Samanic Possession

100778_Ra0RUKhumVFfk5JIt’s nice to see we’re not the only ones enthralled by Eduardo Samán, the old/new Consumer Protection Agency head who’s quickly become a favorite hate figure for the Venezuelan opposition. ProDaVinci’s Angel Alayón also looks on in fascinated horror, as Samán holds forth on the principles of socialist economics for El Nacional. 

Reporters – ¿Por qué no acepta el argumento de los comerciantes de aumentar precios para cubrir costos de reposición?

Eduardo Samán – Un comerciante siempre prevé que un producto va a venir más caro y al aumentar el precio está provocando inflación.

R– ¿Qué pasa si no cambia el precio y el producto le cuesta más caro cuando lo tenga que reponer?

ES– Él se estaría descapitalizando, pero hay una cosa que se llama bancos, que nacieron en el capitalismo y sirven para capitalizar.

R– ¿Está diciendo que se le pida prestado al banco?

ES– Claro.

R– ¿Se estaría endeudando?

ES– Para eso son los bancos. Para prestar dinero.

R– Pero a lo mejor la empresa no quiere endeudarse ni pagar intereses.

ES– Todo eso se calcula en la estructura de costos.

Isn’t that fantastic?! Eduardo Samán thinks Banks are to the private sector what PDVSA is to the public sector! Selling at a loss? No biggie…just get an endless supply of magic money from somewhere! Easy peasy…

It’s sort of fun to puzzle through what that conversation between the butcher and his bank manager is supposed to go like:

Butcher- Sí, por favor, I’d like a loan. See, beef is costing me Bs.40 per kilo to buy, but I’m only allowed to sell it for Bs. 27.29 a kg. Could you lend me the difference?

Bank Manager- Sure, no problem: how are you planning to pay us back?

Butcher- Oh don’t worry: Eduardo Samán told me prices are going to start falling soon so, just as soon as my procurement costs go below Bs.27.29, I’ll be able to pay you back from the difference!

Bank Manager- Oh no problem then, I can see this loan’s virtually risk free…

I think what makes Samán such a compelling figure is the way he combines a rampaging, near-total inability to grasp how actual economies work with a naïve, almost child-like determination to share his limitless ignorance with anyone willing to lend an ear. In its own way, it’s almost touching…

Listen, near-criminal incompetence from chavista officials ain’t exactly news at this point, but Samán is different. He’s like a medium granting us direct access to the cesspool of half-digested non-sequiturs posing as an ideology that makes up the chavista collective unconscious. Now that Chávez is gone, we sort of need him.

Combine all that with a terrifying measure of real policy-making power and Eduardo Samán is a kind of embodiment of exactly how and why the country is fucked under chavismo.