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.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Esposito: From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now… 16 years old!

    Fielding Mellish: What’s the Spanish word for straitjacket?

    Woody Allen’s “Bananas”

    • Weisbrot is a hack, his think tank almost certainly got paid handsomely for his “support”. I can’t recall if he was directly paid by the regime or not.

      He insisted in an article in June 2013 that the regime had stopped the acceleration of inflation…in 2009 he belittled those who said Venezuela’s short term gains in fighting poverty were the result of unsustainable handouts and that the oil boom was being squandered…etc etc etc.

      I wonder if his (and others like him) decade long propaganda efforts are the result of being bought, or of being an ideologue, or some combination thereof.

      • Isn’t it Weisbrot who made an incredible stink about not being on the Chavismo payroll? How he might be carrying the piss bucket for Chavismo, but they weren’t PAYING him to carry their piss bucket? Was going to sue anyone who couldn’t PROVE that he was on their payroll?

        Or am I thinking of someone else?

        • Hmmm you may be right. I don’t recall. If you look at his papers on Venezuela from his think tank over the years, it’s laughable how dead wrong they all turned out to be, which was less obvious at the time.

          People like him were used by the regime to give dress up their ‘progress’. His hands are not clean in the massive suffering of the Venezuelan people.

    • “First, the Bolivarian experiment did pretty well until 2014” Mark Weisbrot.

      It was evident by 2013, when oil sold for ~$100/BBL, that Venezuela’s economy had problems that could not be blamed on a low oil price. When Chavez was elected in 1998, Venezuelan oil was selling for around $11/BBL. The price of oil rebounded to the $20s in 1999, the year that Chavez took office. When Chavez died in 2013, Venezuelan oil was selling for around $100/BBL. How did Venezuela’s economy perform with this oil price bonanza, compared to the rest of the world? Not very well, it turns out.

      GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2011 international$), % increase 1998-2013
      East Asia & Pacific (excluding high income) 192.1%
      Upper middle income 109.3%
      South Asia 102.4%
      Middle income 96.1%
      Low & middle income 91.7%
      Lower middle income 83.4%
      Least developed countries: UN classification 67.5%
      World 44.5%
      Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding high income) 42.4%
      Middle East & North Africa 39.5%
      Latin America & Caribbean 30.1%
      Venezuela 15.2 %

      In spite of the bonanza in oil export income from 1999-2013,the performance of the Venezuelan economy was anemic compared to other countries. Chavista Venezuela’s economic problems cannot be blamed on a low oil price. Rather, a low oil price exacerbated the underlying economic problems of Chavista Venezuela.

      Similarly, for all the brouhaha about Medical Missions and Cuban physicians, Chavista performance in public health was lackluster compared to the rest of Latin America. Life expectancy and Infant Mortality are the gold standards by which a country’s health system is judged. From 1998 to 2013, Venezuela’s Life Expectancy went from 9th in Latin America to 12th in Latin America. That indicates that most countries in Latin America performed better than Latin America in improving Life Expectancy. From 1998 to 2013, Venezuela ranked 20th out of 21 countries in Latin America (Romance Language speaking) in improving Life Expectancy. From 1998 to 2013, Venezuela’s Infant Mortality went from 6th to 7th in Latin America, which indicates a slightly below average improvement compared to the rest of Latin America. But those Medical Misiones and Cuban physicians were SO GREAT, doncha’ know?

      http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators

    • Despite the huge efforts to collect evidence, seems the most effective evidence in the prosecution’s posession has been the WhatsApp chats of the defendants.

      • ´The whatsapp chats are evidence in the murder they’re implied, not in the drug dealing nor in their relationship to narcolázzz and narco-aunt.

        • From a law journal regarding the trial: “In the Flores and de Freitas prosecutions, the government’s key witness, Jose Santos-Pena, was a paid informant working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). During the course of several years, Santos-Pena’s son and Santos-Pena had been paid more than $1 million by the DEA for information about various drug traffickers. It was Santos-Pena who secretly recorded conversations with the two nephews about a deal to import cocaine into the United States—recordings that were crucial evidence at trial.
          But on cross-examination, Santos-Pena was confronted with prison phone recordings obtained by the defense suggesting he was trafficking in drugs while in prison and communicating with his son. Under prior questioning on direct from the government, he had testified to the contrary.
          The revelations of the prison calls forced the government to announce, in dramatic fashion before the jury, that it was ripping up Santos-Pena’s cooperation agreement. In instructions to the jury, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty also made it clear that the government had told Santos-Pena he would not receive his cooperation letter and that the jury could discount his testimony.”

          • Santos Peña recorded Ren and Stimpy dealing to bring cocaine to USA, so the narco nephews buried themselves anyway because they spoke about smuggling drugs.

            There was also the plane loaded with 800 Kg of cocaine under their possession when they were captured too.

            So yeah, so far the only circumstantial evidence is on the murder case, not in the drug trafficking case.

  2. 1)-These guys have misplaced their religious needs in Marxism. When Marxism fails it is not because it was a bad idea (history be damned!), it was because the sinful believer was not pure enough to bring about the new age (and if you have any doubts read some Aporrea!).

    2)-Chavismo has moved the dispute away from politics into a military problem. The MUD has no military response, so in this game of brute force it is a rather feckless player. At least they have made it clear to the world that Chavismo established a military dictatorship.

    3)-Chavismo has created a humanitarian crisis porque les ronca. With true sadness for the human cost, the economic debacle is its undoing. As the self imposed siege of Venezuela tightens the military supporting Chavismo will find its defeat. With the absolute power that Chavismo has taken they are likewise absolutely responsible for the humanitarian crisis.

