Slow-Cooked Stability

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a cup of devaluation, 2 tablespoons of price adjustment, add repression to taste
a cup of devaluation, 2 tablespoons of price adjustment, add repression to taste

Now that we’re all taking stock of the protest movement, here’s one heretical thought: time is working against it. With every day that passes, it becomes less likely we’ll be able to turn the recent outburst of middle class arrechera into a broad-based, multi-class movement able to challenge the government’s hold on power.

Why? Because the red macro-economic adjustment is close to fully cooked. A dollar disbursment stop started marinading last year, and since then a series of lightly disguised devaluations and price adjustments have been thrown in the pot. Scarcity and the need for minting money are diminishing. If turmoil is the consequence of mismanagement, can chavismo escape its own trap?

This slow cooked macro-adjustment started long ago. Meanwhile, it’s all about keeping the simmering pot from boiling over. Part of the recipe involves pretending to have a dialogue. Another part is to keep protests at bay through repression. Of course, remember to condiment with loads of propaganda.

The opposition has failed to brand itself as a safe haven for economic macro-chaos. Instead of that, it went from being on a sabbatical after the last elections to a long list of intangibles.

Quico was right when he said:

With the very limited means we do have at our disposal, though, we can probably do a lot to hollow out the regime’s elite support, by establishing a clear, consistent and truthful discourse that draws out clearly the way the regime’s incompetence courts chaos and establishes us as the logical – indeed, as the only – alternative: a safe, competent pair of hands that understands the drivers of chaos and knows what to do to bring them to heel.

Now the MUD isn’t even a viable option to the electorate (neither is GPP, FYI). The grass-root movements around the discontent have failed to grow into something organized.

Current protest are likely to be unsuccessful as long as they focus on calls for intangible things like freedom or justice. Protests show that people are feeling miserable, but can they really put a finger on why they are miserable? Is it the crime? Is it inflation? Is it CADIVI? Is it the CNE? The movement has never had a clear answer.

Efforts have been made to try to capture that discontent and turn it into demands like the release of political prisoners. To our dismay, when protesters are asked about LL, you realize that isn’t why they’re on the streets. Most people would like to see Simonovis and LL free, but it isn’t something that affects their daily lives. And if even the people out protesting aren’t doing so for abstract reasons, what hope of rallying others around those types of banners?

When protest begins to ask for tangible things, things that the government is unable to provide but we all need, then that’s when the joropo starts.

If a few hundreds march to an automercado bicentenario decided to buy milk and vegetable oil (both produced by government-owned companies) with cash on hand and decided not to leave until they bought all they needed or could afford. Only then you will see authorities trembling.

Can you imagine that headline? Government disperses camp of people waiting to get milk and vegetable oil. Meanwhile the civil unrest and the repression that goes with it is nothing but a PR blunder for the government, but it isn’t eroding any support.

Unfortunately, the window to expose the government on its failure to deliver the most basic of its promises is rapidly closing.

Until protests boil over beyond its middle class roots, the simmering continues. The macro-adjustment has all the ingredients in and the government is merely waiting for the results to show.

When shelves are stocked again and there are no longer lines at the stores, will civil unrest continue?

I hope it does. I hope behind that misery felt on the streets has lack of institutions and republican needs right at its center. But I don’t think so.

Sadly everything tells me: “It is the economy, stupid“.

1 COMMENT

  1. “When shelves are stocked again and there are no longer lines at the stores….”

    “When”? With the Law of Fair Prices around? With the scarcity of not only food, but medical products?

    Uh, what makes you think that tthere will be a “when”? The gosse of the golden eggs is dead and buried.

    • The government is slowly but surely raising the prices of price controlled goods. By a lot. If you still don’t grasp why that’s likely to significantly ease shortages, I can’t explain it to you.

      • You are right shortages will diminish drastically. Now, what if it goes the other way? I was looking at stuff like this:

        http://historico.notitarde.com/1998/05/18/valencia/valencia5.html

        and more of those times. I was plotting prices I could find from back then to the minimum salary of then and now. It seems a Venezuelan worker can buy now less kilograms of chicken, tomato and onion than he could in 1998. He could buy more in 2010. Of course, the government could reduce the extremes the poor saw in 1998 by allocation of some of the petrodollars it has now…but how much leeway does it really have?

