$12,000,000,000 in the Hole (and Digging)

Stop_Digging_^_-_geograph.org.uk_-_195319Bank of America today estimates that, if oil prices stabilize at the level they’ve already fallen to, Venezuela will have to find an extra $12 billion in foreign financing to balance its external accounts in the next year.

That’s on top of the already massive import cuts that have already sent the economy into recession this year and led to an absolutely unprecedented supply crisis.

The options are all bad: absurdly costly new financing? clamping down even more on import volumes and adjusting-via-empty-shelves-s’more? Selling off Citgo?

Ghastly stuff, all of it.

Now, like Rodrigo says, the interesting thing about Maduro’s approval rating, at 30%, is how high it remains. Without Chávez’s charisma, mired in a economic chaos and recession, visibly rudderless and incapable of the simplest common-sense reforms, Maduro still retains the support of 3 out of every 10 Venezuelans. That really is kind of remarkable.

But will that chavista hard-core stay cohesive after another round of adjustment? Where exactly is el llegadero for the patriaomuerte crowd? The crazies have had to swallow hard over the last 18 months to accept Maduro’s leadership. Some of their most visible leaders have already been thrown under the bus, others have been murdered. Everyone’s standard of living has taken a hit – well, everyone who’s not in uniform, anyway. Chavismo’s base is under strain, no question, but you can’t really say it’s buckled.

The people we used to call “transactional chavistas” – people without strong ideological allegiances, who were in it for the perks – have now turned their backs on Maduro pretty decisively. But the core hangs on. Just.

What happens to that cohesion when you force another $12 bn adjustment?

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