Venezuela is in such dire financial straits that the country’s currency, the bolivar, is now less valuable on the black market than fictional “gold” in Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft” computer game, according to a report by Fortune magazine Tuesday.
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As of Tuesday morning, one U.S. dollar was worth 12,197 bolivars, according to Dolar Today, which tracks the Venezuelan currency’s value on the black market. World of Warcraft tokens, which can be used to buy in-game items for virtual characters or exchanged for virtual gold, cost $20.
World of Warcraft tokens are currently worth 129,631 pieces of virtual gold in the computer game. That means one U.S. dollar is worth about 6,482 pieces of fake gold. At that rate, World of Warcraft gold is nearly twice as valuable as the Venezuelan bolivar. Twitter user “@KalebPrime,” a purported Venezuelan citizen, was first to note the trend, according to Fortune.
Venezuela’s government put a new official currency rate last March in a bid to slow the nation’s financial crisis under President Nicolas Maduro. At present, the government says one U.S. dollar is worth roughly 10 bolivar. However, most Venezuelan citizens purchase essential goods on the black market amid a collapsing economy plagued by food and medicine shortages, Reuters reported in May.
Protests against the Maduro regime have turned violent in recent days, with dozens killed as the government uses increasingly brutal tactics to suppress opposition. The U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions against several current and former Venezuelan officials, including Maduro himself, this week after the government held a controversial election.
Inflation is expected to increase 720% in Venezuela this year after surging more than 800% in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund.