Finding the story in our squalid news


One of the things that I find most disappointing about the Venezuelan press is how they frequently miss the important aspects of the stories they pretend to report.

Take, for example, this item on a recent opinion poll by respected pollster Datos. The headline is that 70% of Venezuelans reject the government’s policy of expropriating private companies.

But, here’s a newsflash for the newspaper: we knew that.

In November of 2010, Datanálisis found that 74% of the population rejected expropriations. In May of 2010, Keller Associates reported that the percentage was 80%. The percentages vary according to the pollster – presumably, according to the way the question is posed. But the rejection itself is not newsworthy. It is a longstanding fact of Venezuelan public opinion.

The prime rib of today’s story is hidden deep in the sixth paragraph. There, we learn that Datos finds that the rejection of expropriations is actually increasing: from a 59% rejection in the second quarter of 2010, to a 60% rejection rate in the third quarter, to 70% rejection in the fourth quarter.

The increasing rejection rates of the government’s prime economic policy is what is remarkable. The more the government expropriates, the more the population actually sees what happens with companies after they are expropriated, and the more they reject the concept. The trend is what is interesting about this, not the percentage itself.

Another example of missing the point is from yesterday’s soap opera involving the Banco Provincial. In case you didn’t know, Hugo Chávez basically threatened to take over the nation’s largest bank … while on a televised cell phone call to the bank’s CEO. Miguel has the depressing lowdown.

After this happened yesterday, the Banco Provincial proceeded to issue a press release. Among other platitudes about always being in compliance with the law, the bank – which, I repeat, is the nation’s largest – flaunted the fact that last year it had helped 3,256 families buy a home.

Well, that’s all nice and dandy, except when you stop to think about the fact that there are two million families without a home in the country. The Banco Provincial’s lucky few represent roughly 0.16% of the total amount of families without a home in the country.

The fact that the nation’s largest bank is basically a non-entity in the housing market should cause some sort of mini-scandal, right? I mean, if I were President, I’d be wanting to kick some ass myself!

But no, the news here is that Chávez does crazy things.

The fact that our mainstream media cannot be bothered to provide the necessary context for a healthy public debate is part of the reason why our public sphere is so … squalid. Hopefully, the rise of alternative media can help elevate the debate some more, because Lord knows we need it.

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  1. Did you mean kick (not kiss) some ass yourself? ;o)

    PS. If you haven’t realized I’m in an all day workshop, bored to tears, and channeling Kepler.

  2. “I mean, if I were President, I’d be wanting to kick some ass myself!”

    I don’t get it, JC. Are you suggesting that it’s the bank’s fault that it’s not more involved in the housing market?

    Here I thought it was the Chavismo-inflicted knee-capping of the economy that would better explain why people aren’t getting loans for housing, because their personal economic situations now and in the foreseeable future (never mind the country’s) are so ****ed up they’re not even considering applying for loans in the first place.

    • Maybe, somebody should contact Carter and ask for advise on how to collapse banks by passing laws that forced the latter to give loans to people who could not pay them back. Does the 1977 Comnunity Reinvestment Act ring a bell?

  3. So Banco Provincial issued 3,256 loans last year. What does this represent as a percentage of the total loans given by the bank? … or some other method to measure this. Then, how does this compare to other banks? Specially public banks.

    • I think the question is less about how many loans in year, and more about what share of their lending portfolio is committed to housing. I checked their balance sheet from December, and the level of detail isn’t enough to see. And you’re spot on to want to compare. The lending market in Venezuela is so distorted – both for the government mandates on how to loan, as Maria refers to, and the other ways the economy is screwed up, like Mike Nelson said – that you can’t compare it to the ratio in any other country, just other banks in Venezuela.

      One thing to consider: banks may have less money available to lend on housing because they’re committing so much to government securities, which are profitable for them because of they way the government has distorted the foreign exchange market. And it’s much easier to comply with government-mandated lending ratios when you’re not making many loans. Banks have required minimum percentages for small business, agriculture, I can’t remember what else (not to mention maximum rates). You reach your equilibrium point in the lending portfolio and do as little as possible to stay there, otherwise you run afoul of the law. As we see in this case, even that isn’t enough.

