What do Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe, and Nicolás Maduro have in common? The Communist Manifesto and inflation.
At 480% per annum, Venezuela’s inflation is currently the world’s highest. The Bolivarian Revolution is pushing prices up at a rate of 36% per month. Will these punishing inflation numbers spell the end of President Nicolás Maduro’s reign? Maybe not. Milosevic’s Yugoslavia and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe witnessed much higher inflation rates, and both hung on for many years.
Slobodan Milosevic was in the saddle when inflation gutted the rump Yugoslavia. Milosevic’s inflationary madness reached its peak in January 1994, when the monthly inflation rate hit 313,000,000% -- almost nine million times greater than Venezuela’s current monthly rate. Nonetheless, Milosevic retained his grip on what was left of Yugoslavia for another six years.
In 2008, Zimbabwe out-did Yugoslavia when Zimbabwe recorded the second-highest hyperinflation in history. With Robert Mugabe at the helm, hyperinflation peaked at a staggering 79,600,000,000% per month, or a daily rate of 98%. Despite this astronomical figure, Mugabe remains in office to this day -- over seven years since the hyperinflation ended.
While hyperinflation is not a recipe for building a politician’s popular support, it is not a certain death knell, either. Don’t count Maduro out, yet. As long as he retains popular support and “controls” the ballot boxes, he will stay in the saddle.