Zuñi-ordani-nomics 101

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El Método SAZ...
El Método SAZ…

Old lefties have a soft spot for pseudonyms. J.V. Rangel is Marciano, Teodoro is Simon Boccanegra, everybody knows about those. But recently, Felipe Pérez alleged that our own Economic-Policymaker-in-Chief Jorge Giordani has been using the pseudonym Simón Andrés Zúñiga to let the crazy rip on Aporrea.

Reading Zuñiga’s pieces tends to confirm our very worst fears about the precariousness of the government’s thinking about the economy. Zuñi-ordani comes across as deeply dogmatic, unabashedly radical, and incapable of thinking about the economy rationally. He genuinely seems to imagine that his job is to wage a battle to the death with the private sector. At the same time, he can’t hide his fear of the pragmatists inside the administration, and of the real threat to the government that the bolibourgoisie represents.

Take this ditty, dated October 10th, 2013, under the charming title “La batalla por la renta petrolera: el tipo de cambio como apariencia.”

What jumps out at you first is Zuñi-ordani’s bizarre, ongoing sense of victimization. The guy who has pretty much made all high level economic policy decisions for a decade, driving the bulk of the private sector out of business via nationalization/crazy policy-making, the guy whose word is law, seems to see himself in the role of scrappy underdog, an embattled David sticking it to the big, bad capitalist Goliath.

This, in itself, is a terrible sign. Zuñi-ordani seems to think the main economic policy challenge facing the country right now is to accumulate still more power in the Executive branch, power with which to wage the “Economic War” against the financial bourgeoisie that, against all odds, he seems to treat as an actual analytical category rather than the for-the-gallery propaganda line we all naturally took it for.

But the part that really caught my eye is this amazing graf where Zuñi-ordani tells us what he really thinks about calls for a modicum of exchange rate sanity:

Por el lado de los promotores  del desmontaje del control cambiario, se definió un polo formado por las propuestas del grupo de los ex-ministros (Felipe Pérez, Víctor Álvarez y Gustavo Márquez). Ya habrá tiempo de confrontar ideas con este sector, que se limita a hacer análisis económico desprovisto de referencias a la confrontación de clases. Moverse en el mundo irreal de los modelos de los economistas convencionales, es lo más parecido a soltar a un elefante en una tienda de cristales. Optar por el desmontaje del control de cambio e ilusionarse con el modelo de bandas cambiarias, es una ingenuidad política que puede favorecer a la correlación de fuerzas de los representantes del capital. [emphasis added – the sentence can be translated as “To believe the unreal world of conventional economists’ models is akin to letting an elephant loose in a crystal shop.”]

In that one sentence in the middle, Zuñi-ordani gives the game away: his off-hand dismissal of all model-based economic thinking underlines so much of the reason that we estamos como estamos. Here’s the guy who runs Venezuela’s economic policy out and out telling us that he will not, as a matter of principle, think through the rational incentives his policies create, or their outcomes.

It’s little wonder, then, that no one with an even rudimentary grasp of the ways out-of-control money creation fuels inflation and inflation fuels the parallel exchange rate will be let anywhere near the levers of economic policy making. That kind of thinking, remember, is strictly verboten. Because it might, y’know, generate all kinds unforeseen adverse consequences, sort of  like an elephant in a crystal shop. And Zuñi-ordani is all about avoiding unforeseen adverse consequences…

And how about this lovely riff, which came after the Nuevo Heraldo published rumours of a rapprochement between Venezuela and the IMF?

El golpe económico avisa.  Estemos alerta.  La matriz de opinión que tratarán de impulsar los sectores conservadores y sus infiltrados, es que “es inevitable, con esta inflación y este desabastecimiento, con esta política económica, caer en las manos del FMI”. No sólo dirán que es inevitable, sino que es recomendable. Dirán que “hay políticas económicas equivocadas”, metiendo en un solo saco las políticas económicas de Chávez con las que se vienen aplicando desde Febrero de este año.  Se aprovecharán del desorden, y de la anarquía que han producido los diferentes grupos de poder que conviven en el Gobierno.

En todo caso, como lo hemos denunciado en artículos anteriores, reafirmamos que ya está en marcha un proceso de desmontaje del proceso político chavista a través de la implantación de un modelo de crecimiento basado en las exportaciones y en la inversión extranjera. Esta “tercera vía” se está construyendo desde operadores bien ubicados en el Ministerio de Finanzas y en el Banco Central de Venezuela.  Plan de ataque que cuenta con el apoyo de la artillería pesada del Capital Financiero Internacional y, por supuesto, con el respaldo de algunos sectores de la banca nacional.