  4. For one, I am happy to see that XXIst. Century Socialism will make free market capitalists of Venezuelans, by the time it finishes trying to implement it’s goals. It’s more or less like Europe: the most vocal (and romantic) admirers of Socialism Cuban (and Venezuelan parody thereof) style can be found in Western portion of Europe; as opposed to the Eastern part, where they actually experienced it, the Easterners want no part of it and consider it just about as sexy as Russian domination and garrisoning.

    On the other hand, in my opinion that the largest private bank is not more involved in housing is just a sign of just how diseased the Venezuelan economy is. Even when trying to comply with the stupidest decrees and laws regarding housing this side of Cuba, the bank probably does assessment of viability and risk to prospective loan recipients. Guess how it comes out, when assessing a person living on a salary lower than that of a CEO, and with Venezuelan prices for housing (diseased economy and bloated cities). That of course does not include legal uncertainty, including the latest manic episode of Hugo Chavez, and tattling by some dissed chavista.

  5. Given the conversation, this excerpt from a 2009 article in El Universal in 2009 might be of interest.

    In 10 years of government of Hugh Chávez Frías, 1.5 housing units were built per 1,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile from 1989-998 3.33 housing units per 1,000 units were built. From 1979-1988, 4.9 housing units per 1,000 inhabitants were built. [my translation]

    These figures would be for public plus private construction [Other data such as the below source is consulted to conclude public + private.]

    Not current, as it dates from 2006, but good data set for 1990-2005 : El Déficit y la Producción Formal de Viviendas.

  6. Juan

    What you are missing is that according to the bank laws “la cartera de creditos hipotecarios” cannot function. That is, if you go to the bank and ask for a loan in government conditions you simply cannot qualify for it because your projected purchase is above the benchmark. And if you want a loan for the real value of your home, you can get it, no problem if you qualify, but the conditions are so harsh that it is cheaper to buy cash. That is the way the market work in Venezuela, most homes now are bought cash. It is really not the fault of Provincial that it did not give more loans: it simply cannot offer affordable loans for affordable homes because those do not exist. Ask about the governemt banks how many loans they offered……. you are better off gettign your rancho washed away becasue in the end Chavez might give you a home for free……

    • This post isn’t really about banking policy or the Banco Provincial’s responsibility, but about the media’s role in reporting the issue. It seems to me that the fact that the nation’s largest bank doesn’t lend out money to people wanting to buy a home is worthy of a more in-depth treatment.

      So while your description may be accurate, albeit too light on laying the blame at the bank’s footstep, my beef is with the media really.

    • Juan

      Far from me to defend the Venezuelan media. Neither you or I would have invested so much into our blog writing if it were not because of our diassatisfaction with the local papers.

      However, your example of outrage is not well chosen. Or are you advocating that the Provincial should complain bitterly to Chavez, through the media I presume, to the effect of bitching at the inexistence of affordable housing? And thus to draw attention to be nationalized even faster?

      There is also one thing called “cartera agricola” which like the housing share is mandatory. That one is generally fullfilled and yet the risk might even be greater than the real estate portfolio. I bet you that this was one of the things that the Provincial CEO wanted to tell Chavez but this one shut him up from doing.

    • On the contrary, my examples are well chosen. Look, the issue here is not whether Chavez was right or not in threatening the president of the Bank. The issue here is that, for years now, Venezuelans have not had access to the financial market to better their lives. Whether that is the fault of the government or the banks is up for debate. But the communique is alarming in that the Banco Provincial apparently believes that handing out loans to 0.16% of the population needing a home merits a self-pat on the back. That says a lot about the culture in the bank.

      Why isn’t there a discussion of this in Venezuelan media?

    • I buy your point main point, that journalists are focusing on the wrong thing. But your banking example is taking away from the main point. Perhaps what Daniel Duquenal means is that, given conditions under which banks are being forced to work, 0.16% does merit a self-pat on the back; no one else is going to pat them on the back for what in Venezuela’s shameful reality is truly quite an accomplishment.

