hyperinflation

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Venezuela is starting the year with a dramatic new twist to its political crisis.

On Sunday, allies of President Nicolás Maduro hijacked a session of the country's National Assembly while security forces locked out the body's president, Juan Guaidó, and his supporters. Meanwhile, inside the chamber, lawmakers allied to Maduro's government quickly selected a new head of the chamber.

JUAN BARRETO / AFP/Getty Images

A newly negotiated government funding compromise on Capitol Hill includes nearly a half-billion dollars in humanitarian aid to support Venezuelan refugees and codifies sanctions against the regime of embattled Venezuelan ruler Nicolás Maduro.

In Venezuela, where the annual inflation rate topped 60,000 percent this weekend, the currency has lost so much value that it takes stacks of bills just to buy a roll of toilet paper. The average consumer might as well bring a wheelbarrow to the market — not to transport groceries but to cart all the cash needed to buy them.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

When the year started, we were astounded to hear Venezuela’s 2018 inflation rate could top 13,000 percent. That’s pretty bad hyperinflation. But Venezuelans now look at that forecast as the good news.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

It’s official: Venezuela has entered hyperinflation. It is only the seventh country in the history of Latin America to have that dubious distinction. And no one’s seeing any light at the end of this tunnel.

Technically, hyperinflation occurs when month-on-month inflation tops 50 percent for 30 days straight. Oil-rich Venezuela got to that point earlier this month. But it’s already had the world’s highest inflation rate for years. Its 2016 annual inflation may rise above 500 percent.