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Ridiculous Exchange Rates

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"They're saying starting next year we're gonna have to start paying our taxes in gold. You know your money's bad when the people who print it don't want it."
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballanote 

What happens when you combine Acceptable Targets and the classic fascination tourists have with foreign currency? This trope, of course.

Jokes about the worthlessness of Ruritanian currency are a comedy staple. Sadly, with the advent of the Euro and the retirement of the Italian lira, some favorite targets have gone. Other currencies lost include the Belgian Franc and the Slovene tolar.

Fortunately for comedians, there are always more countries competing to have the most absurd exchange rates. Or the highest number of zeroes after that first 1.

However, jokes where a small amount of American currency makes a tourist one of the wealthiest people in the country are a serious case of Artistic License – Economics.

See also Ridiculous Future Inflation. Not to be confused with money printed via counterfeiting, which is sometimes referred to as "funny money".



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, Germany is in a lot of debt to France and all his money is worthless. So Germany gets Italy to make cuckoo clocks for him, and pays him to do so. Italy is thrilled to receive all this money, even though he knows it's worth less than the paper it's printed on.
  • In One Piece, Luffy and his fellow Straw Hats enter Skypiea, a nation ten thousand meters in the air. The Skypieans use the "extol", which is fixed at 10,000 to the beli, the usual currency on the Grand Line. Usopp takes advantage of the ignorance Skypieans have about the relative prices of goods in the different currencies to be able to get away with trading rubber bands for "Dials", which are manufactured for different purposes (for example, a Tone Dial records and plays back voices). In a scene early in the Skypiea arc, Gan Fall states that he charges five million extols when he gets called by a device he leaves with the Straw Hats. It sounds like a huge amount until later on the characters are informed of the exchange rate; he was effectively charging only 500 beli.

  • When the New Zealand dollar was going really strong a little while ago, the morning news made some jokes like this at the expense of the U.S. dollar... even though the NZ dollar was still only about 85 U.S. cents.
  • Since the British pound sterling is one of the largest units of currency in the world, jokes like this come up from time to time in British comedy, along the lines of, "I know a couple of people who just made $100 million US, which I think, if I've done the maths correctly, is roundabout £7.50".
    • As of the 2007 financial crisis, this was inverted to jokes about being 1:1 with the euro and US dollar.
  • A show called Goodness Gracious Me (about Indian immigrants in Britain) included "The Six Million Rupee Man".
    "We can rebuild him. We have the technology: we just don't have the ideal exchange rate."
  • Australian comedian Adam Hills often jokes about the Barmy Army taunting Australian cricket fans in a bar in Newcastle by singing, "We get three dollars to the pound!"
    "When you're heckling the exchange rate, that's creative!"
  • One comedian's bit on pesos: "I love shopping in Mexico. It's like a giant dollar store. At what point does your money become so worthless that you just say 'Okay, we have to go back to trading chickens; this just isn't working.'"
  • The Canadian dollar was the butt of jokes back when the exchange rate was particularly abysmal. For instance, comedian Simon Cotter recounts his first time travelling as a Canadian citizen after moving there from the US.
    Cotter: On a trip to Mexico, they gave us all Canadian flag pins and told us to wear them everywhere. They never did that in America. They never said, "Hey, you're going to another country. Wear an American flag pin!" It made me feel so patriotic, until they explained to me, "We gave that to you because Mexicans prefer to rob Americans, and this lets them you you aren't American." And my first thought was, "Oh, that's really clever." But my second thought was, "Oh my God... how bad is the Canadian dollar? You can't even get robbed in Mexico!"
  • Comedian Arj Barker on a trip to South Africa:
    Barker: When I was in South Africa, I learned something. I learned that if you live in a crappy economy, that's terrible... but if you're just visiting a crappy economy for a couple of days, it's awesome. I was listening to the radio and the guy said "...And the South African Rand has slipped another 30% on the dollar today!" ...But that's not what I heard. What I heard was, "BIG SALE TODAY! 30% OFF FREAKIN' EVERYTHING! ALL WOODEN HIPPO STATUETTES AND SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS MUST GO! IT'S CRAZY SOUTH AFRICAN DOLLAR DAYS!"

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of Will Eisner's The Spirit, The Spirit's sidekick Ebony White travels to a desert kingdom to sell a valuable jewel. In exchange, he receives one billion of that country's currency. When he gets back home, he discovers the exchange rate for all that money is about 1.25¢. He promptly spends it all on hot dogs and ice cream at a local diner.
  • One Don Rosa Donald Duck story featured a wanted poster citing a reward of "one bajillion pecos ($20)".
  • "Awful Flight", a Funny Animal parody of the Canadian supehero team Alpha Flight that appeared in an issue of The Spectacular Spider-Ham back in The '80s, has one of the team excitedly point out a dollar on the ground. When the others ask what the big deal is, he explains that it's a US dollar! They're rich!
  • In one of the Richie Rich adventures, a would-be revolutionary in an unnamed Eastern-ish European country accidentally sets off his superweapon and levels an enormous swath of the country (luckily, Nobody Can Die, or even get hurt beyond scrapes and comically shredded clothes). As the leaders wail that it will cost billions to rebuild, Richie asks how much that is, to which his local companion says, "About 23 dollars." Richie promptly pulls a stack of bills from his pocket and everyone rejoices.
  • The Italian series Gli Aristocratici once made a jab at the Turkish Lira (pre-2005, thus before it was revalued, see below). What makes it painful is that the currency the Turkish Lira was compared to was the Italian Lira, itself a frequent target of such jokes that at the time just happened to be worth about eight times the Turkish currency.
  • Marjane's mother is described in Persepolis as having issues with the way the prices are rising in the 1980s Iran.
  • In one arc of The Tick, Tick and Arthur go adventuring an a fictional African nation called Van Buria (founded by US President Martin Van Buren) and come back with a briefcase full of local currency. It turns out to be worth $8 US.
  • In the last issue of Sonic Universe, the Chaotix Detective Agency receives a large reward of Meropan Sand Dollars for successfully solving a case. As they eventually find out, though, Meropan Sand Dollars have such a miserable exchange rate that the reward is effectively worthless.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot used this: Jason gets paid $10, adds it to the money he had under his mattress, and announces that he's a millionaire (in Turkish lira). He spends the rest of the week running around acting like a stereotypical rich guy, reverting back to his normal self after he spends his money ("Wow, five whole comic books," snarks Peter).
  • Dilbert has the fictional country of Elbonia, where someone wanted to buy something, and asked if "this" was enough, however much he actually had. The reply was something along the lines of "a minute ago, yes, but now it costs a hundred times more". The inflation rate has risen to one billion percent in these strips, daily.
  • In one strip of Piranha Club (back when it was Ernie) sleazy con man Sid Fernwilter tries to pay with various rather obviously phony credit cards; the proprietor of the store refuses. He wants to write a check; the proprietor, who knows Sid's reputation, refuses. Finally Sid asks if the proprietor would except "cold hard cash" and confirms that this is "actual money". The proprietor accepts... and is paid in 30000 "Irkutskian Slobotniks".