    • I think you’re being way too lenient on our banks. Here is the ABV’s proposals for getting the housing market moving:

      In summary: more taxes, more government spending, more commissions for the banks.

      I guess the bankers have a good deal. They do whatever they want, treat their customers like crap, finance the government, their profits fall out of the sky, and if the shit hits the fan … the government bails them out and they enjoy exile in Miami.

      The government’s not the only thing that’s fucked up in Venezuela guys.

    • Your stating that we may be being too lenient on the banks implies that you believe that the Venezuelan situation is such that banks could easily be lending money to many more people for home loans, which directly contradicts Daniel Duquenal’s comment on the sub topic, yet you don’t provide support for your belief, whereas DD provided several details for his argument.

      I guess your comment proves your main point: journalist are focusing on the wrong thing. Like I said, I buy your main point…

  7. You write: “The fact that our mainstream media cannot be bothered to provide the necessary context for a healthy public debate is part of the reason why our public sphere is so … squalid.”

    On that I can agree but not necessarily on this: “The fact that the nation’s largest bank is basically a non-entity in the housing market should cause some sort of mini-scandal, right?”

    The fact is that the 3,256 families helped when buying a home might constitute 100% or even more of the families that when buying a home might afford to take a loan and services… for instance in the US… many banks would kill for such a low exposure to home financing.

    • “Many banks would kill for such a low exposure to home financing.”

      Sure, but this is surely Chávez’s point: there are laws on the books to force them to take more risk than that!

    • “might constitute 100% or even more of the families that when buying a home might afford to take a loan and services”

      I think this leads us to the conclusion that the 2 million people who don’t have homes are screwed because they’re poor. That is simply wrong. This is a market failure, and many of those people would qualify for loans and could afford a home if the market functioned properly.

    • “Sure, but this is surely Chávez’s point: there are laws on the books to force them to take more risk than that!”

      there might be laws, but those do not warp reality. They also do not bind Hugo Chavez and make him less unpredictable or less hostile.

      “I think this leads us to the conclusion that the 2 million people who don’t have homes are screwed because they’re poor. ”

      They are screwed because Venezuelan style social democracy and Venezuelan style socialism have made this country a “rich man’s world”, and them poor. By the same token, they can neither afford to rent in a city. But surely property owners in cities are to blame… NOT!

      “This is a market failure, and many of those people would qualify for loans and could afford a home if the market functioned properly.”

      Remember that most of the economy, this being Petrostate Venezuela going towards “Socialism”, was (for all practical purposes) NEVER market-oriented. And most of the banks prefer to live off oil wealth too.

  8. I’ve had this vision for a long time that the banks are hanging on just trying to outlive Chavez, forget about mortgage financing or other ventures. How any bank functions in the uncertainty of Venezuela is unfathomable to me, outside of arbitrage (illegal?). Over valued currency (still!), forced loans, threats of expropriation for a long time, threats of socialist economics (not conducive to profits)………’s all just amazing. I would never side with Chavez on this issue – never ever. Sorry but I’m with Daniel and MO on the banking issue.

  9. What matters is not what they lent last year, but what is the total amount of loans they have for housing. Remember, banks are forced to have “gavetas” you have to lend so much for agriculture, so much for tourism, so much for mortgages, etc. Banco Provincial’s mortgage “gaveta” has been full for two years, because on top of that it is done at deeply negative interest rates, so the lucky few that get it are obtaining a juicy subsidy from us all.

  10. BTW Government owned banks do not satisfy the “gavetas” nor are they penalized for it. Banco de Venezuela is 20% larger in deposits than Provincial, but all of its loans are 22 billion versus 28 billion for Provincial. BTW Venezuela, Banesco and Mercantil are all larger than Provincial by deposits.

    • This was my point above. Provincial’s loans for housing may sound low, but are they better or worse than other banks’. Also, one cannot expect all the banks to give loans to all the 2M families in one year. I don’t know how many banks there are in Venezuela. Let’s say 30 (no clue), and each one on average gives out 3000 loans for a total of 90,000 loans. Then there wouldn’t be enough new homes to purchase with those loans anyways.

