Hagamos dos, tres, ¡muchos bancos centrales!

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Quico says: Another hat tip to Miguel for pointing out this hallucinatory interview with Central Bank director Domingo Maza Zavala in yesterday’s El Universal.

The Maza Zavala we meet here is a man at the end of his tether. Plainly exasperated that the Central Bank has lost control of the nation’s monetary policy, he sounds increasingly like chavismo’s opposition critics: at once alarmed by and resigned to a looming crisis he can no longer prevent.

Particularly noteworthy is his lament that BCV simply doesn’t know what Fonden – Chávez’s private $18 billion “excess reserves” cash stack – does with its money. Turns out that, like the rest of us, BCV has been reduced to working from home-brewed “estimates” of Fonden’s operations, because Fonden simply doesn’t make its accounts available, not even to the Central Bank. All Maza Zavala can do is note that if BCV’s estimates are roughly right, Fonden will soon hold more dollars than BCV does. A situation he sardonically describes as “quite interesting, or curious.”

The interview is worth reading in its chilling, dadaist entirety. There’s an unmistakable through-the-looking-glass feel to Maza Zavala’s predicament. The currency he is legally obligated to defend is one his institution no longer really controls. The reserves that technically back it are more and more being sucked into a kind of bureaucratic black hole. More and more, Maza Zavala is a Central Banker in name only.

In a sense, his interview amounts to preemptive buck-passing. “Don’t come crying to me when this crazy Rube Goldberg-contraption of a monetary policy seizes up completely,” he’s saying. “I might have been able to do something about it, once, but I can’t anymore, I run only the tip of the Central Bank iceberg.”

The amazing thing, to me, is that chavismo no longer seems to have even the elementary self-preservation instinct needed to realize the scale of the chaos they’re sowing. That they won’t let the public know what Fonden is doing – well, that’s par for the course. But that they won’t even tell the Central Bank? That’s not a monetary policy, it’s a mental illness.

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