    Films — Animated 
  • Toy Story 2 hilariously inverts the trope when Al organizes shipping his Woody's Roundup toy collection to Japan over the phone and gets a quote on the price:
    Al: That's in yen, right? What? DOLLARS?!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In ¡Three Amigos!, Carmen promises to pay the titular Amigos 100,000 pesos for their help. Not only does the village not have anywhere near enough money to pay them, but even if they did it would still be worth only about five dollars US.
  • In Euro Trip, the characters make it to Slovakia by accident and find they only have $1.83 US on them — which, apparently, makes them close to being millionaires and grants them access to a lavish hotel room. (Naturally, this joke doesn't work anymore since Slovakia adopted the euro.)
  • In Canadian Bacon, Bud (John Candy) and co. get pulled over for driving a truck covered in Canadian insult graffiti written in English, but not French. The fine is $1,000 Canadian, or $10 American... and they have to add the French translations to the truck.
  • The film version of The Dukes of Hazzard has this exchange between the Dukes and a college kid they've suckered into analyzing a core sample they've given him: "How does 24,000 yen a year sound?" "Sounds like 40 bucks." It's actually about $240.
  • Street Fighter: Two of Bison's mooks steal a safe-full of his money, only to find out that it's just worthless notes with Bison's face on them (presumably to be made official currency after he conquers the world). Each Bison Dollar shall be worth 5 British Pounds. For that is the exchange rate the Bank of England will set once he kidnaps their queen!
  • In The Icicle Thief, a time-traveler innocently puts ten thousand lire into a collection for a wedding gift circa 1948, bringing him under suspicion both for the amount and because it's a note from 1989.

  • Discworld:
    • In The Fifth Elephant, Wolfgang von Uberwald mentions that the winner of a deadly contest gets the considerable sum of four hundred crowns. Our hero, Commander Vimes, determined to show no fear, sneers: "What is that in Ankh-Morpork dollars, do you know? About a dollar fifty?"
    • A justified example can be found in The Colour of Magic. Twoflower comes from a land where gold is about as valuable as lead, and the gold coins he's using as money are supposed to be fiat currency (later books revealed it's backed by silver). As a result what he thinks is enough travel money for a few weeks visiting Ankh-Morpork has enough value locally to purchase half the city outright. He never actually figures this out, and continues to tip people more than the value of a house.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast it notes that the alternate-future U.S. went through a huge hyperinflation, and one New Dollar is worth 1,000 "old" dollars. Except that 1000-times redenominations are dime a dozen and don't mean that there was any huge hyperinflation, just a pretty ordinary one. Serious hyperinflation starts when your currency devalues by a billion times, and doesn't hit the "huge" mark until you get to Weimar Republic level.
  • In an Older Than Radio moment Mark Twain, in The Innocents Abroad, was on a cruise that stopped at the Azores, where many of the passengers went ashore to a restaurant. Clearly not having been adequately briefed on the concept of exchange rates, when the bill was presented for "24,000 reis" for cigars, and "18,000 reis" for wine, and so on, the passenger who had offered to pay paled in horror, gave the proprietor of the place $150 in gold, and informed him that he will pay no more. The proprietor had to go and get someone else to translate the amounts of local currency to dollars before the situation stabilized — at a price amounted to about $21.
  • In Snow Crash, most world currencies are exchangeable, with the exception of Federal Reserve Notes, which are used pretty much exclusively by employees of the almost-defunct US Government and considered effectively worthless by everyone else. The remains of the US government draft a memo to prevent old billion-dollar bills from being used as toilet paper, because a single square of toilet paper is worth more more than a $1bn bill.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Warrior's Apprentice, the protagonist, Miles Vorkosigan, is horrified to learn he's being paid in millifenigs. They are described as making "an eye-catching toilet paper"' and their value is tacitly confirmed when the Felician paymaster doesn't bother to get a receipt from Miles for a pallet of banknote bundles. 'Millifenig' becomes a swear word within a page of their introduction. After Miles wins the war he was hired to fight, millifenigs begin to be traded again, at about a tenth their prewar rate.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    The Guide: In fact there are three freely convertible currencies in the Galaxy, but none of them count. The Altairian Dollar has recently collapsed, the Flainian Pobble Bead is only exchangeable for other Flainian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems.note  Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination.
This is also some Self-Deprecating Humor, since the Galactibanks are the products of Douglas Adams' imagination.
  • Another bit in Life, the Universe and Everything has the survivors of a colony ship crash (who were deemed a completely useless chunk of another planet's population) have a fiscal policy update at their staff meeting. They note that since they have chosen the leaf as their form of currency, everyone is extremely rich. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a bit of inflation, with current exchange rates being three decidious forests per ship's peanut. The proposed solution is a massive deforestation campaign to increase the value of currently held leaves.
  • In the Timeline-191 series, the Confederate States of America win the Civil War and remain their own country, but then lose the world's equivalent of World War I. This causes Confederate banknotes to rapidly decrease in value, to the point where people have to race to spend any money they get their hands on before prices rise again. It takes a few years to get the economy under control again, by which time the banks had started printing one billion dollar notes (now rendered worthless themselves by federal decree, not that anyone would be able to give change for them anyway). At one point in the economic collapse, the Hitler Expy jokes about it at a political rally by saying "Bet you a million dollars", then taking a million dollar bill out of his pocket and throwing it away.
  • Parodied in Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need, according to which the exchange rate for Italian currency is "1,000,000,000,000,000 lire = Nothing."
  • In Broken Angels Sanction IV's economy is so bad, on account of the nuclear civil war going on, that their Standard Archaeological Find Token (saft) exchanges with the UN Protectorate dollar on a 230 to 1 basis. Kovacs gets a bit riled up when a crime boss offers just five million for a spaceship he'd just stolen, and even more when he says that was in saft, not dollars.
  • The Guns of the South highlights the discrepancy in value between the Confederate paper dollar and the gold dollar.
    • One of the things that baffles the Confederates about the Rivington Men is their insistence on the equal value of Confederate paper money and gold, something even the staunchest Confederate fire-eater won't. This includes charging fifty dollars in paper for a repeating rifle. Fifty gold dollars is a reasonable price for a high-end off-the-shelf rifle, but fifty paper dollars might not be enough for a pocket knife.
      • It is implied (while never stated outright) that the time-travelers might be taking the Confederate bills back to their own time and selling them to collectors, thus recouping their value (and perhaps more, since the bills are in new or nearly-new condition.) And, as they hail from South Africa, gold is readily available to them.
    • Earlier in the narrative, Nate spends a gold dollar in a tavern, which gets him a quart of whiskey, a room for the night, a cooked breakfast for two and (most importantly in this context) ten dollars in paper in change.
    • Later on, Nate goes to buy a hat, and ends up paying ten dollars in paper for it. He notes that he could have paid a dollar and some change in silver instead, but that no-one spends metal money unless they absolutely have to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Renford Rejects featured a joke about the Italian lira.
    "I've just won 10,000 lira!" "That's £3.50".
  • In an episode of Family Matters, Waldo is sent to prison in the fictional country of "Santo Porto" for trying to steal treasured artifact: A cheesy "I Heart Santo Porto" salsa bowl, technically the oldest bowl in the country. Carl and Urkel spend the episode trying to break Waldo out of jail until they're told that his bail is only $30 in US currency.
  • In An American in Canada, the titular character is mocking the strength of the Canadian dollar by giving the bartender an American twenty and getting back a Canadian twenty and a Canadian beer, as his Canadian friend watches. Of course, being an American, he does not realize that there is more alcohol in the beer, so he immediately passes out.
  • An episode of Breaker High (a high school on a cruise ship) took the cast to a far off country in Africa or something. Two characters eventually get conned out of thousands of dollars by a shady business man saying the smallest amount of money he has is 1,000,000. It eventually turns out to be worth $7.50 US.
  • Inverted in an episode of Cheers: Frasier tips a bellhop the equivalent of $100 US because he's overestimated the exchange rate. Soon the entire staff of the hotel shows up hoping for extravagant tips.
  • Friends also jokes about the Italian lira. After Monica's new rich boyfriend Pete invites her for Italian food and then takes her to a restaurant in Italy, she insists on paying for the meal. He advises her to "throw another thousand on that" because so far she's paid "about 60 cents".
  • Played with in the Top Gear Vietnam special, where the presenters were sent to Vietnam and given 15 million đồng to buy a vehicle (complete with said đồng being delivered to them in shoe boxes full of paper cash). The presenters' initial glee at finally being given a reasonable budget for one of these challenges quickly fizzled out when they realized that it equated to about $1,000 US (or £487 in their case).
  • M*A*S*H episode "Change Day": The army issuing new scrip to the soldiers, and the Korean locals would be forbidden from exchanging the soon-to-be-worthless scrip they had been paid over the years by soldiers. Charles tried to pull a Get Rich Quick Scheme and purchased old scrip from the Koreans at 10¢ on the dollar. Hawkeye and BJ thwarted him by getting a friendly MP to close the road so that Charles was unable to pass. They then purchased $400 in old scrip from him at 10¢ on the dollar, exchanged it for new scrip, and refunded a soldier's stolen money, leaving Charles to eat a huge loss. If this seems uncharacteristically mercenary of Charles, that's because it was a leftover script where he took the place of Frank Burns.
  • One episode of Simon & Simon saw the brothers imprisoned in an imaginary Latin American dictatorship, sentenced to pay a hefty fine (something like "a hundred thousand pistartes", or whatever the fake currency was). While in jail, they meet an ex-pat American and relate to them their doubts about paying such a "large" amount. When told about the fine, the ex-pat says, "Guys... that's about fifty bucks!" The brothers Simon are soon out of jail.
  • Invoked and then Averted in an episode of JAG. Harm ends up in a fender bender caused by a beautiful Italian girl, who doesn't want any legal trouble and offers him several thousand Lira (in the form of a wad of cash) as compensation. Harm points out that she's offering him less than twenty dollars. It's only later that Harm learns she is Admiral Chegwidden's daughter, of course.
  • The Canadian dollar having Ridiculous Exchange Rates was a running gag on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, mostly because regular Colin Mochrie was Canadian.
  • Because Due South came out when the Canadian dollar was worth quite a bit less than the American dollar, this came up a lot. In particular during a car chase in a taxi:
    Fraser: I only have Canadian money on me,
    Cab Driver: Fine, I'll drive 30% slower.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: When the show picked up popularity in other countries, it became an Artifact Title because of this trope. A bit of controversy happened in certain countries when contestants won the grand prize, only to find out that 1 Million in their own currency resulted in a very comparatively small amount of money (Greece and Portugal changed their top prizes to €250,000; for example.) Contestants were outraged and demanded that they be paid the equivalent of 1 Million US Dollars. Some countries changed their show's title to reflect this outcome, such as "Who Wants To Be a Euro-Millionare".
  • On I Love Lucy, Ricky freaks out over Lucy's 1,000 franc spending spree during their trip to France. She reminds him that it's a much smaller amount in U.S. dollars.
  • Early in The Daily Show, they would regularly do a graphic reporting the U.S. domestic box office take over the last week in Italian lira. This was for the inevitable joke about how the films in question were grossing billions, potentially even trillions. Obviously, dropped when Italy adopted the euro.
  • Seinfeld. The well-meaning Kramer takes a trip of Japanese tourists all over the city, not realizing that their several thousand yen is only a few hundred US dollars. Sure enough, they run out of money very quickly.
    • In another episode, he and Jerry go to Italy and he's aghast at Jerry paying the taxi driver several thousand lira, again not realizing that it's only a few American dollars.