  11. I really don’t see it as bragging. They have complied with the laws, they have satisfied their quotas. If there were no quotas or preferential rates, maybe they would give out more mortgages, but when everything is controlled like it is today, there is no room for maneuver. I am sure Provincial would prefer to give out more mortgages than toruism loans, for example, but they can’t. The whole financial system is full of distortions created by the Government, remarkably, those same distortions allow them to make a lot of money.

    • Notice how this is an interesting and important debate, one that our local media simply can’t be bothered with promoting.

  12. What I find truly disgraceful is how the Government banks are treated differently. Chavez’ “idea” behind owning them was precisely so that they would compete and do what private sector banks were not doing. The large private banks intermediation ratio (% of deposits giving out as loans) is in the range of 62% to 69%, while Banco de Venezuela is down to 46%, Banco del Tesoro is 42%, Bicentenario is 32% and don’t laugh, the Municipal Bank for lending is 9%. On top of that Banco del Tesoro was exempt yesterday from the legal reserve at the Central Bank for three years.

  13. Everyone knows the media is sub-standard. The question is why. Is it because all/most of the good people have left? Is it because there is a lethargy in Venezuelan society towards meaty stories? (I mean after the huge ‘maletagate’ story that became nothing where else is there to go?!) Is it because the media are being squeezed by the Government?

  14. The whole housing part of the post is the most ignorant thing I’ve read in this blog in years.

    Tell me, JC, are there a million or so empty houses resting idly on the Venezuelan countryside because the evil banks aren’t lending money to the good and noble people to buy them? Of course not, you dummy.

    This might be a shock to you, but getting a loan from a bank doesn’t actually make a house appear out of nowhere fully equipped and functional. That’s not the way reality works.

    The problem with housing in Venezuela has absolutely nothing to do with banks. Just about every house or apartment built in the country gets sold. It’s not like constructors have a hard time selling. And it sure isn’t that the don’t want to make more houses. They just can’t. In a country where all services (water, electricity, etc.) and plenty of the materials required (e.g., cement) are provided/controlled by an incredibly corrupt and incompetent government, just getting the most basic permits required to add water to your construction might take more time (and some times more money) than the actual building of the house.

    And while we’re at it, loans don’t create money, they create debt. Even with a loan, you still need to have/make money to buy a house. Getting a loan just spreads the amount of time you need to pay for it, so if you don’t have the money or the capacity to make money, getting a loan won’t do you any good.

    • Um … where did I say it was all the evil banks’ fault?

      You may be a Builder, but you’re not much of a reader. The post is about the media, it’s not about the banks, and it most certainly is not about the housing crisis.

      Sacude chamo.

      As for this: “The problem with housing in Venezuela has absolutely nothing to do with banks.” Well, that right there speaks for itself. But a dummy like me finds it a bit counter-intuitive.

  15. For perspective, El Universal in 2009 has some historical information on housing construction:

    In 10 years of the government of Hugo Chávez Frías [199-2008], 1.5 housing units per year per 1,000 inhabitants were built. Whereas, from 1989-1998, 3.33 units per year per 1,000 inhabitants were built. From 1979-1988, 4.9 units per year per 1,000 inhabitants were built.

    In looking at housing construction data from CVC.VE in 2006, El Déficit y la Producción Formal de Viviendas, I conclude that the housing units per 1,000 inhabitants figures in El Universal refer to public plus private construction. [the translation takes this into account.]
    I have not been able to find housing construction data on government sites, thus the recourse to private sites.

  16. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Juan. I agree with you that the ensuing debate regarding the current housing and lending situation tends to validate your main point – that the Venezuelan information and media system is failing to provide sufficient data and analysis. So here’s a follow up question on that: What do you have in mind when you refer to “the rise of alternative media”? What does “alternative” mean, and how should it be encouraged, organized, and funded in Venezuela?

    • Well, good question. By alternative media, I mean blogs mostly. Community radio is too far-fetched a term for Venezuela, and the only things classified as such are really just government-funded arms of the Revolution. And the written press is struggling for survival.