Las organizaciones populares y revolucionarias, constituyen el reservorio moral de esta revolución.  De ellas depende si este sueño se “va a bolina” con una capitulación o, por el contrario, continuamos siendo una de las experiencias rebeldes más importantes para la historia de nuestro país y para el mundo.  Esa tremenda responsabilidad que llevamos sobre nuestras espaldas nos exige denunciar y evitar esta capitulación. Mientras tanto, por si acaso, vamos pintando las pancartas que digan: ¡NO al FMI!  ¡No a la entrega al capital financiero internacional!  ¡Que renuncie el Ministro de Finanzas y demás negociantes! [Emphasis in the original, which reads “No to the IMF! No to submitting ourselves to international financial capital! The Minister of Finance and other negotiators must resign!”]

There is tons more where that came from, btw. Dozens of screeds. This post only scratches the surface. So feel free to jump into the cesspool and add any especially horrifying nuggets in the comments section.

Caveat Lector: I have no idea if Simón Andrés Zúñiga really is the Monk’s nom-de-blog on Aporrea. Certainly, nobody seems to have ever heard of Simón Andrés Zuñiga outside his Aporrea column. Google fails to turn up a photo. If he is a real person, he seems to have done nothing, ever, that left a Google trail, other than write for Aporrea.

On the other hand, Zúñiga’s writing style and substantive positions make the charge terrifyingly easy to believe. And if Simón Andrés Zúñiga’s columns really are a direct line into Giordani’s thinking, we are an order of magnitude more screwed than we even realized.

1 COMMENT

  1. Does anyone know of some text on the Net admittedly written by Giordani?
    Forensic linguistics can give us a fair chance to find out if the Monk is also the author of these writings.

  2. Anyone know if it is technically possible to hack the system that Aporrea uses to find any possible clue to the identity of Zúñiga? It just might be important one day. If nothing else, it would be a clue to dissecting the whole fiasco for the history books, one day.

  3. I think what he says here is scary. But Giordani has said evern scarier stuff without using pseudonames. For example, he argued in an interview that the depreciation that happened earlier this year didn’t really affect poor people because:

    “¿cuántos dólares hay que pagar para ir a un CDI, a una escuela o a recibir una casa de la Gran Misión Vivienda? No se necesita tener dólares, ni siquiera haber visto uno en la vida, pero allí funciona el elemento ideología. Todos vivimos de la insaciabilidad del dólar, de una especie de ninfomanía dolarizada. Es una enfermedad del sistema rentístico.”

    This guy is a moron. Period!

  4. Jim Jone’s People’s Temple in Guyana, David Koresh’s Branch Davidian in Waco, Marshall Applewhite’s Heavens Gate in Sand Diego, are compelling examples that fanatic adherence to an ideology, as crazy as it may be, can lead to mass killings and mass suicide. It has happened, it will happen and it is happening in the dark corridors of Zuñiordanis thinking. That guy is crazy and wants to take a whole bunch of people to a mass suicide and even a larger group to mass. murder

  5. And hearing directly from the Monks, alleged, mouth that, “la anarquía que han producido los diferentes grupos de poder que conviven en el Gobierno” and,
    “como lo hemos denunciado en artículos anteriores, reafirmamos que ya está en marcha un proceso de desmontaje del proceso político chavista a través de la implantación de un modelo de crecimiento basado en las exportaciones y en la inversión extranjera. Esta “tercera vía” se está construyendo desde operadores bien ubicados en el Ministerio de Finanzas y en el Banco Central de Venezuela.

    just shows you how real the war is between those that may have realized that we are on the precipice and those like him that want to keep on with their policies until the death of the country.

    We’re totally screwed, it’s all about ego at this stage of the process- so as not to say game.

  6. Now that I have become middle-aged, I have had interesting debates with lefty family members a generation older than me (think of 60’s types socialists). On occasion I see their commitment to ideas that are obsolete (ideas like Giordani’s for example).

    I think it is too painful for these older folks to accept that their intellectual position, which they have been committed all their life and to some degree have lived by them, to be wrong. So it comes down to this: either Giordani admits that he has wasted his life with this commie mumbo jumbo or he rams it true one way or the other.

    So it boils down to Ego.

