severe cases occurring in Germany, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Argentina, and others. It leads to a rapid destruction of the value of the currency. Ending hyperinflation requires major reforms like issuing new currencies, dollarizing, imposing fiscal discipline, and granting central bank independence. The key lesson is that unrestrained money printing inevitably leads to economic calamity. Responsible monetary and fiscal policies are essential for economic stability and prosperity.