      So by alternative media, I mean people like us, like other blogs, who are simply taking their keyboard and sounding off. These are the places where there is the most potential for interesting debate. Sadly, there is little to no funding for this sort of thing, although that may change in the near future as Quico and I devote more time and resources to getting CC to be bigger and bolder – and better funded.

      As much as I disagree with a lot of the things they say, blogs like the Huffington Post here in the US and countless others play a large, and increasing, role in driving the debate. It’s about time the same thing happened in Venezuela. If we expect our public debates to continue to be mandated by Gustavo Cisneros, Andres Mata, and Miguel H. Otero, we’ll never advance in the enrichment of our public sphere.

  17. Not as a troll, but as a declared socialist whose model of government is the post WWII German one, as in Adenauer & Merkel, I salute my ideological opponent Juan Cristóbal for gallantly surmounting the unwarranted attacks of those who insist on a united front, by which they mean “no internal disidence”; theirs is a clumsy tactic if what they aspire to is to be considered a “fuerza de oposición” worth its salt. The mood, even among the most abject halagónadas of the neocons & casino capitalist is to pretend reasonability, to put on airs of conciliation. It is the wrong time to praise Wall Street, its god Mammon & the correlative merchants. An oppositional blog has to brave those muddy waters if it to survive amidst so many mediatic enterprises headed by “argentinos” passing as gallegos, as the one below, aptly named Debate

    Both Francisco Toro, the main engine behind Caracas Chronicles, and Juan Cristóbal do a fine job, intelligent and informed and valiant, as few other blogs I know (I mostly visit the blogs of my leftist friends and get quite burpy after each session, to be honest)

    The comments here are mostly very estimulating, albeit contrary to my way of thinking. They are informed, intelligent, outspoken and respectful …yes, even despite the arrechera some of them experience due to my “provocations”. I no longer post on content, but I do read the CarChron, right after I read Der Spiegel. Consider this a comment not on contents as in style and tone, “de forma y no de fondo”. Danke.
    María Eugenia

  18. yes you are on the right, with Lieberman & Palin probably, since your Bush is gone, but relax Obama is a Wall Street project too, so you have nothing to fear

    “Not even Jesus can stop the decline of the US”, and I am the first one to lament it, because it is a great nation… but it sold its souls to the banksters & merchants, & they sold its military secrets to the Chinese

  19. @JC, thanks. It’d be ridiculous for me to present THE answer to any Venezuelan problem, given that I live in L.A. and have been away for so long.
    However it has been my aim, since I studied with Manuel Caballero and Pedro Cunill Grau and Clemy Machado de Acedo at the UCV and with Aníbal Romero at the UCAB, to have a world view of any country’s affairs, and I have lived in three countries: Venezuela, Spain and the US.
    If my tone is somewhat informal at times it is because I am comedian as well, as in belonging to a theatre company. Being the mom of a former teen-from-hell (smirk) also helps take denunciations, declarations and proclamations in a light vein. I just drove the former wouldbescientistactresslawyer to her first modeling show in Long Beach, at 5 a.m.! (hope she does not read this, cause she just graduated from UCLA and is preparing to enter law school). Well, hopefully not many chismosos. Onward.

    As a professor I am not alien to reading books, and as a former reporter, I check on a daily basis several websites covering the whole right-to-left spectrum, from countries like the US, Venezuela, Chile, Spain & Mexico, plus some blogs from colleagues.

    I ocassionally read authors like William Greider so as to keep up to date with his exchanges with Paul Krugman. I don’t have my Banco Central de Venezuela tío on hand to explain things to me, but I get by, anyway. As for genius economists of the right-wing persuasion, nobeled prized and all, well let me just say that at USC I got enough Milton Friedman to keep my ears ringing for a life time. And them geniuses, with all their think-tanks and millions and endowed chairs, they only predict what is to be fulfilled by their FED cronies; as for the rest of the prophecies, well they would not deign notice a bonfire right under their arses. And it WILL come, I predict.

