Behind the Scenes in a Hummer

Ten days or so ago, devoted reader/Excel nerd El Cachaco had some extra time on his hands and decided to spend it figuring out exactly how much official price gasoline you can buy in Venezuela with a single $100 bill.

The answer is: an insane amount. When he first did the calculation, a $100 would buy you Bs.22,000, and since a liter of gas costs just Bs.0.097 bs, that worked out to 228,865 liters…enough to drive a Hummer around the circumference of the earth 24 times!

I thought that was a fun detail, and wanted to include it in the OpEd Dorothy and I were writing for the New York Times.

Problem is, by the time we got the edit back from our editor in New York, the Bs. had fallen to Bs.255:$1, and that same $100 was sending our Hummer around the world 27 times. We sent in a correction, and by the time the copy edit came back, it was already out of date: the bolivar was down again, enough to buy our hummer one more go around the world!

That’s the version they wound up printing. By the time we tried to correct it again, to reflect the further slide to Bs.281:$1, that $100 was buying 289,690 liters of gas, enough to go around the world in a Hummer 30 times, the paper had closed.

The bolivar is falling so fast, our OpEd went out of date by two whole go-arounds-the-world literally in the time it took to print the newspaper.

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