      • As long as there are price regulations, there’ll be black market.
        Remember that the extraction smuggling in everything isn’t a new preactice, it’s just that it extended from gasoline (the only regulated stuff that actually earned profits being sold elsewhere) to every single product (Toilet paper, flour, milk, and the others)
        Hoarding, nervous boughts and street vendors can’t finish the product stock to one day each three months, because the first two are just stupid lies, and the third is just the tip of a brutal extraction mafia that extends to the most privileged kingpins in the middle of the regime itself.
        The prices rose up, right? You think that’ll end extraction smuggling? Think again, the prices have to rise WAY more than that 300% to reach evels that’ll erase the lure of the fast-as-lightning-cash that smuggling achieves.
        Rise the prices, keep the monopoly, keep the scarcity, and the black market’ll stand, with prices that’ll go through the roof.

      • OK, so the goods will be in the shops, and nobody will be able to afford them. From an economist’s point of view, there’s no shortage anymore. Everyone’s happy, right? Fino, chamo…

      • I don’t see how that works.

        Or more exactly, I see how it works if and only if I make one usually true assumption : namely that price signals have a reliable receiver on the supply side, that rising real price levels will induce the creation of productive capacities to fulfill the demand they signal. This assumption is correct, under most conditions.

        But there is a problem with that : that assumption happens to be false in Venezuela. Prices can signal the need to create productive capacities as much as you want, no productive capacities will be created. No productive capacities will be allowed to be created by the government.

        They cannot tolerate any significant economic actor to emerge outside of their control. And any economic actor within their control is or will be shortly about as productive as a lump of rock. The only actors who will be allowed to fill in the gap for unsatisfied demand will be very inefficient very small scale producers existing in the cracks, like the lady downstairs who bakes cakes for income on the side.

        So it goes back to the real question : does Venezuela have enough foreign income to cover its domestic consumption, which must be nearly 100% fulfilled by imports for a lack of domestic productive capacities ?

        As far as I can tell, the answer is no, by far.

        The about $80B gross receipts Venezuela can expect per year from oil at the current rates work out at $2,775/inhabitant and that’s already not enough to cover the level of consumption of imported goods and services Venezuelans expect. And that’s not even taking into account imported production costs, fulfillment of already mortgaged production, service of exterior debts and obligations, aid to crony countries, leakage to smuggling, corruption and direct embezzlement high and low within the Boligarchy and the enchufados, the dead weight of the state apparatus, etc, etc, etc.

        My finger-in-the-wind guess about how much the government really has available each year to cover imports is probably less than $1,000/inhabitant, may be much less. Less than $3/day per inhabitant. $3/day per inhabitant for basic goods doesn’t buy you much, certainly not political stability.

        Chavez has turned Venezuela into a very poor country. He successfully managed to paper over reality for the longest while by a mad import splurge pulling on all avenues of credits and all manners of foreign suckers. But that’s done. Foreign suppliers are no longer extending credit. They want cash upfront. Reality is back and reasserting itself. And it’s only the beginning.

        Remember that number : $3 per day per inhabitant. That’s what the Chavistas have to keep the country somewhat fed, somewhat clothed and, above all, under control.

        • Interesting analysis and figures, I’d like to see some comment on that (I’m not an economist, so when someone tells me things becoming unaffordable means no more shortage, I think he can’t see the wood for the trees…).

          I guess there’s some gold to sell off, and some oil concessions as well. There’s probably a bit more than $80B available.

          Your point about higher prices not being an impulse for production in Venezuela is well made. Even if the government was open to private enterprise, and even if private enterprise trusted the government to keep its word, it would take too long, and given the problems getting foreign currency to import production equipment, not to mention getting the equipment imported into Venezuela (according to Miguel Octavio it’s taking 2 months to unload ships in Puerto Cabello now), it’s not going to happen any time soon.

          A race against time that’s already been lost?

    • By now everyone involved has denied it ever happened but people prefer conspiracy theories, they are much more interesting.

      • OpUno,

        She went from a request by the opposition not to apply sanctions to her own desire to not to do so in hopes of successful conversations ???Which have even been suspended… So how long will she wait?

        Now she says it is not the opposition members that are participating in the talks but just ” some people”.That could mean anything.Even if it were just some people why doesn’t she name them?

        She obviously just wants to avoid sanctions and the complications it might bring to the US.I would also say she is highly incompetent.

        She can always find some excuse if she does not want to apply sanctions….

        When confronting a dictatorship you need decisive action, not timid confusion.

