Government does something not-crazy, scrambles to hide it

Singling out gochos for adjustment.
Singling out gochos for adjustment.
Singling out gochos for adjustment.

Did you hear? Venezuela raised gasoline prices yesterday. Not nationwide, of course: just locally, in areas near the Colombian border where gasoline smuggling had become completely rampant. Pumps nearest the border are now charging Bs.83 for a liter of gas, while pumps slightly further away are charging Bs.50.

If you know anything about Venezuela you know there’s no straightforward answer to the question of how much that is in dollars. If you go by the SIMADI rate, it comes to about $1.58/gallon right near the border and 95 US cents a gallon further away – or either way less than that (using the black market rate) or way more than that (using the SICAD or official rates.)

One thing’s for sure: it’s substantially above the previous price (which, for all intents and purposes, was zero.)

The decision, although very partial constitutes, nonetheless, an extremely rare instance of movement-in-the-direction-sanity in economic governance. Which, I suppose, explains why it was never announced. It was just sprung on users like that, from one day to the next, with no discussion, no acknowledgement, not even a press release.

It’s grimly funny, really. When – exceptionally – the government does something that is not outright crazy, they’re ashamed of it! They work to hide it. And so they manage to take something that ought to have been a positive signal and turn it into just the Nth reminder of how screwed we are.

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