  7. That deserves its own category of crazy. Seriously, that ship sailed a long time ago to fight these guys off the government. Now is time to let them bring Venezuela to the bottom of the ocean. And I mean that seriously, even if with a big hole in my heart, but this needs to happen. The only way China became today’s China is because Mao killed 55 million chinese people before. Chavismo needs to have its holocaust, before we can start getting better

    • I fear that you are correct. I was seeing and saying this several years ago, thinking that it could still be avoided. At this point, I precious few opportunities for Venezuela to escape a bloody social cataclysm.

    • The situation is different. We know that at least nearly half the population rejects chavismo. The problem is that chavismo controls the state. Chavismo uses its state control to maintain political legitimacy by skewing elections. At the same time by allowing opposition campaigning and victories in some local contests, it legitmizes the overall results. Its media hegemony narcotizes the public.

      The oncoming crisis is economic failure. This has yet to become critical – where many people come to lack necessities. That is the true catastrophe that chavismo could bring on.

      The question is what happens then. One possibility is that the chavernment blames the crash on sabotage/hoarding/speculation by “the capitalists/fascists/traitors”, suspends the laws, and incites mob violence by the poor and its armed supporters – the Bolivarian militia and the “colectivos”. Against whom though? is there an identifiable social class, living in particular areas, that could be targeted?

      Because the opposition, as I noted, includes at least half the country. And the “rich” of present-day Venezuela includes a huge number of Chavernment cronies – the boliburgueses and many of the leaders’ families. They would flinch at unleashing a Red Terror that could destroy them and their “friends”.

      Another possibility is that the “revolution” starts from the bottom up – some firebrand appears among the militias and colectivos who is not controlled by the chavernment, and unleashes the Terror himself. The army, corrupt as it is, should still move to maintain order and protect the cronies of the regime (and their neighbors). But it’s possible that the army is subverted, and the junior officers and rank and file won’t act, or even join the terror,

      Yet another possibility is a “controlled” Red Terror, with the chavernment directing mobs to the homes or businesses of specific people, and others arrested and executed after show trials. Such a program could not be physically resisted, I think. There might be protests – which could be met with vigilante suppression, disguised and concealed by the media blanket.

      What I don’t see, from now, is the chavernment ever getting the control exercised by Cuba, or Mao-China. It is already discredited with too much of the public.

  8. I find that with the exeption of a small elite made up of of economists that write opinion articles in the Caracas’ newspapers, people that read and write in Miguel’s blog and, people that read and write in this blog, in general, the Venezuelan public does not truly understand how destructively bad Giordani has been for Venezuela. Years ago, I had the opportunity to discuss Giordani with some of his engineer colleagues at UCV. They commented that besides his totally obsolete economic thinking they suspected of his incompetence as an engineer! Osama Bin Laden was a fanatic iluminado who was conviced that terrorism was the right way to impose his ideology. We all remember the consequences of this for many inocent persons. Giordani’s mix of fanaticism and ideology combined with the actual power Chavez gave him converted him into the equivalent of a terrorist for many Venezuelans. Felipe Perez Marti is calling for jail for Giordani in an article that was printed in Aporrea!. Billions of dollars have been lost, stolen or squandered. Busininesses have been closed and thousands of hard to replace jobs have been lost. Giordani is responsible for this. If this does not amount to destructive terrorism I don’t know what is. Who is responsible for this? Sooner than later many Venezuelans will have to agree with F.Perez Marti’s recomendation for Giordani’s place of retirement.

    • Hear, hear!

      I really don’t get it…Capriles might not be the right person to talk openly about certain things, but why didn’t we have some other well-known figures discuss, educate the population about things like CADIVI? This is not new. This is not from last year or the year before that. We have had this control (again) since 2003. We have had other distortions of the economy like the poor paying for the rich and foreign countries to fill in their car tanks for so long!

      You don’t need more than primary school maths to understand these things. But you do need someone to explain them to you.

  9. This, in itself, is a terrible sign. Zuñi-ordani seems to think the main economic policy challenge facing the country right now is to accumulate still more power in the Executive branch, power with which to wage the “Economic War” against the financial bourgeoisie that, against all odds, he seems to treat as an actual analytical category rather than the for-the-gallery propaganda line we all naturally took it for.

    Terrible for Venezuela, yes, but very consistent with someone who back in the 1990s wrote prose that praised the North Korean economy.

