RIO DE JANEIRO — SINCE Brazil became a republic in 1889, historians say the country has had accumulated inflation of 1.4 trillion percent. From 1976 to 1993 alone, inflation reached a compounded 200 billion percent. The result was a change of the nation's currency seven times.
In 1965, the military government changed the Cruzeiro to the Cruzeiro Novo and the Cruzeiro Novo back to the Cruzeiro five years later.
In 1986, President Jose Sarney changed the Cruzeiro to the Cruzado and three years later introduced the Cruzado Novo.
President Fernando Collor de Mello then changed the Cruzado Novo back to the Cruzeiro in 1990, and his successor Itamar Franco ended the Cruzeiro with the Cruzeiro Real in 1993.
The next year, the Cruzerio Real became the Real, the name of the Portuguese currency created in 1112 and used in Brazil from the 1500s until 1942, when President Getulio Vargas first introduced the Cruzeiro.
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's ''Real Plan'' started with great promise by stopping runaway inflation, which had been 4,850 percent in the 12 months before it began last July. Projected annual inflation is now estimated between 25 to 40 percent.
When the government reacted to the Mexican financial crisis by devaluing the Real by 6 percent in March, analysts predicted more devaluations would follow and that the Real was in deep trouble. Others say it is too early to tell.
''I think the Real Plan still has a good chance to succeed,'' says Richard Foster, editor of the Brasilia-based business newsletter, Brazil Watch. ''But there is so much cynicism here that people believe any little sign means the end. It's part of their psychic reality.''