Lithuanian talonas

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Example of first edition 100 talonas, with a wisent depicted

The talonas (ISO 4217 code LTT) was a temporary currency issued in Lithuania between 1991 and 1993. It replaced the Soviet ruble at par and was replaced by the litas at a rate of 100 talonas = 1 litas. The talonas was only issued as paper money.

The first talonas reform

Year Inflation rate (%)
In Lithuania In Russia
1991 225 N/A
1992 1100 2508.8
1993 409 849.9
1994 45.1 215.1
1995 35.7 175.0
1996 13.1 21.8
1997 8.4 11.0
1998 2.4 84.4
1999 1.5 36.5
Sources [1], [2], [3]

On 5 August 1991, as a response to public complaints about inflation, the Lithuanian government introduced the talonas, paid out as a supplement to the salaries in rubles.1 It was a quick and unforeseen reform pushed by the Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius. At first, it was very similar to ration coupons: every person received 20% of his/her salary in talonas up to a maximum of 200 talonas. In order to buy goods other than food, a person had to pay the price in rubles and again in talonas (for example, if a pair of shoes cost 50 rubles, a person had to pay 50 rubles and 50 talonas to buy them).

This system was widely criticized. First of all, in no way it addressed the reasons why there were shortages of goods, i.e. it did not promote the supply; it just limited the demand. Also, the demand for expensive goods (like home appliances) dropped sharply because people needed a lot of time to accumulate the necessary amount of talonas to buy them. It caused bottlenecks in the supply chain and further damaged already troubled production. In addition, this scheme could not prevent the hyperinflation of the ruble because the talonas was not an independent currency; it was a supplementary currency with a fixed exchange rate to the ruble. The system tried to encourage Lithuanians to save 80% of their salaries. But people accumulated their rubles and had nowhere to spend them. It led to the inflation of goods that did not require the talonas (like food or goods on the black market).

Final edition of 500 talonas displaying gray wolves

The second talonas reform

In the summer of 1992, everybody anticipated that the talonas would shortly be replaced by a permanent currency, the litas. Lithuania was desperately lacking cash (some workers were paid in goods rather than in cash) as Russia tightened its monetary policy. In addition, the litas coins and banknotes were already produced and shipped to Lithuania from abroad. However, on May 1, 1992 it was decided to reintroduce the talonas as an independent, temporary currency to circulate alongside the ruble in hopes to deal with inflation. A dual currency system was created. On October 1, 1992 the ruble was completely abandoned and replaced by the talonas. Lithuania was the last of the Baltic states to abandon the ruble. The self-imposed deadlines to introduce the litas were continuously postponed without clear explanations.

Nicknamed "Vagnorkės" or "Vagnoriukai" after Gediminas Vagnorius or "zoo tickets" after various animals native to Lithuania featured on the notes, the talonas did not gain public trust or respect. The banknotes were small and printed on low quality paper. People were reluctant to use them. Nevertheless, the talonas served its purpose: inflation at the time was greater in Russia than in Lithuania. Inflation in 1992 rose steadily due to an energy price spike after Russia increased oil and gasoline prices to world levels and demanded to be paid in hard currency.

On June 25, 1993, the litas was introduced at the rate of 1 litas = 100 talonas. Worthless talonas were recycled into toilet paper in the Grigiškės paper factory.2

Banknotes

In 1991, notes were issued in denominations of 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, 1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 talonas. In 1992, notes were issued for 1, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 talonas, followed by new designs of the 200 and 500 talonas notes in 1993.

References

Inline
  1. ^ Linzmayer, Owen. The Banknote Book: Lithuania. www.BanknoteNews.com. 2013. San Francisco, CA. http://www.banknotebook.com
  2. ^ (Lithuanian) Gvozdaitė, Laura (2008-10-07). "Sudilusių pinigų reinkarnacija". Lietuvos rytas. 
General
Lithuanian talonas
Preceded by:
Soviet ruble
Reason: introduction of temporary currency
Currency of Lithuania
1991 – 1993
Succeeded by:
Lithuanian litas
Reason: introduction of permanent currency







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