  • There's an Art Brut song called "18,000 Lira" about a failed bank robbery, which concludes: "sounds like a lot of money."

  • In The Goon Show episode "Robin Hood and his Mirry Mon", the Sheriff makes Robin an offer: Two shirts for five shillings and eleven pence. "Or in Canadian money, $6000".

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Shadowrun campaign "Virtual Seattle", the setting is a somewhat post-apocalyptic America where the currency is the New-Yen and the dominant global economy is Japanese. In one event, the players are trying to steal information from a military ship when a Russian submarine unrelated to either party attacks. The Russians, if communicated with, will offer to pay the PCs one million Rubles if they join forces and let the Russians keep the ship once the PCs get the information they are after. Even though there was no published New-Yen to Ruble exchange rate, the players all assumed it was a Funny Money offer and declined the alliance.
    • Funnily enough, The Sourcebook "Shadows of Asia" has the exchange rate, as of 2064, as 1 Ruble =.33 Nuyen. That's still 330,000 nuyen, which isn't a small amount of money.
  • Orks in Warhammer 40,000 use their teeth as currency. Ork teeth are absolutely worthless to anyone who isn't an Ork, because no-one accepts them but Orks, and if you're not an Ork and you bump into a bunch of Orks, they won't trade with you, and you have bigger problems to worry about. Bigger, angrier, greener problems to worry about.
    • In Warhammer, the Border Principalities have known for their unstability and consequently any currency issued by them is viewed as worthless.
  • Solaris VII, The Game World of BattleTech is one of the few planets explicitly mentioned to print its own money. However, due to the proliferation of H-bills and the universally accepted C-Bill, Solaris scrip is only good on Solaris, and while it has some value for betting, there are a few snide references to the fact that to be worth anything, Solaris scrip must be spent in fairly large numbers and that as singles they might as well be given away. Oddly enough, no explicit exchange rates have ever been canonized, only the aforementioned implications. Most House currencies have much more favorable exchange rates.

