I Got the Eudomar Blues

Last week, when Eudomar Tovar was named Central Bank head, lots was said about the new breed of Merentes-backed “pragmatists” in the nation’s top economic policy-making posts, with Tovar seen as a welcome break from the looney-tunes chavista orthodoxy of his predecessor.

This misstates the problem: it’s not about ideology, it’s about basic competence. At the risk of going on-and-on-about-this, I think we should be clear: there is no evidence in the public sphere that Eudomar Tovar is anything other than a blathering idiot.

His maiden press conference yesterday, which dramatically displayed his inability to read a simple bar chart, makes for amazing viewing.

This is a guy who struggles with the basics of formal Spanish syntax and diction. We see him stumbling through a mangled explanation of a simple table, happily contradicting the information being displayed directly behind him, pausing only to drop in such enlightening tidbits as the fact that when unemployment goes down, it means more people are working.

It makes for a sad, painful spectacle, one that raises all sorts of questions…not least of which is, do they pay him by the number of times he says “por supuesto”?!

For all the Eudomar-the-pragmatist hype, the element of continuity with the know-nothing Stalinish who preceded him is strong. Like Edmée, Eudomar at no point gives any hint that he understands what a Central Bank is, what it is for, or what its chairman’s role is.

It’s really quite remarkable: for the second time in a row we have a Central Bank head who doesn’t speak monetary policy. I don’t mean the fancy stuff, I mean the bare bones basics: Eudomar Tovar can’t seem to articulate a basic understanding of the link between money, the price level and shortages. Watch!

Really?! “Férrea cordinación” between you and the Finance Ministry?! That’s the best you can do as an answer to a question about shortages?!

Either he genuinely doesn’t get it – which I can’t really bring myself to believe, because the guy did study macroeconomics and bits of it must have stuck – or the intellectual climate chavismo fosters renders it politically toxic to be seen to understand the link between monetary aggregates, inflation, price controls and shortages.

After all, the revolutionarily correct line is clear: inflation and shortages are all down to heartless speculators. The end.

Still, it staggers me. I mean, you’d think a basic self-preservation instinct would push a government facing inflation and shortages as top national concerns to appoint someone minimally competent to understand the issues at stake. You’d think if there’s one area where they’d realize they need to project an aura of managerial competence to the people who they depend on more and more – the bondholders – it’d be here.

Pero no, chamo, ni eso.

I have seen the Iceberg that the Titanic that is Venezuela is headed into, and its name is Eudomar Tovar.