        • Let’s assume for a moment that is the Excecutive that doesn’t want to apply sanctions and not the MUD (Aveledo’s strawman makes it difficult, but let’s make the effort).

          In that case, she looks like an incompetent that lied to the Senate, so she should hope that the door doesn’t hit her on the ass on the way out. Also, it means that the Senate should put the Sanction Law in front off Mr. Noble Peace Prize to see if he dares to do something about it.

  2. But can an economic model implanted by Chavistas ever deliver stocked shelves? It hasn’t worked anywhere. Either they embrace crony capitalism like the Chinese and Russians or a police state like the Cubans and North Koreans.

    And then there are other macro-economic storms to which Venezuela is exposed as a sudden oil price drop, and for that matter some unexpected PR disaster that could sway public opinion.

    At best they will achieve an unstable stability.

    • The thing is that the economic model has undergone serious corrections. Will it work? I think the jury is still out. But if it does, will popularity climb to pre-crisis times? Will the discontent continue?

      • I think the situation is that, while the corrections employed will move the economy to a new “stability” (probably a poorer one, but well, “better” than now), as they are not going to the root of the issues, it is just another rollback of the clock.

        That is to say, they will keep all the same reasons why the situation was deteriorating so much, but after a shock of moving to a new position of equilibrium, so while for a while things will be “better”, they will keep accumulating the same tensions.

        Kicking the can down the street, so to say.

  3. I wont quibble with the authors reading of the political effect of the ‘perfect storm’ that venezuela is currently experiencing and whether the dialogo ( or the street protests before than ) did or did not defenestrate the oppositions chances of ever obtaining a mayority of popular support, enough to unseat the ruling regime .

    People appear to have a greater sensitivity than I have about judging the likely effect of the oppositions fluctuating behaviour , i myself dont see how things might evolve politically but I do know that if there is an ongoing chronic lowering in peoples standard of living sooner or later thats bound to hurt the govts overall popularity with whatever consequences follow from such event .

    Another thing however I cant quite grasp is how exactly is it that we are on our way to an stabilization of the very harrowing economic situation we face today . The article which the author quotes to explain the economic side of the prediction doesnt say that such stabilization is any likely to happen , in fact it appears to say the opposite.

    I admit to being ignorant and perhaps obtuse in the reading of how these economic predictions are made or put together but there are a few facts that I wish I would know in order to attempt to figure it out.

    1.- How much forex income is the regime actually getting from its oil exports this year and can be expected to get in the following years .( this means that the oil prices remain stable and that the production of crude oil and refined products do not fall also that the cost of placing such crude and products in the markets does not increase too much)
    2.- How much forex denominated debt does the govt have to pay to foreign parties this years and the following years .
    3.- After paying for such debt how much forex does the govt have available to fund necessary imports and the continuation of necessary services payable in forex .this year and the next few years.
    4.. What are the chances that part of those imports can be substituted with locally produced goods and services purchaseable in bs , this year or next year .How much forex would that increased or restored local production save .Lets assumme that prices are allowed to float to their natural market levels
    5.- How much more bs can the govt collect from additional taxes or by substantially reducing and elliminating subsidies ( assuming it adopts these measures) or from controlling clandestine exports of local goods to colombia )

    If we had the answer to these questions ( which answer itself is subject to many impondrables and uncertainties) then we might think of a possible way in which the economy might get stabilized , lacking a credible answer to these questions I at least dont understand how such stabilization may be achieved unless you solve the macroeconomic crisis by starving the country of its import needs to inanition levels .

    The assumption that by freeing the exchange rate level ( presumably thru the sicad 2 mechanism) and forcibly rationing imports to an almost intolerable level ( except for basic food and medical staples) stabilization is automaticaly achieved is something i dont quite see.

    The information we have on the results of sicad 2 is that at best its been able to notionally sattisfy one third of the dollar demand seeking to buy forex thru the system , the rest have been left with empty hands , the complaint is that the dollars offered thru the system ( most of which must come from govt entities) has not been sufficient . The govt appears to lack the forex needed to sattisfy this demand and is issuing new debt offshore to try and get more forex which to sell thru this system .

    All the indications is that the regime is starved of dollars and thats whats driving it to withold payment on so many debts and import needs other than those it needs to make to avoid becoming Officially broke .

    Maybe someone does have the above information and can clarify for us ignorant people how that stabilization is going to come about .