    Video Games 
  • In Tropico 3 Absolute Power El Presidente can choose to print more money; while giving money in the short term, it permanently raises the price of everything else, the more money printed the more the economy becomes inflated. Eventually everything becomes too expensive to afford.
  • The browser-based Kingdom of Loathing had a contributor reward called "Mr. Accessory" (nicknamed "Mr. A") that gave a + 15 to all stats for the price of $10. Those who donated $10 Canadian could receive a "Mr. Eh?", that initially gave a + 12 to stats, which was meant to reflect its relative monetary value. As implied, the value of the bonus was adjusted to better match the rising value of the Canadian dollar ? eventually requiring a Word of God acknowledgment that it would never be more powerful than a Mr. A.
  • In the online game/community NationStates, each nation can name its own currency, whose value — relative to other in-game currencies and real-world currencies — is determined by the player's policy decisions. Quite a few fall into this territory.
  • In Dubloon, there's a man who is eager to sell you his goodies for 1 million Farquads (he doesn't accept dubloons). Once an exchange service is open, you can find out that 1 million Farquads is worth 1 dubloon.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the exchange rate between Mushroom Kingdom coins and Beanbean Kingdom coins is absolutely insane. In the beginning of the game, however many Mushroom coins you have — usually at least a hundred — turns out to be worth exactly ten Beanbean coins. By the end, however, the Mushroom currency has apparently devalued off-screen dramatically, to the point where 99,999,999 Mushroom coins is equal to 99 Beanbean coins.
  • In an early mission in Just Cause 2, while Rico is buying some information from an informant, Panau is implied to have this kind of currency.
  • Inflation exists as a mechanic in Europa Universalis; while the player is unlikely to let it get too out of hand, some AI can get into a bankruptcy loop that results in both an incredibly unstable country and having to pay three or four times as much as everyone else for everything. (Inflation points increase the price of all things that cost money by 1% each, and are gained by event, reliance on gold, or minting coins — the equivalent of printing money).
    • Because specie coins have intrinsic value, they are a subject of hoarding and thus don't increase money supply as fast as paper money. You can inflate a currency in a bullion monetary system by minting too much coins (as it happened in colonial Spain) or debasing them (as Roman Empire did), but it's a fairly gradual process that cannot lead to real hyperinflation.
  • In the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC for Portal 2, Cave Johnson reminds the test subjects that he's transporting into alternate dimensions to let him know if they come across any dimensions that are made entirely out of money. He then quickly adds that he's only interested if they're made of U.S. currency and if they encounter any made of pesos, they should just "keep walking".
  • After some really stupid decisions by the managers of Gaia Online, namely the creation of an insane quantity of gold generators, the amount of gold accrued without any adequate Gold Sink, making the prices soar (see here).
  • Neopets has serious issues with hyperinflation, caused by the fact winning Neopets is a walk in the park, although the stakk introduced policies aiming to reduce this amount, such as the selling of an item by a NPC account (read here for more details).
  • Team Fortress 2's economy has suffered from inflation issues for as long as it's existed. The primary currency is metal (the game's main crafting component). The exchange rate for a single key (the other main currency) went from around eight refined metal in 2014 to fifty in 2019. Keep in mind that producing a single piece of refined metal through conventional drops can take weeks, and that a key is worth $2.50; trying to hack out a profit in more than pennies without buying a few keys is borderline impossible. This owes to the fact that metal is produced by Random Drops, while keys need to be bought from the ingame store—the playerbase (especially bots) is constantly pumping more metal into the economy, leading to its value slowly cratering. On the bright side, this means that you can buy every single actual stat-affecting weapon for basically nothing.

    Web Comics 
  • From Kid Radd: Radd is thrilled to get a $1,000 paycheck from his first week. Bogey says the amount is in binary, meaning it's really $8.
  • Megatokyo has an exchange where Largo returns from his new job as "Great Teacher Largo", bragging about the money he made. Piro scans the bills and notes that Largo's salary for the day is 5,000 yen, or 50 US dollars.
    • Incidentally, that's about right. One yen is really (roughly) about one cent. Hence the Sight Gag in one strip where we see a 1¥ Arcade.
  • Something*Positive had a gag where PeeJee gave Davan her lucky (Canadian) quarter. It didn't work—and PeeJee and Aubrey got mad, his apparently negative karma having killed the coin's good luck. Davan shoots back that it's "not like it was real money anyway", to which Aubrey grudgingly agrees.
  • In this Touhou doujin 4koma, Reimu convinces Marisa to donate to her shrine through use of one of her birds. Marisa drops a bill for 10,000 Zimbabwean dollars into Reimu's donation box (not even worth a single yen). The next strip has Reimu going on the warpath.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Joe Oriolo Felix the Cat cartoon "Penelope the Elephant", Rock Bottom kidnaps a lost elephant from Felix that he intended to return to her Rajah for a 50,000,000 bakshee reward. Rock Bottom makes it there ahead of Felix, but to the former's shock, it turns out the reward money is worthless—50,000,000 bakshee is only worth 10 cents in American money. He's so flabbergasted at this outcome, he angrily throws the meager award aside and goes into shock, while Felix gets the last laugh.
  • In the Reality Show parody cartoon Drawn Together, when Toot Braunstein and Ling Ling accidentally kill the hottest prostitute in Mexico, they are given 24 hours to pay the fine of 500 billion pesos. Horrified, Ling Ling yells "That's almost 12 american dollars!"
  • In an episode of Cow and Chicken, the two titular characters take a plane towards Canada after entering a funny home video contest, and they win 20,000 Canadian dollars... but little did they knew, that the exchange rate was $1 US = $80,000 Canadian, which means they just won 25 American cents.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, when on a South American island Peter gets $37 out of his wallet. This makes him the richest man on the island.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, a representative for Russia asks the Olympic committee for Russia to host the Olympics as it would stimulate its economy and help its exchange rate of 1 US dollar to 50 rubles... which quickly escalates to over a thousand rubles.
    • "Where the U.S. dollar buys fifty rubles" *pager beeps* "One hundred rubles!" *pager beeps* "One THOUSAND rubles... I MUST GO!"
    • In another episode, the family visits Canada. They pay for some cheap trinket with American cash, causing the shocked Canadian who took their money to proclaim that he was now set for life. (This was before the 2000s decline of the U.S. Dollar's trading power, when "Oh, it's only a Canadian dollar" actually meant something.)
    • In the season 2 episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", Bart tries to raise one hundred dollars to buy a rare vintage comic book. He opts for taking an old foreign coin collection of his to a bank to exchange it for American currency. He was disappointed to find out that the whole collection was only worth three cents.
    • Played with in "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo". When Homer exchanges his American dollars into Japanese yen, he (and the rest of the family) thinks that everything in Japan is very expensive because of the large prices. In reality though: 100 yen is worth about 1 American dollar. This doesn't stop Homer from buying what he calls a "50 dollar pretzel."
    • In one of the Halloween episodes, Homer attempts to smuggle souvenirs out of an unidentified Middle Eastern country without paying export duties. When he is caught, he is surrounded by armed policemen who demand he pay a fine "... of two American dollars!"
  • A first-season episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! saw Scooby as a potential heir to a share in a considerable fortune—a million American dollars. Turns out, while Colonel Sanders (no! not that Colonel Sanders!) had the million-dollar fortune... the dollars were in worthless Confederate paper money. No attempt is made to explain why the mansion isn't noted as part of the estate since it'd at least be worth something. Or the fact that Confederate money is highly valued by collectors.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Eddy gets a (comically) huge envelope of money from a penpal in Korea and immediately tries to buy jawbreakers. Right before he gets tossed out of the store, Edd remarks:
    Edd: This is foreign currency, Eddy! Virtually worthless in its present state!
    • Part of the joke is that Eddy, being Eddy, doesn't bother exchanging the Korean currency for American dollars. But if you crunch some numbers you quickly find it wouldn't have helped: you need about a thousand Korean won to equal a US dollar.
  • In Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Gantu realized he was getting paid with worthless bills with his employer's face on them, as they were to be worth something after he took over the universe (shades of M.Bison, perhaps?).
  • In The New Woody Woodpecker Show, Woody once found a Russian satellite that crashed and then he sold it to the junkyard for a few dollars. Later on, he learned the Russian Government offered five million units of their currency and he tried to get it back. After managing to get it back and take it to the Russians, he learned the money was worth less than the money he got when he sold it to the junkyard.
  • The Jetsons: George once won the lottery. The prize was worth 7.5 million dollars when he won. However, the economy of Venus suffered a collapse before he exchanged it in American dollars, turning the prize worthless.
  • In an episode of Metalocalypse, Nathan, now the governor of Florida, tries to solve the US' funding problem by introducing a new currency called Death Dollars and printing a lot of them. Needless to say, the money was totally worthless and ruined the already mostly destroyed state by driving them into an irreparable recession.
  • Robot Chicken spoofed The Six Million Dollar Man with the Six Million Peso Man (who upon being completed immediately disappears past the US border).
    Mexican Government Man: "That's 283 American dollars we won't see again..."
  • The Venture Bros.: Dr. Venture is initially very pleased at the amount of the check he receives for lecturing at a Mexican university, then he dejectedly notes it's in pesos.
    Dr. Venture: "All these zeroes are meaningless."
  • TaleSpin: When Baloo recovers an idol from Colonel Spigot he trades it in for a 13 million torbit reward. He calls Rebecca, bragging that he's going to buy the Sea Duck back, while Louie figures out the exchange rate from torbits to shaboozis (Cape Suzette currency). Eight shaboozis worth of gas (plus ice cream tab, tax, and tip) wipes out the whole reward. Suddenly completely broke, Baloo is forced to do an immediate about-face, meekly telling Rebecca he'll be back to work tomorrow and asking if he can reverse charges on the call.
  • Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh: Tip tries to make some spare money by taxing Boov around all day; at the end of the day she and Oh count the large piles of currency they have collected only to find out the 6,034 Gleeblos they have are worth $3.00 USD.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Hyperinflation is generally caused when a country decides that they'll alleviate their poor problem by printing more money. However, a currency's worth is determined by some baseline (originally the country's gold holdings, based on the gold standard, and more recently based on the country's output or Gross Domestic Product). Printing more money is a very, very short-term solution to a big problem: creating more cash will work until everyone realizes that what's backing the cash hasn't changed. In simpler terms, each piece of hard currency is a slice of a pie: creating more cash doesn't make a bigger pie, it just creates more cuts and reduces the size of the existing slices, so you need more and more slices to equal what you had before. And hyperinflation is absolutely, unbelievably horrible for a country. Just look at all these examples of the consequences of hyperinflation:


  • Zimbabwe's hyperinflation, which set the record for the highest number of zeroes on a banknote when they released a 100 trillion-dollar bill in 2009 — and this was after two revaluations that cut a total of 13 zeros from the currency.
    • After going through a long period of hyperinflation (at one point the inflation rate was over 230 million percent, and the money supply was growing by 658 billion percent) and three revaluations, the Zimbabwean dollar was suspended in January 2009, and finally abandoned in April 2009. Before the third revaluation, the exchange rate was 300 trillion Zimbabwean dollars to 1 US dollar. ATMs were unable to cope with the amounts of money people needed to withdraw, producing overflow errors. One 2009 Zimbabwe dollar was worth 10 septillion (10^25) 2005 Zimbabwe dollars. Also, by the end of 2008, the inflation rate was estimated to be 89.7 sextillion (8.97 x 10^22) percent.
      • At those rates, it becomes meaningless to speak of inflation in percentages due to the way compounding works. It makes more sense to speak of the currency's half-life or tenth-life (the time it takes to lose half or 90% of its value, respectively). A currency with 2% inflation has a half-life of about 35 years, but a hyperinflating currency might have a half-life of a few days. For the record, at the peak of the inflation, the half-life of the Zimbabwean dollar fluctuated about 24 hours, almost reaching the all-time record of 1946 Hungary, where in July the half-life of pengő was roughly half of that.
      • In 2009, following the major inflation crisis, Zimbabwe retired its currency and now considers the American dollar official for its government.
  • The CFA franc, which is at a fixed rate of 655.957 francs for a Euronote .
  • In 1993 Mobutu Zaire, one nouveau zaire was exchanged for three millions of the old ones.
  • The Mozambique metical was the currency with the lowest value on 2004 (the exchange rate being t 24,500 meticais per USD) until Zimbabwe took the place in late August 2005. On July 1, 2006, Mozambique redenominated the metical at a rate of 1000:1.
  • In 2009, São Tomé and Príncipe signed a deal with Portugal in 2009, linking the dobra with the euro after falling greatly in value over the past several years. The rate was now fixed to 24,500 dobras per euro, compared to 12,000 dobras per euro in 2004. São Tomé and Príncipe revalued their currency at the rate of 1,000 old dobras (STD) to one new dobra (STN) in 2018. It is still pegged to the euro at 24.50 new dobras for a dollar.


  • During the 1997 Asian Currency/Financial Crisis, the Indonesian rupiah was devalued to the point that Indonesian students pulling part-time jobs in McDonald's could go home after a few week's work and trade in those Singaporean Dollars for millions of rupiah. Work in Singapore in a cheap job, go home and be a millionaire. As of September 2018, the exchange rate is around 14,900 IDR per USD.
    • The exchange rate is deceptive, however. While the rate is cartoonishly steep, it is stable, having barely moved for most of 2017.
    • While living costs are ridiculously low compared to developed countries (a KFC meal set consisted of a wing, a riceball, and a cup of Pepsi will cost you 90¢), prices of imported goods varies from cheaper ($45 for a brand-new PS3 game, roughly half of locally mandated minimum monthly wage) to highway robbery ($1000 for an iPhone 4 on contract) .
  • The South Korean Won is valued at approximately 1,000 Won = $1 US. Unfortunately, the largest size bill available to the general public is 50,000 Won, which thus tends to be around $40-$50. Now Korean landlords, when renting to Americans, like their rent for the year up front, in cashnote ...So every year or two, a number of Americans are seen with large brown paper bags full of 10,000 and 50,000 Won bills.
    • The North Korean Won lost even more value in 2009, largely due to the ill-advised financial reform that ignored all knowledge about how money works, even in a socialist command economy. Long story short, the government revalued the Won, chopping the two zeroes off it, but at the same time it instituted huge wage hikes to illustrate the nation's "prosperity". This would inflate the currency even in the most strictly controlled planned economy, but North Korea actually has a huge and poorly controlled black market, where normal economic mechanisms are at work, so the new Won dropped almost to the pre-reform value basically overnight. However, it's possible the North Korean government knew exactly what it was doing with that, aiming to destroy the life savings of much of the population and eliminate any illusion financial independence from the system. It worked fairly well, at first, allowing them to say they did something about the black marketing. It would never have been intended to work for any longer than that.
  • Prior to World War II, the Japanese Yen was worth around $12 in current (2009) U.S. currency but faced a steep decline during and after. It was set at 360 to the dollar for a long time after the war but now fluctuates with the market, usually hovering just over $0.01 since a few years ago.
    • In the prewar period, there were even smaller values: the Sen (1/100 Yen, and origin of the term Sento) and the Rin (1/10 Sen, or 1/1000 Yen). These fractional values became nigh on worthless after the War and were discontinued, though the Sen still pops up regularly in discussions of exchange rates and stock prices.
    • Nowadays the yen has notably appreciated — in 2008, it was over 100 yen per $1 and over 200 yen per £1. Then the financial crisis hit and the rate quickly fell off a cliff, hovering around 80 yen per $1 and 125 yen per £1 for several years, which has led everyone to cry murder and to the historically largest currency interventions on the part of the Bank Of Japan. For the export-oriented economy like Japanese, the strong yen is the worst thing they would ever need. That's right, it's actually worse for the Japanese (and also consumers in other countries who buy Japanese goods) to have their currency be worth more, which has led to a Springtime for Hitler scenario for the Bank of Japan. Fortunately, the rate has finally started to rise back up, starting in Q4 2012.
    • Back in the bad old days of Imperial Japan, the conquering Japanese printed new money for use in their occupied territories, known as "banana money" as the design incorporated a banana plant. It ended up being worthless due to massive counterfeiting (there were no serial numbers) and then totally valueless after the Japanese forces surrendered to the allies, and samples are still given out for free in compilations of replicas of wartime relics (although rarer notes do still fetch hefty prices in auctions.)
  • Because the Philippines used to rub shoulders with America during the Wars, the Philippine Peso used to be 1=1. Now it's somewhere between 1=50 and 1=40 and on a roller coaster ride between them. And it doesn't help that most restaurants/hospitals have Wartime photos of their first place with menus showing a full course dinner for 10 pesos, house calls for 3 pesos, and a delivery for 20. (Kids: Wow, everything was cheap in the past!! Adults: Why god, WHY?!?!)
  • Mentioned above in the Top Gear (UK) example, $1 US Dollar equaled $15,000 Vietnamese đồng (pronounced "Dough-ng") back in 2008. In mid-2010: $1 USD = $19,000 VND. As of fall 2016, it's $22,301 VND.
  • 1940s China was not a politically stable place (what with the Communists, the Nationalists, and various warlords vying for power depending on the location, and sometimes there was no standing government at all) and the currency suffered as a result. Smart Chinese businessmen took payment in gold, silver (there's still plenty of Qing era ingots left), or opium.


  • One of the best-known examples is the German mark (not to be confused with the pre-Euro Deutsche Mark) from the interwar Weimar Republic. Destroyed by the war and without a single penny left to pay the war penalties, Germany had no choice but to run the presses until the whole debt was paid; as a result, the Mark's value collapsed, and the biggest banknote ever printed was the 100 quadrillion Mark bill, which was worth something around 24 US dollars!. When Stresemann became chancellor in 1923, the Rentenmark was issued at 1 RM = 1 trillion Marks.
    • At its height, one dollar traded for 420,000,000,000,000,000 marks. That's 420 quadrillion (short scale) or 420 billiard (long scale) marks!
    • It's a common misconception that hyperinflation was caused by the Weimar Government attempting to pay off its war debts by just printing money. The actual cause of hyperinflation was the 1923 Ruhr Crisis, when the Weimar Republic missed a payment on its war reparations, prompting a joint French-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr. The Ruhr was Germany's industrial heartland, so when the German Government called for a general strike in opposition to the French, it crippled the German economy. Cue massive hyperinflation.
    • There is a famous image of a woman feeding the stove with money, since it's worth less than firewood. Money was also used as wallpaper.
    • There is a popular urban legend (attributed to many times and places) about two women who try buying bread at a bakery. They had a huge pile of worthless Marks in a wheelbarrow outside. When they went back out someone had stolen the wheelbarrow but left the money on the floor.
    • Another one involves someone going into a restaurant and ordering an egg and coffee, which was (say) 7,000 marks. An hour later, when the bill came, the price had risen to 10,000.
    • Or the sad story of a German family who sold their house to emigrate to America. When they arrived in Hamburg, they had to find out that not only was the money for their house not enough to pay the ticket to the US, but not even enough for the train ticket back to their hometown.
    • There are stamps that still exist that are for the postage of 20 billion Marks (actually 20 milliard, due to differences in how the US and Europe calculate one billion, but it is still an unimaginably huge number to mail a letter...) So many of them were printed and so few were actually used that you can get mint uncancelled specimens for little more than a song, but a genuinely canceled and postally-used one could set you back a pretty pfennig.
  • A historical trope from World War II. German occupation troops stationed in countries that still remained theoretically sovereign (notably, France and Denmark) got their pay partly in certificates that could be redeemed for the local currency and the exchange rates were arbitrarily fixed in favor of Germans. This made German soldiers very rich and doing business with them quite profitable. In case of fairly well-developed economies like France, there were plenty of goods available (often on the black market!) for the German soldiers to buy in relative comfort and security—often to the exclusion of the relatively impoverished locals. Consequently, Germans who had family members serving in occupation forces on these "nice" postings could get a steady stream of goods that could not be easily found in wartime Germany sent home by their soldier relatives.
    • The main reason for arbitrary exchange rates was so that Germany could extort economic concessions from defeated nations more easily, however, and the benefits to its occupation troops was an added bonus.
  • During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the value of Polish zloty (currency code: PLZ) fell so badly that before the redenomination in 1995, the largest bill in circulation (introduced in 1992) was "only" two million zlotys — worth roughly 80 USD at the time. The new money (currency code: PLN) was established by dropping four zeros from the old one's value (1 PLN = 10000 PLZ) and in 2011, the largest bill in use, 200 PLN (introduced in 1995), is worth roughly 70 USD. 500 PLN notes (which were worth €116 each at the time of their introduction) started circulating on February 2017.
  • Of course, these examples pale in comparison with the post-war Hungarian pengő, which experienced the single worst example of hyperinflation in history. The 100 million B-pengő (i.e. 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 pengő) note is the single highest denomination bill ever issued, according to The Other Wiki. And that banknote was effectively worthless. (A 1 milliard B-Pengő note was printed but not issued.) At the height of the hyperinflation, prices doubled in every fifteen hours. To quote one source (Postwar by Tony Judt) "by the time the pengo was replaced by the forint at the rate of 400 octillion pengő to one forint in August 1946 the dollar value of all Hungarian banknotes in circulation was just one-thousandth of one cent."
  • The early-90s Yugoslav dinar (image) once held the record for the most zeros printed on a banknote, before Zimbabwe broke it in 2009.
  • The French franc was replaced in 1960 by the new franc (nicknamed 'heavy franc') at a hundred to one. See the Casino Royale novel for an example of what it was like before. Old people in France used to think in "old francs" until the euro was introduced. It was also common before the euro to list the prices of major purchases (like cars) in centimes (1/100 of a franc)—which was in essence just a continuation of the old franc. (Lottery prizes did the same thing.)
  • One Eastern European currency which subverted this tropenote  is the Latvian lats, one of which was actually worth more than a pound sterling. British holidaymakers soon realize that the one-lats pint of local alus, whilst still cheaper than the extortionate prices at home, isn't quite as much of a bargain as it first appears.
  • Russian Civil War era money was the king of this trope. It was not only notoriously worthless (one million rubles was a small money unit even after revaluations, and pre-revaluation million rubles was pretty much toilet paper), but it also was not unified. Every town or petty government issued their own scrip, resulting a total of thousands of currency units in one country. The most notorious was the kerenki, the scrip of the Provisional Government, that was so poorly made that any printing device could be used to make indistinguishable counterfeits (and indeed, every printer in the country was printing kerenki). Later they became so worthless that they were not even cut into individual banknotes, but rather used as 1x1 meter uncut sheets (the money unit was called "a meter of kerenki"). When someone needed less than a meter, the sheet was manually cut with scissors or even torn by hands.
    • 1990s Russia was hit by this again, though not as hard. The prices grew from rubles to hundreds thousands rubles in some years after the fall of the Soviet Union. This time, the revaluation in 1998 proved to be relatively stable, with the copecks still (barely) in use. An early 1990s attempt to reintroduce local scrip (the "Ural franc") failed miserably.
    • The ruble is still pretty bad though and is currently worth about 1.4 euro cents (about 1.6 US cents, roughly). the most important part, however, is that it is stable, which means that you don't lose money simply by having it.
      • That's the whole point — exchange rate per se doesn't really mean much (and is rather easily manipulated by speculators), its dynamics, however, is the key. Since 2000 ruble is on the rise and is often said by the analysts to still be undervalued. And if the plans to chop two zeros off again would ever come to fruition, then the ruble would cost three to four dollars — but that won't mean that anything really changed.
      • As of May 2018, the ruble is worth about 1/63 of a dollar.
  • In an amusing reversal, the Cyprus Pound is worth rather more than the British one (which is in turn the biggest well-known currencynote ). Which has led to more than one tourist giving a massive tip on the basis that "It's only Funny Money" only to realize (usually after sobering up) that the £70 (Cyprus) tip they gave works out to about £100 (sterling).
    • Was — it, and the Maltese lira, also worth more than the pound, were replaced by the euro in 2008.
  • The Italian lira was an easy target for this trope. Why? Well, when it was replaced by the euro, one euro was worth 1,936.27 lira.
    • A proposal to rectify the situation by slicing off the last three zeroes was made in 1986: the new currency would have been called ''lira pesante'' (heavy lira) or lira nuova (new lira). It never went anywhere due to obstructive bureaucracy.
  • Axis-occupied Greece witnessed one of the worse hyperinflations in the history, with, on October 1944, a monthly rate of 13,800%.
  • Revolutionary France issued the assignats, so named because they were assignés ("assigned") the value of the church's estates. Eventually too much of the stuff was printed, and the value sank so low that the State had to order the death penalty for those who refused to use it.
  • When Turkey revalued its currency in 2005, the Romanian leu briefly became the world's least valued currency until it redenominated its currency in July that year at the rate of 10,000 old lei (ROL) to one new leu (RON). The exchange rate before redenomination was 36,000 old lei for a euro.