    In the last few months I have also started to peruse over two “news” websites, one Chinese, the other Russian (both with T&As scattered here and there for male entertainment, the Russian ones being bigger and pinker): Xin Hua, & Russia Today. RT, the smiling face of the Russian government so to speak, but not a full blown tabloid like The Sun or any New York venture.
    RT analyzes in detail the decline of the US, a predictable proclivity in the formerly communist Russian empire, which is still fascinated with the decline of empires.
    Much as RT contemplates the alternative —to US casinocapitalism— in a so called Euroasian alliance, counterpointed to the Titanic US, they cannot but acknowledge that without China that alliance is highly unlikely. And China has its own imperial designs, albeit within the pragmatic formula of “one country, two systems”. China is managing the country quite well (as long as the majority of the Chinese remain either poor farmers or the updated version of coolies), so as to prevent having to take off the mask and let down the smashing fist of communism. However, China would need “Euroasian” resources if there were a major hunger (& Monsanto knows this).

    Venezuela should aim for a mixed-system (MS) and design its own LatinAmerican MS model, but at the same study the European MS, or the Russian one, or the Chinese… (I would have mentioned another secular country, in the Middle East, but it no longer exists after the Iraqi holocaust)

    Mixed systems keep on sprouting all over, Chile and Brazil being the latest additions, though Brazil has one of the highest world levels of concentration of wealth at the 1% top (GINI index). It is the right time to examine this MSs, to start bringing up this issue of conciliation. It still is THE TIME but it won’t last. It has to be done before the Obama reelection. It has to be done on the momentum provided by the US Council of Foreign Relations.

    I do not understand why Chavez, who is courting Cuba, China, Russia, Iran et al, and seems to be “la fea del baile que baila con quien sea”, does not give a break to the Germans. It must be because they are white. Or maybe because they are critisizing him. In any case, something smells dumb (and I hope it ain’t me).

    The best model is the German model and even “socialist” Zapatero, right after his casino ventures went burst, suggested that Spain follow it. ZaP was a big critic of Angela Merkel back when she was warning against the trillionaire Derivatives market (credit default swaps & other paper-on-paper junk), but Bush & GolmanSacks were still considered hot stuff. Post WWII Germany managed to combine capitalism and socialism (understood as the protection of basic rights, right to full employment, to universal health insurance, to being a part of the high level decisions). Germany paid deaf ears to the doom sayers of Wall Street/The American Spectator (“oh no, it’s never gonna woooork, the nightmare, THE DAY AFTER”) and Reunification did take place guided by Kohl’s firm hand and clear head, the Treuhand insured a quick integration and the euro started picking up in yet another German miracle. I was in Germany, at the Adenauer Stiftung, accompanying my husband, and, by pure chance, had the honor of taking a bouquet of roses to the chancellor’s tomb, picked from his own garden, planted by his hand. There was a Latin American diplomat with me, helping me find Adenauer’s resting place; he was looking for a big marble mausoleum, full of angels blowing trumpets, when all of a sudden the gardener pointed to a small tombstone on a corner, almost right under our feet. “Raros estos alemanes, ¿no?”

    After the latest bubble burst with Lehman Bros., Deutsche Bank took additional measures to control them high-financiers. Germany backs the euro and will survive the present crisis, probably with some Russian help of the side. They have historical ties since Peter and Catherine. Angela Merkel is trying to smooth the bumps.

    I have learned to brave the weather and to see my own self as a wave in the whirling ocean of Leviathan. I do not think Chavez is an authoritarian ruler, in as much as he keeps on winning popular elections and doing a lot of good for el pueblo. I don’t want him to become a perennial ruler, but I also appreciate the achievements of bolivarianism in favor of people, and I know that without his popularist style and smart ways he would not have been able to survive the Carmona coup, the oil embargo, the CIA meddling, the ambassador Palmerston latest imbroglio and so on…
    The thing that worries me the most about Venezuela is the crime rate, and that it is directly related to drugs, thus to Colombia, thus to the paramilitary, thus to the CIA, thus to who knows (but I can gue$$, another Iran-Contra drug deal).

    For all the above reasons, and for the best of Venezuela and the world, I for one would welcome an informed and balanced opposition party or, better, two. Venezuela still faces a great disparity in income; proportionally speaking, it is a similar ratio to the ones in Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and the US (I said ‘income’ and not ‘wealth’).

