Fonden isn't just "Big", it's this big.

Perhaps the most important aspect of The Fonden Papers doesn’t have to do with the $29 billion tabulation screw-up. Indeed, innocent explanations might account for that. Perhaps the big deal instead has to do with simply getting, for the first time, a sense of Fonden’s scale, of its weight in the Venezuelan government’s overall fiscal picture.

Until the papers were disclosed, all we could say was that Fonden was “big”. Now, we can tell you exactly how big.

As with everything else in Venezuela these days, it depends on which exchange rate you use. Last year, once you add in all the créditos adicionales, the Venezuelan government spent Bs.229 billion. Fonden spent $9.5 billion and the Chinese fund $2.2 billion.

So, if you go by the artificially overvalued official exchange rate, Fonden accounted for 14.8% of public spending in 2010, and the Fondo Chino for another 3.4%.

If you go by the more realistic black market exchange rate, Fonden was 24.2% of public spending last year, the Chinese Fund 5.6%, and the “legal” part – the Bs.229 spent through the budget and legally approved créditos adicionales – was just 70.3%.