Spot the Revolution


A neat Bloomberg chart puts things in context. (Numbers are averages for each president’s entire term in office.)

Spot itAnd note, here the yardstick is the crappy second half of the puntofijo era, not the relatively functional first half.

But the charts that best tell the story, though, are the two bullshit-bulldozers The Economist ran:

OIl Prices Before and During Chavez
Despite an enormous oil boom
Poverty dropped no fater than the regional norm
Poverty dropped only marginally faster than in the rest of the region.
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  1. The thing that struck me about your google discussion the other night was the thesis that really, Chavez was a continuation of what proceeded, and the absence of reflection in the press on that point.

  2. Not bad-Chavez had about the same increase in real PTB/capita, with an oil export income 4x the average of the previous 4 presidential periods. Also, for all presidential periods, multiply by 4-5 the real unemployment rate, as measured by civilized world standards.

  3. Economists please correct me: if I divide the oil income by the population, this tells me that all of the per capita GDP under Chavez came from oil??
    Otherwise I think I get the gist: not much has changed, so much for economic growth under Chavez.

    • No, in the bloomberg chart GDP per capita is in constant Bolivares (they don’t say the base year used). Oil exports is in dollars.

      It would have been neater if The Economist had compared the windfall from the CAP I years. Maybe I’ll do it. . .

      • We have to be carefull with the debt-to-GDP ratio. If we’re using nominal GDP, we’re basically assuming oil prices stay at $100+ in the future. The better indicator is debt to real GDP.

        • Helping the bullshit-bulldozer reach larger numbers of readers would be a brief explanation of terms, next to the graphics.

  4. “The Economist” article is excellent, as usual. I believe that Chavez originally took the electoral route influenced by Miquilena, certainly not by Fidel, as stated in the article. Also, a 30% “poverty” index is arguably understated, no matter what the methodology, even now more than ever after the recent devaluation/increase in the Voldemort rate.

  5. Wow that is terrible statistics particularly taking average unemployment, if President A ruled for 2 years and unemployment went from 5% to 15%, but then President B rules for 2 years lowers it from 15% to 5% Both averaged 10% unemployment they are exactly the same!

    Shame on you Francisco for putting up propaganda, more respectable places put up graphs. The WSJ went for the most arcanely negative statistics like %of gross capital investment in cassette players lol.

    • I do agree that there are obvious shortcomings to the Bloomberg chart – most clearly, it makes Lusinchi look way too good. After all, the guy let a huge mass of economic problems and distortions build up under his rule, taking none of the measures needed to face up to them before they blew up in his successor’s face…unsustainable price controls, an unsustainably overvalued currency, unsustainable borrowing, unsustainably cheap gas and an unfinanceable fiscal deficit. The consequences to all of Lusinchi’s fuck-ups end up showing up on the next president’s column, which – if we’re honest here – isn’t particularly fair to President Madur…I mean Pérez.

      • It does not matter what follows, anybody can make a prediction, you yourself have been predicting hyperinflation for a decade now.

        When people talk legacy they speak of the past, is it fair to the successor? maybe not but at least it is factual, not a prediction.

        Chavez should have had better statistics, particularly the tail end when he held so much power, but the WSJ and this blog really is bending backwards to warp reality.

    • Exactly, unemployment is increasing in Venezuela right now, and inflation is absolutely higher than when Chavez came into office. So these statistics are misleadingly kind to Chavez. Really, you need to look at where things will be a year from now as a result of Chavez’s policies once devaluation and cuts set in: higher inflation and higher unemployment. Already inflation in 2012 was about 30% (with widespread shortages) vs 23% when he came into office! Just comparing averages is not sensible.

        • Cool Grauniad chart with 2009 unemployment, 2012 inflation, absolute figures, relative figures and charts all mixed up. No one cares about the most recent bout of devaluation.

          And hey man don’t make that glock as big as the red wad of franklins; we don’t want to scare off the non-American readers.