    • Editora APUCV…Asociación de Profesores de la UCV, oh, my-God! Not the ADPC (Asociación de Drogadictos del Parque Los Caobos) or the ALSRB (Asociación de Locos Sin Remedio de Bǎrbula)!

  10. Geez, what’s wrong with “La Tercera Via.” Let’s export our way out of this mess, with declining oil production, declining oil prices, less than 1MM bbls./day actually paid for by the Evil Empire, minus an impossible-to-really-determine number of bbls./da. imports of refined products (gasoline/diesel/motor oil/etc.) (due to the ongoing Amuay Refinery disaster) worth many times their crude oil export equivalents, and a virtually non-existent amount of non-oil exports. And, yes, let’s attract massive foreign investment, notwithstanding the BM recent report that Venezuela stands at 179 as one of the worst countries to do business, ahead of only a handful of African nations. But, in any event, all is not lost, as, in the immortal words of Economics Czar Ramirez, “Since most black-market dollars come from Cadivi scams, we’re going to eliminate these scams, and, thereby, “dry up” the supply of dollars to the black market.”–i.e., reduce the supply of dollars so that the price goes down.

  11. “…como lo hemos denunciado en artículos anteriores, reafirmamos que ya está en marcha un proceso de desmontaje del proceso político chavista a través de la implantación de un modelo de crecimiento basado en las exportaciones y en la inversión extranjera.”

    CRECIMIENTO BASADO EN EXPORTACIONES E INVERSION EXTRANJERA

    Isn’t that what every country in the world aims to achieve? I doubt that even in the chavista parallel universe model of pajaritos preñados would that be a bad thing.

  12. If that is actually his pseudonym, the guy is pathetic. It’s a open secret that Giordani wrote Maduro’s speech before the National Assembly. Here is “Zúñiga” on that speech:
    “Del brillante discurso del Presidente Maduro en la Asamblea Nacional, ”
    Many people believe that the economic war speech is just a lame excuse from the government to justify the disaster before the base, but if this is actualy Giordani, then the government actually believes and we are utterly doomed.

  13. Note that he never really bothers to analyse any of the “capitalist” notions he is so adamant in rejecting. In his way of thinking, you point out the source of an idea; if the source is impure, you reject the idea. This sort of ad hominem thinking makes it impossible to learn from an outside source, ever.

    • This reinforces what we already knew: chavismo is a belief system similar to “creationism”. In both cases you have a benevolent paternalistic view of the world (as you’d like it to be in any case) in opposition to the red-in-tooth-and claw view put forth by free-market economics and Darwinism. Crucially, opposing views are profoundly disturbing to chavistas and creationists because they represent a reality inconsistent with what they *want the world to be like but cannot ever be*. The reality that nature is cruel, or that markets are unforgiving to uncompetitive agents shatters their fantasy of even the possibility of a social utopia.

      Giordani et al haven’t fast-forwarded to a modern world in which a reasonably generous welfare system can coexist with reasonably free markets. In addition, they are petulant and impatient, and attempt to force-feed an impossible goal on an ignorant population. In pursuit of this dream they turn the life of those around them into a nightmare.

  14. I don’t understand it. How is it that the most stupid and incompetent people rule this country? Sure, Venezuela is not a land of brilliant geniuses, far from it, but we only need people that are “not stupid” to improve on what we have now. I am not saying smart, I am just saying ‘not stupid’. That’s not difficult to have! You don’t have to be an economist to understand that our current situation is not sustainable. No need to delve into the exotic land of economic models, just look to the past. We have been here before. We are making all the same mistakes all over again. We know how this ends. Power, it is all about power. Let the economy go to hell, accept uncontrolled inflation, general shortages, rampant unemployment… but save the revolution, i.e., their privileges.

  15. What’s the difference between a Giordani on the left and anyone else, whether in the left center or right, who believes in that 97% of a nations export revenues should be managed by the State? I would say “Quite marginal!” Wouldn’t you too?

  16. Giordani is not a true economist , if anything he sees himself as a Political Economist , people who see themselves as political economists , are mostly concerned with economics as an subordinate instrument for the conquest and retention of political power . Economics for them are not a means to understanding and managing the processes whereby the lasting welfare of a population can be assured , but the means whereby the maximum of power can be asserted by whoever is ideologically legitimized to hold power , they see economic processes through the lens of political doctrine , and the goals such doctrine inspire them to pursue.