    My country of birth should be on track, midground from the extremes of financial highjacking (FED, Wall St.) and failed communist systems. For lack of real debate on any site, I listen with attention to what German economist William Engdahl has to say; no he’s not Elijah but… time is running out

  20. AIO

    hehe , even Alaskans are Southerners to an Eskimo?Good one.That just goes to show us how SOMETIMES divisions are all artificial in the mind’s of pundits and the ‘center’ exists only in the context of their own point of view.I wish more people would realize this then they would stop making nonsensical comments like the one Maria Eugenia made.Lieberman defines himself as a moderate which is what he is in our political terminology, but Mariaeu seems to put her self in the center of the Universe where she sees him so far to the right:)


    Lieberman is truly hated by the far left, I know that, which is unfortunate, because we have so few moderates.I also know that it is the Liberal Democrats, not the moderate ones who lend their applause to Chavez.

    It is also unfortunate that so many wing nuts( hard left and right) appear harder on the center than on the end of the circle , it seems that in some ways wings find themselves more in agreement with each other than with us.

  21. Lieberman is an AIPAC-man who works for the Likud (hopefully not also for the Mossad) just like his buddy Richard Perle, a.k.a. “The Prince of Darkness, who was caught spying and selling US secrets to Israel by orders of his boss Biby Netanyahu, at whose command he chaired the study “A Clean Break”.
    He is part of the New “American” Century, and cherry-picked intelligence of the Official of Special Intelligence (Feith, Abramovitz, Wumser and rest of the vile rabble who should be outsourced and soon). He was key in preparing the Iraqi holocaust, and is a key figure in what oil expert and geo-politician William Engehlman calls “Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order”

    Perle was involved in two ventures, Global Crossing and Trireme, one to sell optic fiber to the Chinese for military purposes, the other to self software to the Pentagon (which might have some defective lil something, methinks)

    Lieberman is just the AIPAC pawn for the Likud; Perle is the high level spy & arms dealer. Thanks, FirePillette

  22. you might want to tell your likudite friends not to support Pharaoh Tutankabrón Mubarak & his torture boy Omar so openly; they have feign democracy just for a lil longer

    and since you are so loyal to, say, New York, here is a chic mag for you Pillette

  23. FirePillete’s “moderate” Lieberman is the author of the “Kill switch bill”, which would grant the President emergency powers over the Internet. Good ole Joe wants to emulate Mubarak; Lieberman is an Israel-firster & was a Bush boy while that fool was of any use to them; his former state, Connecticut, home of the insurance companies that started our present financial ruin, ousted him because of his “moderate” role in linking Al Qaeda to Iraq, in preparation of the Iraqi holocaust (aided the AIPAC-men in the Office of Disinformation, also known as Office of Special Intelligence, I’ll say)

    Greenspan’s boy, “moderate” Ben Bernake, immediately authorized the transfer of 98% of the US wealth to the top banksters at the Temple, and made sure Goldman SACKS was kept in place (thus the Roths), and that Blankfein got his bonus.

    “moderate” Chertoff, Mossad agent’s son, another one with a double citizenship, headed Homeland Security and wanted the Patriot Act to do some “extraordinary rendition” (kidnapping & torture, like what the Mossad did to Mordechai Vanunu) on ordinary American citizens, in case they were suspects of whatever he damn well pleases, or his bosses in Tel Aviv. You can rejoice in his noble features in this pic

    You moderate you

  24. I am with Juan on this one. The fact that the major bank in the country provides 0.16% of the needed loans is news in itself, wether the fault is on the bank, the goverment, Chávez, the system, the laws or any combination of the above.

    It is a major issue and NOBODY is reporting it. Everybody prefers to concentrate on the details, the circus of Chávez saying this or that on prime TV rather on the problem behind the data.

    We need data minners as journalists and good politicians that know how to exploit that data.