          • Opec reported Venezuela’s oil exports for 2011 as $ 86 billion not as $ 60 billion , which can cause confusion because a large part of Venezuela’s exports are to countries which pay them as long term loans (so no actual money comes to Venezuela for years) or in terms of commodity exchanges which are often difficult to price . Inflation is always a personal problem for me in that each time my wife comes from the market or the chemists she is adamant that the official inflation statistics are substantially under-reported to put it mildly . Someday I would like to put the people who come up with these relatively limp inflation statistics to asses them face to face with my wife , an exercise which I suspect would help ,make them more credible !!

        • I went to the World Bank: World Development Indicators website to get some data. For Infant Mortality, 1999 and 2011:
          Venezuela 19.6 12.9
          Latin America 29.4 16.2
          % reduction in Infant Mortality, 1999-2011:
          Venezuela 34%
          Latin America 45%
          These figures do not suggest that Venezuela’s progress in reducing Infant Mortality is exemplary compared to the rest of Latin America. Rather run of the mill, instead. As Infant Mortality is often considered the gold standard for measuring public health, this suggests that progress in public health- Misiones or not- has been so-so during Chavismo.

          Per capita income figures, when calculated in dollars, are very dicey considering the fluctuations in exchange rates. The phrase “funny money” comes to mind.

        • As I said, inflation is higher now than when Chavez came into office. Unemployment will likely be as well very soon now that massive cuts (which make the American sequester look small) will be needed.

        • First of all, GDP as I understand it includes government borrowing and spending… and employment includes government employees. I would like to review “productivity” figures.


          “Let me quote from the article: “Venezuelans have become noticeably less productive in the last twelve years. And yet, GDP keeps growing.

          The secret to economic growth in the Chávez era is simple: Sit on top of something the whole world wants, sell it at an ever-increasing price, and spend your earnings generously. It has nothing to do with being better at your job.”

        • On the Guardian’s statistics: Anyone who believes that Venezuela’s murder rate in 2011 was 45 (/100,0000) is a prime candidate to purchase a Bridge in Brooklyn I am selling for a very low price.

    • All those great jobs Chavez created! People on government payroll doing nothing but receiving checks. What a vibrant and diverse economy.

  6. The standing ovulation given to Amendinijad by the audience at today’s circus is really scary. I can understand Chavez kissing up to the world’s worst dictators but what has Amendinijad done to deserve this? Does being Chavista automatically mean you support the little Iranian dictator also?

    Maybe the sample was small and biased.

  7. Definitively the most significant statistic is how much more money he received and how meager the improvement in poverty compared to other LA countries.

  8. The debt/gdp statistic is misleading because it is biased downward by the overvalued exchange rate.

    From afar, I did a quick back of the envelope calculation using publicly available data (I don’t know the data well enough though). I added debt by the central government to debt by pdvsa and I get a ratio of 37 percent of GDP (by end 2012, it’s rough because it combines September figures for the CG with December figures for PDVSA), similar to the number you show. Not sure if it includes the fondo chino stuff.

    At the official rate the share of foreign currency denominated debt is about 55 percent. I also assumed that the oil sector is about 20 percent of GDP (which is the share of net oil exports). So a nominal depreciation raises the ratio.

    Moving from 4.3 to 6.3 Bs/$ raises the debt ratio to 43 percent; moving to 8 Bs/$ raises the debt ratio to 47 percent, …, moving to 20 Bs/$ raises the ratio to 64 percent. So the correct ratio is not as low as 37 percent. The key of course is having a good sense of what the relevant exchange rate is.

    Another way would be to look at foreign debt in percent of net oil exports (everything is in dollars so the choice of exchange rate is no longer an issue), and compare that over time. Current ratio is about 91 percent.

  9. I don´t understand the stat Government Spending as percentage of GDP. Is it the more the better? Is 100% the ideal amount? I checked what Wikipedia had to show and there is a list with this exact stat for all countries in 2011. Looking only for first-world countries with good economies I can see anywhere from over 52% for Sweden and France to 38% for USA and even 32% for Switzerland. Then again, I spot a country (Kiribati) with 114.6%. Does that mean it spends more than it produces? But isn’t that just Budget Deficit? Countries that spend less than GDP (most countries), what do they do with the rest of GDP? Maybe I’m mixing different concepts, but this is confusing.

    The Wikipedia article and chart are here:


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