    • Bill, sorry for the late reply but it merits a thoughtful answer. You elicit here the shortcomings of anything that can be written about Venezuela’s economy, doesn’t matter if you write for CC or for BofA. Government accounts lack of transparency. The truth is that only a handful of people know the answer to your questions. All we can do is infer from what we see.

      My main point is that corrections have been set forth. You may argue that the current corrections may fall short and you may be correct. But corrections nonetheless. Steps in the right direction sort of speak. Many more steps may be needed but unless we see those accounts we don’t know.

      What’s truth is that steps are being taken. And there a being taken with gradualism. Something believed to be not possible. One day the devaluate, the next they adjust the price of poultry and the following the price of milk. The cadence seems to be for sure part of a plan. The gas and other changes may be well underway.

      Sicad 2 is nothing but a hoax. It is another arbitrary exchange system in which the government gets a better deal.

      At the end, this we must understand. The government seeks stability. Not progress nor growth.

      • Thank you for your very honest and thoughtcul answer . I too think that some govt measures taken or announced are in the right direction but really cant predict how well or badly they will be implemented nor the precise effect they will have in helping improve the economy which also doesnt stand still but keeps moving in what appears are dark uncharted waters.!! .

  4. HIgh oil prices (say >$80/b)= Chavista government
    Low oil prices (say <$55/b)= The shit hits the fan and god help us all

  5. The greater the economic struggle, the more people vote their pocketbooks. Unconditional Bonus Income should be the flagship promise, perhaps the only one.

  6. Assume:
    2.5M barrels per day @$100
    $8M per day for imports (devilsexcrement 2012 figures)
    30M population
    5 average family size

    The Chavista model is simply “to live off the oil stipend.” Take the ENTIRE oil money income and divide it by population to get a distributable yearly family income of $15.2K. If you subtract imports the distributable yearly family income becomes 14.7K. According to the world bank, to be considered middle class the 5 family members have to earn at least $15/day adding up to a yearly family income of $18.7K/year (assuming 250 working days/year). So the mathematics say the Chavista model will make everybody poor UNLESS 6M Venezuelans are forced to leave the country. If that happens the distributable yearly family income becomes $18.4K, just barely middle class.

    I really do think that a simple calculation such as this one must have had impact on the the choice of the word “apatridas” to describe these unwanted Venezuelans. The problem is that 6M is a lot of people and the population is still growing.

    Is this model sustainable? I didn’t even bother to subtract foreign debt…

    • RN, things to consider in your estimates:

      Once the money is distributed in that fashion, there is no longer a need for the import subsidies, including exchange controls.

      Some of the oil money must go into the continued production of oil.

      My calculations lead to well over the world bank middle class number you provide.

      Considering that all that money mostly goes, either to a bank, which would have to lower lending rates, or to spending, which would translate to business expansion and increased income tax payments, together with the lower subsidy spending of the government, and the increased government income from taxation, this model would be sustainable, without all the emigration.

      • I agree that replication of the Norwegian scheme as far as putting all the oil revenue into individual pension accounts. However I don’t see how the oil revenues (assuming they are the only revenue) would be enough to maintain the present standard of living of Venezuelans.

        • RN, look at it this way. The oil revenues are now over 5 times what they were just a couple of decades ago. The import costs, in dollar terms, have not gone up 5 times. Let’s say double. That leaves 3 fifths of the current revenue for development, since all costs are covered with the first 2 fifths. Why would it not be enough?

          As to the Norwegian scheme, I don’t endorse that for Venezuela. Pension accounts are still controlled by government, members of which I do not trust with that control. I endorse depositing daily and letting people manage their own money. Banks should be the ones to be pushing retirement accounts on their users.

        • Your calculation assumes Venezuela only produces oil which is only 12% of the GDP the other 88% also counts. 100% of the people are not going to live just from the oil handout.

          • Of course you are right. I did that on purpose. I’m trying to wrap my hands around the assumption that “Venezuela is such a rich country, it could live superbly on the oil revenues alone.” I think that assumption underlies Chavista thinking, i.e. that a great historic injustice is being committed against the people unless every Venezuelan lives like a Saudi prince. Assuming the gvt. distributes the oil income as a salary and no other salary is paid in the economy, what would be the implications? The calculation shows the oil income is hardly enough, unless I am wrong re. the World Bank’s model of what constitutes a minimum middle class family income –since I just multiplied the minimum daily individual middle class income by 5 family members and by the number of working days, which maybe is too high.
            Torres, you are absolutely right in my mind that the people must control the oil revenue themselves and not the govt to prevent corruption. But some mechanism must be put in place to put prevent the oil revenue from flooding the economy giving rise to inflation that cripples the competitiveness of the country. That’s why pensions come in. The pensions have to be owned and contoled by private individuals!!