    Excellent point Juan

    • 0.16% is on the 2,000,000 homes that are required in the country, so to me it does not make much sense to calculate it this way. It should be a percentage of all the loans given last year by all the banks. If, let’s say, 40,000 homes were built, it would mean that Provincial gave 8.14% of the required homes. Whether that’s a good number or not, I don’t know. But a debate would need to start based on the right figures.

    • @Fred: While I agree that looking at Provincial’s lending in the context of actual lending is significant, it remains important to ask whether total actual lending is sufficient, and how that compares to other historical periods and comparable countries. In the end, meeting the total demand for housing is the goal, so if actual lending falls woefully short on the national level, it’s not necessarily good enough for Provincial to shrug and say, “Yeah, well, we contributed our fair share to the total failure.”

  25. Rp

    What I’m saying is that one needs to compare the lending to the numbers of houses in the market. I don’t think you can compare it to other countries because the conditions will probably be way too different for comparison. To other periods in Venezuela, maybe, as long as you bring all the numbers to a common denominator.

    There will only be X number of people applying for a loan. If there’re X-Y=Z houses available, that’s the number of loans that will be granted. You cannot get a loan for a home that doesn’t exist. So if only 20,000 homes are built, that’s roughly the number of loans that will be issued. So even if a bank wanted to issue more loans, there wouldn’t be enough homes to issued them against.

    • I agree, Fred, that comparisons are difficult, especially with other nations. I just meant to suggest that it may be useful to look to other systems in an attempt to identify where the current Venezuelan system is falling short.

      I’m not sure if I follow your logic; what is the Y in your equation? In any case, I would think that people get loans for non-existent homes quite often. In the US these are referred to as “new builds”, right? I imagine that there are plenty of Venezuelan families that would take advantage of a loan to title a piece of land and erect a new structure themselves. If Venezuela is anything like Panama, where I’ve spent more time, impoverished people may choose to actually perform the construction, whereas the middle class would probably hire a contractor.

      Moreover, when analyzing the national picture, I expect that it’s crucial to take loans to builders / developers into account, so we’re not necessarily just talking about loans to private, individual homeowners – though the Provincial numbers may be restricted to that category. For private developers, we are indeed talking about non-existent homes; they take out loans to build, and then they sell to individuals, who generally also take out loans to buy. Which just goes to reinforce the point that the discussion regarding Provincial should be contextualized within a national level discussion about housing or the lack thereof.

  26. Rp:

    X=people looking for homes, Y=homes not being built, Z=actual homes being built.
    The loans I’m talking about are those given to individuals. These loans are for homes already built or being built by a large contractor that has enough collateral in case the home is not built or the loan not paid. And as you’ve said, you can also get a loan to build a home in your own plot of land.

    I guess my original point was that you cannot use as a reference the 2,000,000 homes needed because these will take, with some luck, some 15 years to build and no bank is going to give you a loan today for something being built 15 years from now. So the 3000 or so loans given by Provincial may or may not be a large number. As JC indicated, his main point was that journalists don’t do enough research to determine what numbers mean. They just hear a number and throw it out there to see what happens.

    • Thanks, Fred. I do follow your logic and understand your point. I guess it depends how one views the frame of the story being “missed” here. Is the story about Provincial not keeping up with other lenders? Or is it about the Venezuelan lending system not adequately addressing the national need? From my point of view, the former is just a component of the latter, and it’s the latter – a story about the best way to meet social needs in general – that more interests me. But that’s just me.

    • The 3000 loans is most definitely *not* a large number. And the figures are correct. You may disagree with the ratio, but that’s an entirely different thing. I assume the Provincial’s loan total is not going to look so bad if you compare it to the loans other banks are giving. But that’s not the right comparison if you want to ask the question of whether or not the financial system is meeting the needs of the people, and why.

  27. JC

    From what I can tell, and I may be way off, all the homes built are sold. So if 100 people are looking for homes and loans, only 50 homes become available* and the financial system gives out 50 loans. Then it wouldn’t be the financial system being at fault. But like you said in the post, investigative reporting is needed to determine whether or not the financial system is meeting the needs of the people or if the problem is the construction companies or the government or whatever.

    *homes available=homes built, people with land building their own, etc.


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