Revenant's Bolivares Fuertes Notes

Set Type: Banco Central de Venezuela, 2000-2017 Issue, P84-100
Owner: Revenant
Last Modified: 3/9/2023
Views: 469

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Set Description:
The Bolivar was the currency of Venezuela for just short of 130 years, but it was not the original currency of the country. When it was introduced / created by the monetary law of 1879 it replaced the Venezolano (1872 – 1879) at an exchange rate of 5 Bolivares to 1 Venezolano.

The government of Hugo Chavez announced on 7 Mar 2007 that the Bolivar Fuerte (ISO Code VEF) would replace the Bolivar (ISO Code VEB) at an exchange rate of 1000 VEB to 1 VEF, “to facilitate the ease of transaction and accounting.” The new currency code was needed in part because the old currency would still be circulating for a while.

It is too easy to blame the death of the Bolivar and the hyperinflation in Venezuela on the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, the collapse in oil prices, the policies of Hugo Chavez, and the new government under the Constitution of 1999. Venezuela had never been stable. It had gone through several military dictators, several democratic governments and several coups and attempted coups. Political instability does not generally lead to currency stability or economic prosperity. The country was making 50,000 Bolivares denominated notes in 1998, and that was not just Chavez’s fault.

“Bolivar Fuerte” literally translates to “Strong Bolivar” in English. This would seem to be insanely ironic given that this currency change had to happen because the Bolivar was anything but strong and because in the US you hear people refer to “Strong Dollar” policies, meaning policies that are meant to protect or raise the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. However, the name is also a reference to an old coin called a “Peso Fuerte,” what was worth 10 Spanish Reales.

Through most of its life the Bolivar Fuerte was officially pegged to the US dollar, but the value on the black market was pretty much always lower than the official rate and the official rate changed several times as the government repeatedly devalued it. When the Bolivar Fuerte launched on 1 January 2008 the exchange rate was 2.15 BsF to 1 USD. Two years later, on 8 January 2010, it was devalued to 2.6-4.3 BsF to 1 USD, depending on what you were buying. On 1 January 2011, it became 4.3 BsF to 1 USD for everything. On 13 February 2013 it became 6.3 BsF to 1 USD – the parallel exchange rate, which is illegal to publish in Venezuela, was 20 VEF:1 USD at this time. On 18 February 2016, new President Maduro made it 10 BsF per 1 USD – the parallel rate was 1000 VEF to 1 USD at that time according to “DolarToday.”

The Bolivar Fuerte officially entered hyperinflation in November 2016. On January 26, 2018 the government admitted the truth, retired the 10:1 exchange rate with the US dollar and devalued the currency by 99.6%, making it 25,000 BsF to 1 USD – making it the 2nd least valuable circulating currency, ahead of the Iranian rial. But, according to informal, black-market rates, it was the lowest.

None of that sounds like a “strong” Bolivar.

The government announced the coming of the Bolivar Soberano (“Sovereign Bolivar”) on 22 Mar 2018. The switch over was supposed to happen on 4 Jun 2018 at an exchange rate of 1000:1, but the change was delayed to 1 Aug 2018 with a new exchange rate of 100,000:1, because, yes, in hyperinflation, things get that much worse that quickly. The official exchange rate hit 248,832 VEF to 1 USD on 10 August 2018 and 4,010,000 VEF/USD on 13 Aug 2018

The Bolivar Fuertes lived for a little over 10 years – which, I suppose, in fairness, is a lot more than you can say for the Zimbabwean 2nd dollar, or 3rd dollar, or 4th dollar, or RTGS dollar. In both cases though, redenominations do not seem to do much to make people more confident in and trusting of the currency and the central banks.

It really is scary just how much all of this “rhymes” historically with what happened in Zimbabwe… the first redenomination was 1000:1, the 2nd redenomination was bigger than the first, the last letter of the ISO currency code changed every time…

1,000 Bolivares (Bs, ISO Code VEB) = 1 Bolivar Fuerte (BsF, ISO Code VEF)
100,000 Bolivares Fuertes (BsF, ISO Code VEF) = 1 Bolivar Soberano (BsS, ISO Code VES).
Slot DescriptionGradeCert NumberScore
5,000 Bolivares 2000-01 Issue P84  No Note
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10,000 Bolivares 2000-01 Issue P85  No Note
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20,000 Bolivares 2000-01 Issue P86  No Note
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50,000 Bolivares 2000-01 Issue P87  No Note
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2 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P8867 EPQ 2506666-072 45
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5 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P8967 EPQ 8046637-009 45
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10 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9067 EPQ 8046596-003 45
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20 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9168 EPQ 8085715-052 106
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50 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9266 EPQ 8047658-017 135
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100 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9368 EPQ 8077102-070 295
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500 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9467 EPQ 8046875-079 395
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1,000 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9567 EPQ 1740967-062 41
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2,000 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9668 EPQ 1740966-075 106
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5,000 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9767 EPQ 1740971-059 135
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10,000 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P9866 EPQ 1741802-106 194
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20,000 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P99  No Note
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100,000 Bolivares 2007-2017 Issue P10066 EPQ 8076118-022 320
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