          • RN, The oil income as an Unconditional Bonus Income (UBI) is sufficient for the following reason. You cannot assume no other salaries, because by providing the UBI, people will either have to save it in a bank, or spend it on a good or service. The amount that is saved in a bank causes banks to lower their lending rates, which translates to business expansion, while the amount spent on goods and services causes providers of goods and services to increase their business, which translates to business expansion and tax collection. By business expansion I include salaries to employees, salaries that are in addition to the UBI. Those salaries would be going only to people who are willing to work for a higher standard of living than the UBI alone would provide, or to foreigners, increasing domestic production and, soon enough, churning out exports. Assuming a near 30% tax collection, the government would have more than enough to cover its costs, especially considering it wouldn’t have to provide any poverty alleviation, retirement, or other welfare programs of which the UBI takes care.

            Going back to the numbers. The amount of dollar revenue from oil is sufficient to keep an economic motor of a country of 30 million people, quite well, if run efficiently. The whole point of proposing the UBI is to force the efficiency needed for that oil revenue to go the longest way. Tie it to a single, flat capital tax and you’ve got yourself the most efficient economy ever.

    • Part of the problem is calculating what venezuelas really available oil income is because:
      1. crude production may not be what the govt says it is , it may be lower and falling .
      2. part of it isnt exported but sold at deep loss in the domestic market ( at least 700.000 bls per day)
      3. to the extent the oil is extra heavy and doesnt include refined products then the price is lower and the cost of producing it much higher , As a general trend Venezuelas reserves of light medium crude are falling ( as is their production) raising the percentage of its reserves and production which are made of heavy crude .
      4. An increasing part of the exported oil yields an income which is deposited in chinese bank accounts and used to pay or guarantee the payment of past debts so that the income actually reaching Venezuela is only a fraction of the price of the oil sold..
      5. Some 300.000 bls per day is sold to allied countries at heavily discounted prices 50% payable on very generous financial terms ( 15 years at 1% ) and 50% on receipt of the oil . A big chunk of the latter price isnt paid any way or paid through barter deals which might carry an overprice for the goods Venezuela gets in return.
      6. To try and meet electric power demand after the downfall in hydroelectric generation new plants are being built which used refined oil as fuels increasing domestic demand and lowering the volumes avaiblabel of rexport. these products if exported carry a much higher price than crude oil.
      7. Production of high priced refined products has been hit hard by a much deteriorated refinery infrastructure /operation even requiring venezuela to import high priced products which it formerly used to produce on its own and export…
      8. Corruption , mismanagement blunders and much lower productivity result in ,much higher costs per bl produced or refined than was formerly the case .
      7. Selling oil to far off far east destinations such as china and india involve much higher tanker freight costs than selling it to closer normally better paying markets closer to home , one round trip voyage to a US Gulf Coast refinery takes a couple of weeks , A vessel transporting oil to china can make 2.7 round trips a year.

      All these factors taken together result in a net availabe oil income much lower than might result from calculating such income by multiplying 2.5 million bls per day by a 100 USD per bl price. . also remember that venezuelas oil income is subject to payment of a 30% plus royalty payment plus a 60% income tax rate an income which precise use and destination by the govt is never disclosed .

      Also If Venezuela is ever to recover its once healthy oil industry and maintain or increase production the required investments will be huge !!

  7. I don’t buy it, half-assed adjustments do not make it, on the contrary, they spike inflation and keep it there. Unless you get rid of the 6.3, raise the 10 and increase the price of gas, inflation will stay by inertia above 60% (April’s number has yet to be published, it will put inflation above 60%)

    • “Unless you get rid of the 6.3, raise the 10 and increase the price of gas”
      And when you do this, inflation’ll skyrocket.
      There’s just no way to avoid losing all to that inflation…

  8. “a safe, competent pair of hands that understands the drivers of chaos and knows what to do to bring them to heel.”

    This statement by Toro is funny, given that he has virtually no understanding of the root problem of underdevelopment in Venezuela. Shit, the guy toys with the idea that it might be “cultural”, the hidden “savage” within the Venezuelan psyche!

