The 100 million mark banknote I am holding was mere pocket change compared to the value of the banknotes yet to be issued in 1923. In early 1921 German currency was trading at 60 marks to the U.S. dollar. By November 1921 there were 330 marks to the dollar. A year later a dollar bought 8,000 marks. In December 1923 the exchange rate was 4,200,000,000,000 marks to the U.S. dollar.
The Wiemar Republic did not have the worst hyperinflation in history — Hungary holds that “honor”. Zimbabwe was the second worst offender, followed by Yugoslavia, and then Germany. Greece and China round up the top six hyperinflators of all time.
The highest denomination in Germany was a 100,000,000,000,000 mark banknote issued in 1923. Workers were paid three times a day and wives would meet them to rush to the store to pay 200 billion marks for a loaf of bread.
The hyperinflation was caused by the government issuing massive amounts of new money. This caused prices to rise. Germans with money saved had it wiped out, making them destitute. The German government essentially monetized its debt, much like the U.S. is doing of late. Germany failed to raise its interest rate sufficiently, just as in the U.S. at present.
The main force in the 1920s which gave the nightmare German inflation its momentum was the relentless decrease in the real value of currency in circulation.
Just like in the United States in 2010.