The Middle East

  • Averted with the Jordanian dinar, Omani rial, Bahraini dinar, and Kuwaiti dinar. They are, in increasing rank, the top four valued currencies in the world (yes, even more than the British pound). Tourists often get burned in Kuwait, not realising that 1 dinar is worth 3.30 USD.
  • The perennial joke-butt that was the Turkish lira revalued by dropping six zeroes. The exchange rate had previously been £1 ~ 2,000,000 Turkish lira. This is quite a common practice when currency becomes hyperinflated.
    • A bit used once on The Howard Stern Show was "Who Wants To Be A Turkish Millionaire" where a series of not-surprisingly scantily-clad, very attractive young women were asked a series of trivia questions, with the winner receiving a million Turkish lira. In other words, about fifty cents.
    • A few years ago (prior to re-valuation), a British family vacationing in Turkey got fined 250,000,000 Turkish Lira for speeding. Supposedly, their initial reaction was one of panic and despair over the amount they had to pay, until somebody pointed out the exchange rate.
  • The Israeli pound was replaced ten-to-one by the old sheqel in 1980. The old sheqel was replaced by the new sheqel in 1985 at a thousand to one.
  • The Egyptian pound, with its current exchange rate of about 17.8 pounds to the dollar (5.6 US cents for a pound) doesn't seem so bad...until you realize how far it's fallen. When the pound was originally established in the early 20th century, it was worth exactly one British guinea—a pound and a shilling, or £1.05 when decimalised.note  Eventually, circumstances were such that the Egyptian pound appreciated against the pound sterling—eventually hitting £2 to £3 at some point. However, part of the economic restructuring started in The '70s under Anwar Sadat (and continued since then) involved letting the currency float—and float it has, all the way down to its current value. This had three peculiar effects:
    1. People started keeping their money in foreign currency as much as they could.
    2. A large number of perpetual leases became absurdly cheap. Tenants in apartments that had been rented out for 2 or 4 or 6 or 8 pounds a month under perpetual leases became absurdly undervalued (with market rents now being in the hundreds or thousands monthly—many of these properties were in very nice areas of the older parts of Egypt's burgeoning cities, and in particular a lot of these "rental" properties were on the Mediterranean coast in Alexandria, which went from a coastal semi-resort town of about 300,000 in the 1910s to a metropolis of 4.5 million today), yet they kept paying the same rates. Consequently, Egypt banned indefinite or effectively indefinite contracts, in the 80s (when this issue first showed up).
    3. Egyptians—especially older ones—are liable to see their own currency as subject to Ridiculous Exchange Rates, while foreigners are likely to say, "It's cheap, but it's not that bad."
  • A new poster-boy for this is Iran, whose rial lost 80% of its value between January and October 2012, and has had several days of double-digit single-day losses (e.g. 1 October, on which it fell 18%). Iranians are already used to chopping off a zero (the toman reckoning), but this is getting ridiculous, and it has led to some protest in the country. The official exchange rate is 1 USD = 42,000 IRR as of September 2018.

North America

  • The Canadian dollar used to have a poor exchange rate with the U.S. dollar; now despite being pretty close (with the Canadian dollar occasionally being worth more), the exchange rate is still fodder for humor. It doesn't matter which side of the border you're on, either; it just determines if it's mockery or sarcasm.
    • To be fair, as much as Americans like to joke about the Canadian dollar, it has never reached any "ridiculous" exchange rate against the US dollar. For the most part, it's been worth a little less than the US dollar (never lower than 0.61 USD), but occasionally has been valued higher than the USD. Since the late 2000s, the US and Canadian dollars have hovered at about par, with the Canadian usually being worth slightly less, although at times it has fallen significantly below the usual range; American businesses near the border are generally more than willing to take Canadian coins (except the Loonie and Toonie, which have no widely-circulating American equivalent) without comment, and it's not at all uncommon for a Canadian business to take all American currency at par even if the Canadian is running slightly stronger at the moment.
    • It isn't funny to Canadian business that export to US, either. Stronger Canadian dollar means that Americans need to spend more for Canadian products; thus the American buying power (of Canadian products) decrease.
      • This put the RPG company "Guardians of Order" out of business. Paying for almost everything in Canadian dollars (they were based in Canada) and being paid for your product in American dollars (it's a much larger market for tabletop gaming) was nice under the older exchange rates. When the US dollar tanked, they wound up taking a 30% cut in income, and couldn't sell enough to make up the difference.
      • A weak Canadian dollar was also part of the reason for the NHL's push for expansion into the United States about twenty years ago. Since the Canadian dollar's rise, the NHL is talking about opening a franchise in, possibly, Quebec City (which hasn't had its own team since the Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995). Even more strident has been the gossip about the Phoenix team returning to Canada. And as of May 31, 2011, Winnipeg has an NHL hockey team once again—previously the Atlanta Thrashers, now the new Winnipeg Jets. Atlanta is the only U.S. city to lose an NHL team to Canada, and this team is the second they've lost. (The previous one was the Atlanta Flames, which moved to Calgary.) No word yet on the team in Phoenix.
  • Civil War-era Confederate paper money was notoriously worthless (some of the rare bills are far more valuable now, as collector's items). The North tried printing counterfeit bills to undermine the Confederate Dollar, but success was hard to gauge. They were easy to spot (they looked too good) but they still circulated, since they weren't any less worthless than the real thing. The counterfeit bills are also considered collectible (unlike counterfeit US currency, it's entirely legal to own counterfeit Confederate dollars), and in some denominations the counterfeits are actually more valuable.
  • Before that, paper money issued by the Continental Congress and the individual states were also pretty much worthless, leading to the phrase 'not worth a Continental'. There's a reason the Constitution specifically forbids states to issue paper money. Even George Washington once complained that you needed a wagon of money to buy a wagon of hay.
    • However, due to a loophole, states were allowed to issue charters for banks to issue banknotes.note  This led to nearly one thousand different institutions issuing banknotes at one point (sometime in the 1850s), each with multiple bills. Not only were there countless counterfeits, but it got so confusing that it became possible to pass bills from fake (but realistic-looking) banks as genuine; in some cases, these were better printed than those issued by legitimate banksnote . Luckily, the Civil War led to the establishment of a national paper currency.note  This had the peculiar side effect that many banks in the US are chartered under federal law (almost all American corporations are chartered pursuant to state corporate law).
      • And that was when American currency was actually being used. For most of the U.S. and territories, the Spanish Real was preferred as it had a known and set value.
  • The Mexican peso occasionally gets this treatment, even though the actual exchange rate has been 1 US dollar = 10 pesos for most of the decade, being currently around $1 USD = $19 MXN; this has to do mostly because Mexico is the neighboring country and therefore an acceptable target, and partly because the peso was Funny Money between 1982 and 1994: after a series of wrong doings by the presidents from that time, and after a sudden fall on the petroleum's price, the Mexican peso collapsed and the entire economy sank to the bottom (along with a sharp rise in crime during these times). In 1993, the new peso was issued at an exchange rate of N$1 = $1,000; the "new" was then dropped in 1996.
    • Notice that the symbol for a peso is also $ (common practice in Mexico is to draw the $ with two bars or appending USD when using dollars).note  This can make it tricky for American tourists to read from a price list, particularly in towns like Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez or Cancún where business is transacted in American currency just as often as in Mexican currency. Hilarity ensues.
  • Subverted or averted with, of all things, the printed scrip (or bonds) that Emperor Norton created in San Francisco in the 1870s to generate some personal wealth. Local stores would accept them at face value, equal to 50 cents pieces. When the bonds came due a few years later, faced with the possibility of having to pay off those bonds with money he still didn't have, Norton... printed even more scrip, which still was used in the stores at same value. When he died, technically the scrip became worthless because there was no one to pay them off: however, as a historical celebrity, any surviving Norton scrip are now worth tens of thousands of dollars as collectibles.
  • During the time that Texas was an independent republic in the 1830s and 40s, the Texan dollar (or "redback") became so inflated that eventually even the Texan government wouldn't accept it for payment of taxes, insisting instead on US dollars, gold, or silver.

South America

  • One US dollar is worth around 600 Chilean pesos. While the Chileans did drop the cents they had during the 1980s and then went into a progressive inflation during the '90s, compared to the Dollar, now, 600 Chilean pesos per dollar is cheap. During the '90s the a Dollar was worth around 1000 Chilean Pesos in the most extreme cases. While the inflation, heavily controlled by the government, has really rendered the 1 peso coin unusable, the Chilean Peso internationally is in fact strong: In the middle of the 2000s, there's a time the Dollar went to be worth 500 Chilean Pesos not because something wrong happened with the Dollar, that was because the Chilean Peso was getting stronger!
    • On a tangentially related note, Chile misspelled its own name on its 50-peso coin. Said coins are really sought after, since: 1.— Fake rumors began running that the government was issuing a 25000 pesos (around 50 USD) reward for each one, and 2.— Chilean numismatists are actually offering that much for them online.
    • If you actually want to hear about actual Chilean Funny Money, try with the Chilean Escudo, their currency during the 1960s and '70s. It was issued in 1960 and replaced in 1975 by the New Peso, Today's Currency: While around 100 New Chilean Pesos were worth 1 Dollar, 1 Peso was worth about 1000 Escudos!
  • Brazil faced hyperinflation several times over the 20th century, always ending up introducing a new currency only to see it lose value again. This ended in 1994 with the Plano Real, in which (as This American Life put it) the government lied to the people to restore confidence in the currency...It Worked. (Here's that TAL episode, if you're interested; if you don't have the time to listen to a podcast right now, here's a written summary by the same person.)
    • As a side note: A real= 2,750 cruzeiros reais (1993-1994)= 2,750,000 1990 cruzeiros= 2,750,000,000 1986 cruzados= 2,750,000,000,000 1963 cruzeiros= 2,750,000,000,000,000 1942 cruzeiros= 2,750,000,000,000,000,000 (colonial-era) reis.
  • In 1944, a dollar was worth 4 Argentine Pesos Moneda Nacional. Nowadays, a dollar is worth 28 pesos argentinos... except 1 peso argentino is worth 10 trillion Pesos Moneda Nacional after several revaluations. During the second half of the 20th Century, the Argentine monetary system would go like this: hyperinflation - rename the currency (Moneda Nacional, Pesos Ley, Austral, Pesos Convertibles, Pesos Argentinos) and drop some zeroes on the way - a decade or so of peace - whoops hyperinflation again - rinse and repeat. These days, inflation stands at 25% yearly, one of the 5 highest rates in the world.
  • As of 28 June 2018, one U.S. dollar is worth 2,935 Colombian pesos.
  • Before Ecuador abandoned its own currency, the sucre, in favor of the US dollar, one US dollar bought 25,000 sucres.
  • By 1990, Peru's inti was rendered essentially worthless by hyperinflation, having printed a 5,000,000 inti note. It redenominated its currency at the rate of one nuevo sol to one million intis a year later.
  • Hyperinflation has accompanied the worst economic crisis in the history of Venezuela, which began in 2010 when Hugo Chávez was president and has gotten much worse under Chavez' successor Nicolás Maduro.
    • In October 2016, the Venezuelan bolivar was undergoing inflation around 700%. By September 2017 the bolivar was past 20,000 per USD. The opposition-led Asamblea Nacional reported an annual inflation rate of over 80,000% for the twelve months to July 2018. The exchange rate reached over six million bolivars per USD (six billion pre-2008 bolivars), which is obviously nearly seven per euro (as of August 2018). This is despite the fact that exchanging money through the black market is illegal in Venezuela.
    • The government has planned to redenominate its currency at the rate of 1000 current bolivars to a new bolivar, known as the bolivar soberano. It was originally scheduled for 4 June 2018, which was then postponed to 4 August 2018, and was further postponed to 20 August 2018, with the ratio changed to 100,000 current bolivars to a new bolivar.
    • On 17 August 2018, after a talk at Miraflores Palace, Maduro implemented a new exchange rate to the Petro relative to the US dollar, with the exchange rate set to US$60 to the petro or 3600 new bolivars, equivalent to 360 million current bolivars. One US dollar would be worth six million current bolivars, a 96 percent devaluation from the DICOM exchange rate of 248,832 per USD.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Funny Money, Astronomical Exchange Rate


Horrible Histories

This sketch does not exaggerate the disastrous effects of the infamous German post-WW1 inflation.

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Example of:

Main / RidiculousExchangeRates

Media sources:

Main / RidiculousExchangeRates