    How a guy like that could turn around and claim he “knows what to do” is laughable. If you don’t understand the causes of the problem, you certainly can’t understand what needs to be done.

  9. Civil unrest could continue, but it would likely not because of the reasons of the present protests, and with more people this time around. It is not that the protests lack legitimacy as much as it is that they lack effectivity.

      • Rodrigo You need to clarify this, after all it is only after the protests that things started to move.

        It is easy to criticize, but not very thoughtful to criticize the very people who put their lives on the line.I think it would be far more useful to criticize those who do not protest and who spend their days, looking for coffee, going to the cine, getting manicures, and turning a blind eye.

        I do not think you have your priorities straight.

        • I think I have argued in length why the current protests are not effective here:

          http://caracaschronicles.com/2014/04/08/roadblocks-for-democracy/

          The fact that I dedicate so much time to think and write about the protest has to do with the fact that I see them. I can’t help to observe them with anything but critical eye (not a blind one).

          To make this clarification one more time and as explicit as I can make it. I think people ought to be protesting, and when I say people I include myself in that category. When choosing a method they are good ones and bad ones. In general, violent ones are bad. I will encourage the good and condemn the bad.

  10. That’s why the “dialogo” with Venezuela’s disguised neo-dictatorship was a tremendous mistake. Perhaps a fatal mistake, which could turn Venezuela into Cuba#2: Fifty years of misery or more, or a China of sorts, without the economic production and much more corrupt.

    These imbeciles from the MUD have done nothing but appease the crowds, mix everything up and, in effect, live up to their infamous named: MUDDED everything up, lo “embarraron todo”.

    With Leopoldo in Jail (who has often opposed any “talks” with the opposition), and poor MCM valiantly doing what she can, talking in Canada.. we are left with a bunch of feeble demagogues like Caprilito, no lidership, no fight.

    Blending with these disguised chameleons in Venezuela’s mudded dictatorship has been the worst political move they could have ever come up with. Beyond retarded, pardon my French. And, rest assured, most of these people from the MUD are also CORRUPT politicians, Starving for $$$$ and a piece of the pie. That’s why they “talk” with the dictators, para ENCHUFARSE tambien.

    Now the only way out in my opinion is through further degradation of the economy, so people get even more pissed off. And as this article relates, with these fake economic measures, the oil monies, and the MUD thrown in by the MUD, the momentum has been lost, the streets are calming down, hello Cuba # 2.

    Therefore, unfortunately, every time I read about another economic fiasco or faux pas by this horrific, corrupt to the core, disguised neo-dictatorship I must applaud.

    Inflation records? Bravo! Purchasing power (poder adquisitivo) getting even worse? YES!!!! Colas, escasez, nothing works, the economy in shambles?

    Sorry to say, and I know it’s easy for us exiled in Miami or elsewhere, but more misery will be necessary, thanks to the MUD from the MUD.

  11. I agree with your assessment and Quico’s quote.

    But that’s definitely not the direction MUD is taking. MUD decided to become a friction force on reforms instead of their most reliable champions.

    – If raising gas prices is proposed: there’s someone from MUD to denounce it as contrary to people’s interests, while deviating attention to a different problem: the government’s petrodiplomacy (which has served them -not the people- quite well).
    – If rationing gas is proposed: there’s someone from MUD to denounce it as contrary to people’s interest, while pledging to scrap the whole scheme.
    – If raising controlled prices is proposed: there’s someone from MUD to denounce it as a paquetazo.
    – If devaluation of the VEF is proposed: there’s someone from MUD ready to state they would have never devalued the VEF, that it wasn’t necessary, and that it goes against people’s interests.

    And so on and so forth. If one were to judge willingness to reform the economy, using solely press releases, it might seem that Chavismo is the side of cautious reformers and MUD is the side trying to hold progress back.

    If reforms happen MUD won’t be credited for them, since they opposed them all along. If they don’t happen and it brings about a MUD government after a collapse of Maduro, MUD will face a severe backlash from their own when attempting to clean up the economy precisely because they’ve been campaigning against reforms. Why oh why did MUD choose such a dead end stance?

  12. The “macro-economic” adjustments talked of here are too tepid to have any meaningful effect, and, in any event, are more than outweighed by the effects of the “Fair Prices Law”, and a real minimum wage less than $100/mo. The economic problems/ popular discontent will grow, not abate.

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