    • Actually, the thing is:

      1) chavismo blames everything else because they won’t change the model that has granted them absolute control and domination over the now helpess people of Venezuela, so they continue insisting that “socialism is good”, because “socialism” is actually “slavery under the castro communist invaders’ boots”

      2) chavismo used violence to frighten people into silence and inaction via exemplary executions, because they know they can’t keep fighting indefinitely angry mobs left and right, the chavismo’s ideal scenario is not “brute force violence”, it is “people sitting in their houses not doing anything to disturb the looting”

      3) chavismo created the humanitarian crisis because that’s their method of subjugating the people, they did it with all the intent and full knowledge of cause.

  3. I see a dollarization in Venezuelas future. Because if these three morons are the best that Venezuela has to offer, there isn’t any way the Bolivar recovers.

    Spend what you have, kids. Your guess is as good as any what your money is going to be worth tomorrow.

    • The best Venezuela can offer are world-class economists.

      Unfortunately they are almost all abroad and all are “opposition”, so…

  4. They can be idiots, but they’re idiots who’ve reigned supreme for almost 20 years in Venezuela.

    What does that say about the opposition?

    • That the opposition’s current “leadership” doesn’t want to get the power because they don’t want to carry out the “unpopular economic measures that will harm their political capital”

  5. I have become addicted to reading Aporrea posts using the Google translator. The refusal of the rest of the world to be their slaves is maddening to them. From each according to the abilities, to each according to theirs needs, unless of course you are some sort of demi-God university professor, in which case you should get more because of your obvious importance. Good stuff!

        • Wow. What the hell did I just read. These people are on a different planet.
          Just throws out words in a manner that has no correlation with their actual meaning, and ends on a characteristically delusional and grandiose note. You can basically just use this same post and change a few words, and publish it every few months (whenever Maduro’s regime announces some new highfalutin economic decrees.

          “It will have the capacity this economic trigger to revolutionize a new system, what is clear is that it is an act of courage of the President of the Republic Nicholas Maduro and his people who accompany him, we will live and win, because for this we were born.”

          I think people like this author must have never had any basic class on economics or finance or trade, and are self taught through reading the garbage that the regime publishes over the years or taking their propaganda like “classes”. I mean, how else would they sit down and write something like this and think it makes any sense or has any relationship to reality, economics, scarcity, inflation, etc. It’s mind-boggling.

          • Most of their posts are like that. Lots of proclaiming glorious revolution following lots of whining about the lack of living standard to which they had been accustomed. I assume some of the nonsensical sentences are due to the translator, but you Spanish reading folks would know.

          • In Spanish, it is verbiage. Which helps explain why it is verbiage in translation.

            One irony is that the article quotes Albert Einstein. A quote attributed to Einstein rather well describes Chavismo.
            The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
            Such as expecting more price controls will improve things, when time and again price controls have worsened things.

        • William Torcátiz certainly is eloquent when it comes to how Chavismo must deal with these “rats” who aspire to run for office and turn back the Bolivarian tide!

          My goodness… why not just arrest all of the opposition, offer them a courtesy trial (and conviction!), and burn them at the stake? Torcátiz makes Taliban rhetoric look quite quaint.

  6. It might be too early to call PEAK idiocy, they can always surprise you with even further idiocy. People have been calling peak idiocy on these guys since the “gallineros verticales” as an economic plan, just to be proven wrong time and again that idiocy continues to grow..

  7. Good writing, but irony and outraged editorials have become threadbare. The communists won, and they will continue to do what they have always done; starve you. Starve your mind as in Venezuela will contribute nothing to the world intellectually for generations. Starve you morally which is coming along quite nicely, as “the people” murder each other at the #1 rate on this planet.

    Starve you physically. It won’t be long before Venezuelans are 10 cm shorter than Colombians in a North Koreanish way. Eating grass that will never grow again.

    Starve your soul. Done. The Venezuelan soul withers in Miami. In Toronto. Here and there until it winks out for good.

    I have looked too long into this abyss. Farewell and Godspeed.

  8. The absence of circulating currency is becoming dramatic and these guys dont want people to blame them for the ocurrence so they are publicising a story line where the problem was caused by avaritious bankers merchants whom they will now bravely fight to rescue the country from this coin crisis……!!

    Dont think there is anything else to this …….

    • The revolution in a nutshell:

      1) Set a system of perverse incentives
      2) Get outraged when people other than them go for the perverse incentives
      3) Distract public opinion about the disaster of the system by going after the small guys falling for the perverse incentives
      4) Set a system of perverse incentives to fix the system of perverse incentives …

  9. 1) Chavismo passes a law to build a monopoly on foreign currency.
    2) Chavismo orders worthless bolivars to be printed as an excuse to print more notes and thus steal more dollars in the guiso.
    3) Chavismo then hoards the same notes to buy/sell smuggled basic products in the borders (Cúcuta, Santa Elena de Guairén)
    4) Chavismo decrees that everybody else must stick to “electronic payments” so they can hoard all the cash as they want.
    5) Chavismo orders banks to stop people from opening accounts with the excuse that they might be laundering money.
    6) Chavismo whines and cries claiming that they never imposed any requisite to the banks to open accounts.
    7) Chavismo blocks comunications in Venezuela so sale points can’t “pass” the transactions.
    8) Chavismo denies the banks he chace to buy the foreign currency needed to repair the sale points that get damaged, thus, many sale points are now sitting there being all around useless.
    9) Chavismo complains that people isn’t using electronic payments enough.
    10) Chavismo orders banks to stop giving people so much cash because cash is “scarce” now, so they can continue hoarding it for their continued smuggling and paying the malandros in their payroll.
    11) Chavismo cries like a magdalena that everybody’s blaming them for the cash scarcity, so they have to find a scapegoat fast.

  10. You know things are bad when you longingly remember the days when economic “gurus” like Nelson Merentes were in charge of our finances.

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