Ramón Lobo Reaches Peak Idiocy

For the first time in ages, the Finance Minister addressed his battered and bruised nation. To what end? To stamp out the scourge of our time… the merchant willing to swipe your card and advance you some cash for a commission.

By now, you know the score: Venezuela has the world’s worst performing economy. We have the world’s highest inflation as well as chronic food and medicine shortages. Hunger is so rampant that 75% of the population lost weight in  2016. We have economic problems that would challenge the world’s best economic policy makers. And who’s Maduro tapped to take on this titanic challenge?

These guys.

At their press conference on Monday, finance minister Ramón Lobo, Interior Ministry Nestor Reverol, the National Bank Superintendent, and several other top government honchos made complete asses of themselves, wasting their time and ours with a nonsensical plan to fix a phantasmagoric problem of their own creation.

The people faced with the daunting job of solving the worst economic crisis of our history think the biggest economic problem facing the nation is… that sometimes you can persuade cashiers at stores to give you cash back when you swipe your card.

That’s right, our economic stooges gave a pompous and irony-free press conference to announce the “actions for the defense of currency in circulation.” Economic war, apparently, now takes the form of merchants charging commissions for cash advances and the smuggling of bank notes to Colombia.

It has nothing to do with a decade of fiscal recklessness and macroeconomic illiteracy. Nope. What has brought the country to the brink of economic collapse and starvation is the guys who let you swipe your card for cash.

And this horrible scourge can only be solved, of course, by more controls and interventions in all stores with active points of sales.

The catastrophic mismatch between the monumental economic challenge Venezuela faces and the microscopic scale of its economic policy-makers’ vision.

Set aside their bizarre sense of priorities. Even by chavismo’s standards, we’ve reached some kind of Peak Idiocy here.

These guys reasoned, somehow, that the best way to solve the current cash shortage (caused by the inexplicable years-long delay in introducing higher denomination notes and made worse by the rampant inflation caused by doing what all minimally competent economists in the world say you shouldn’t do) is to send around inspectors to physically visit stores around the country at random and cross-check their sales receipts with their points of sales transactions records to see if they match.

The mind boggles.

It’s not the crazy policies that everyone has been telling to reverse for years; that everyone from Steve Hanke to Mark Weisbrot has told them again and again will destroy the country. Nope. The real culprit is the greedy “portu” from the panadería que tiene punto who wants to squeeze the little people.

I think what makes it all so infuriating is the catastrophic mismatch between the monumental economic challenge Venezuela faces and the microscopic scale of its economic policy-makers’ vision. These guys aren’t actually able to cogitate at a level of abstraction that is high enough to even grasp the damage they’re doing, or the mechanisms through which they’re doing it. Anything more complicated than a punto de venta is beyond them.

It would be quite funny if children weren’t actually starving on account of their rampant ignorance. Or if it didn’t mean yet more more suffering and death for a country that´s already in tatters.

But it’s not funny. Not like this. We know that their economic idiocy is inversely proportional to their political ruthlessness. In the wake of MUD’s recent implosion, there is not a change of government in sight . So we are damned to watch this circus play out over and over again, leaving a trail of ruined lives in its wake.

César Crespo

Evil corporate lawyer. Amateur adult person. Political news junkie. Economics dilettante.