    • Giordani is as much a political economist as Rafael Ramírez is a Nepalese go-go dancer. Giordani really hasn’t got the slightest clue. And if this guy is really Giordani – which I don’t know – he doesn’t even know anything about communism…he probably read a couple of pages of commie stuff but he didn’t get the basics right even according to their credo and their pseudo-history (no idea about what the NEP really was, about what Lenin wrote in his What is to be Done, etc)

      • Giordani would probably argue that orthodox historical communism ( such as practiced in the former Soviet Union ) is not the only kind of communism and that his views represents an improved new type of communism . He makes much of his admiration for Gramsci who is viewed by many marxists as the advocate of a more sophisticated enlightened kind of communism than was practiced by Lenin and Stalin. Not that I give these views much credence but some contemporary marxists lap it up. The thing is that if your read marx there is a lot of room for interpreting his thoughts in different ways , he himself was not always constant or coherent in his views.

    • “Political economy” is actually the term which was used in Britain and the colonies when politics and economics were taught in the same department at University, namely, the Department of Political Economy. Later, in many places, political science was recognized as a separate subject area, and split off to create a new entity.

      Here in Toronto, the largest, oldest, university has a Department of Political Economy, which was founded in the 1870’s. Retention of the name is a bow to tradition, and maybe is a gesture of mistrust about the “scientific” nature of Economics or Political Science, the typical American organization of the topic.

      I am pretty sure they aren’t into maximizing anyone’s political power. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_economy

      • In Venezuela I ve noticed that when someone with dogmatic marxist leanings wants to present himself as wise in the field of economics he will often adopt the moniker of Political Economist,, I figured this happens because to them the economy is always and primarily just a factor in the practice and understanding of marxist politics which is the main phocus of their concerns. Im sure that elsewhere (e.g. Canadian Academia) this is not necessarily the case,
        Usually they dont have the technical understanding of economics that professional economists have and yet they want people to treat them as if they deserved great credit for their economic knowledge . Giordani is not the only regime economic ‘expert’ I know who likes to present himself as Poltical Economists without having any technical command of the field.of economics.

        • I took two semesters of Wirtschaftspolitik, “economic policy/politics” for non-economist during my studies in Germany. They were just general courses for any student (from law to computer science to art) wanting to have a general grasp on such basic things as supply and demand, what governments would do to try to curb inflation, money movement, investment and so on. It seems not only that Giordani does not agree with the concepts I saw there, but that he never ever had the opportunity or the interest to learn from primary sources about those concepts, not even at the very superficial level
          history and law and computer science and art students did on a course “on the side”.
          I am sure he went right from what he learnt at a Venezuelan or Dominican liceo to reading commie brochures during his “engineering” studies in Italy or wherever he had them.

          What I found depressing in Venezuela is that not only “theoreticians” from the regime’s side ignore their own bloody past and what their idols said or not said (as I said, any communist SHOULD, MUST have read Lenin’s book What is to be Done, specially if
          he bloody pretends to quote from that book several times), but our side does not seem to have a single leader with the most basic knowledge of history from the Eastern side, from communist countries, etc. It seems as if no one on our side read more than what they accidentally found in Venezuelan newspapers about what happened in the Soviet Union or elsewhere…or perhaps half a program from HBC “the Rise and Fall of Communism”.

          There is so much we could use against Chavismo in the daily discourse and we do not use it because basically the absolute majority of our leaders read only the books they had to read for university plus, maybe, some self-help book.

          • The little old lady in black who goes to mass every morning would probably be lost if she tried reading any of the Churches Theologians and yet she sees herself as catholic and most everyone else will view her as a catholic. Religious and Political movements have a theory ( or several competing theories) most people dont bother much about and a watered dowm and rethorically spiced version of some leif motifs of that theory/ or body of theories for common every day vernacular usage by its followers .Sometimes errant or mongrel versions of the rethorical vernacular version are also born around the fringes of those movements ) . Chavistas draw on the to them prestige of Communism as an ideological brand or label but really dont really concern themselves with its doctrinal sources , instead they go whole hog for the rethorical treatment of a mongrel version of those ideas . i dont think that much will be gained by attempting to discuss doctrinal or theorical issues with Chavista ‘theorists’ because there arent any !!
            Kepler is right in observing that most people in the opposition leadership have dedicated little time to getting a good theoretical grounding on the ideas ultimately inspire it movement .

    • I understand what you mean, but you are insulting political economists. Giordani is just a clueless dinosaur Marxist repeating what his bosses (maduro and co.) want to hear so they allow him to enjoy his comfortable position just a little bit longer.

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