It's the economy, Nicolás

Inflation, scarcity, crime, and those damn numbers on people’s arms. I shoot off over at the Transitions blog.

My money quote:

Taming inflation would require the government to order their finances, but the administration seems reluctant to do so. For example, according to government sources, giving away gasoline for (practically) nothing costs Venezuelan taxpayers $24 billion in direct subsidies and lost revenues. This amount represents roughly a quarter of all spending included in the 2013 budget. But regardless of how dire the situation is, the government refuses to consider decreasing subsidies because it is fearful of a public backlash.

Unsurprisingly, it is getting harder to find items such as sugar, cooking oil, and corn flour — an essential part of any Venezuelans’ diet. According to latest figures from the Central Bank, scarcity peaked in April to reach a historic record of 21.4 percent. This means that roughly 1 of every 5 products consumers want to purchase is missing from the shelves. Not surprisingly, Venezuelan consumers are being forced to queue for basic staples, sometimes in an undignified manner. The photo above shows shoppers noting their place in line while shopping for corn flour.

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