As mass-scale hunger begins to stalk the Venezuelan public sphere, the moral dimension of lending to a crazy regime comes into sharper and sharper focus.
For years, Venezuela has had a massive budget deficit, sustained only by exorbitant oil prices. For years, analysts have been warning that the Venezuelan government would rather chew nails that allow the private sector to grow. And yes, a lot of that borrowed money was used to help establish a narco-military kleptocracy.
It is impossible to untangle the ethical implications of all of this. Lending Venezuela money is what business ethics professors talk about when they question “winning at someone else’s expense.” Losing money from investing in Venezuela is akin to losing it from, say, funding a company that engages in morally reprehensible acts. (Insert the name of your favorite evil corporate villain here).
Investors in companies with “tainted profits” from, say, engaging in child labor or violating human rights should not get the world’s sympathy, nor should they be bailed out. Similarly, investors in Venezuelan debt have only their hubris to blame.