Photo: Sputnik News retrieved

In March 2014, the then President of Venezuela’s Central Bank (BCV), Nelson Merentes, claimed that the “Scarcity Index” (which measures the prevalence of consumer good shortages) was being reported to President Nicolás Maduro, but that BCV wasn’t going to allow such information to be used as a political weapon. Long story short: BCV would stop publishing the index.

This launched a campaign to conceal socio-economic data that, according to the Venezuelan Constitution, must be disclosed and made public on a regular basis.

Now, Venezuela is going through the deepest economic crisis in its history and with no official indicators to quantify the crisis, millions of decisions are being made blindly… or not made at all.

Maduro’s government is always trying to sell the idea that any indicator not coming from the BCV or the National Institute of Statistics is unreliable, but unofficial data is widely available, and its calculation methodology is more transparent than any official figures.

Instead of crying my eyes out over the ever-missing official socio-economic indicators, I’ll just make a catalog of the best indicators we have access to:

Inflation and GDP

The opposition majority in the National Assembly started calculating and publishing a national Consumer Price Index (CPI) in January, 2017, and a Monthly Economic Activity Indicator (as a GDP proxy) in December, 2017. The latter uses publicly available data on things like active oil rigs, vehicle sales and bank balances to generate a proxy for the secret GDP number — a fuller explanation is here.

Ángel Alvarado, a member of the AN, publishes them regularly on his website. If you’d like a more detailed tracking of price increases, you can get the Inflaciómetro for Caracas, calculated by CEDICE Libertad, straight into your inbox every two weeks by subscribing here.

Cost of the basic food basket

The Center for Documentation and Social Analysis of the Venezuelan Teachers Federation (known as Cendas-FVM) calculates the cost of the CPI food basket, the shortage of certain basic consumption goods and even the average cost of a worker’s lunch.

Cendas-FVM will regularly distribute the information via press releases.

State of local industries

The Venezuelan Industrial Confederation (known as Conindustria) publishes the results of a quarterly qualitative survey on the state of local industries to identify, for example, the main factors restricting local production, which shows a high correlation with Venezuela’s YOY growth rate of real GDP.

Central Government Budget

The Central Government Budget long ago became a saludo a la bandera,  and on top of that it’s almost impossible to access it. This is why Transparencia Venezuela decided to share all the documents related to government budgets on their website.

This NGO also tracked budget expenditures up to 2016 and créditos adicionales up to 2017.

Official Gazette

During the second semester of 2015, the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (IPYS Venezuela) and Transparencia Venezuela organized a multidisciplinary team to create Vendata, an online search platform that provides easier access to Venezuelan official data. Vendata has released data from Venezuela´s official gazettes related to, for instance, designations of public officials, the creation of state companies and entities, the approval of laws, sanctions, expropriations and military ascensions, as well as data contained in the performance reports of the public Prosecutor’s Office, the Comptroller General’s Office and the Ombudsman.

Living conditions

Three of the most important universities in Venezuela (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Universidad Central de Venezuela and Universidad Simón Bolívar) launched a yearly nationwide survey of living conditions (known as Encovi) in 2014, to document socio-economic issues, including income and employment. You can find the results here.

Public hospital conditions

NGO Médicos por la Salud launched a yearly nationwide survey of public hospital conditions (known as ENH) in 2014. You can find the results here.

Child malnutrition

Since October 2016, Cáritas Venezuela, a Catholic church charity, has monitored child malnutrition in some of the country’s poorest parishes. You can find the results here.

High profile businessmen and politicians

Poderopedia is a collaborative data journalism platform that maps who’s who in Venezuela. You find details about high profile businessmen, politicians and even student leaders.

Mandatory broadcasts

Mandatory TV and radio presidential broadcasts have become an almost daily event. CIC-UCAB and Monitoreo Ciudadano joined efforts to put a number on how much this costs, and you can see all the data registered since 2013 here.

Cotejo Info started registering this number in 2018, and you can get it here.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

16 COMMENTS

  1. You don’t need a Venn diagram . I though it said vendetta , not Vendata .
    Even the venerated vengeful ventriloquist ventured to vent his venom in this venue .

    • There once was a man who was a Venny Trader
      He’d post only now and then, but swear he’d be back later
      Then as the storm clouds blew in
      We all asked him, when
      But by then it was clear he’d reached his nadir.

  2. There once was a man named Venny Trader
    He’d post confidently on his profits over the howls of the haters.
    Then as the storm clouds blew in
    and the bonds turned the value of tin.
    He vanished from the board, without a see-you-later.

    (first post since the chronicles “day of censure”)

    • Quico’s kinder, gentler, civility standard seems to have gone over like a turd in the punchbowl. There was supposed to be an influx of talented, open-minded, discussion-oriented and thoughtful posters. Instead it’s looking like he’s still got us.

      Welcome back.

  3. Thank you for showing us other places to get data on Venezuela.

    I am reminded of an online conversation I once had at a US blog. I posted data from the World Bank showing that, even when oil was selling for $100/BBL, economic growth during Chavismo was below average compared to Latin America and the world. The reply came back that the World Bank, controlled by the Evil Empire, would of course post false data about Venezuela. My reply was that per capita income growth for Venezuela that the World Bank posted in constant LCUs (local currency units) was the same as what the BCV posted in constant Bs.

    The World Bank has very little economic data past 2014 for Venezuela, but the IMF posts estimates.

    I find it difficult to get a handle on budgets and the economy with Venezuela’s hyperinflation.

    • “I find it difficult to get a handle on budgets and the economy with Venezuela’s hyperinflation.”

      You should try running a business here. 🙂

  4. The first comment on this article was one I made in which I suggested the Billion Prices Project be included in the list, but this comment was deleted. How in God’s name can that possibly be interpreted as violation of the comments policy? Do the blog moderators want to hide the incompetence of Ms. Laroca of not including a source that clearly should have been included???

    • The problem is we no longer know what motivates getting a comment deleted. Perhaps some clarification is needed so people will not waste their proverbial breath.

    • Pilkunnussija: “Do the blog moderators want to hide the ______ of Ms. Laroca…???”

      Mr. or Ms. Pilkunnussija, I believe personal insults should be out of bounds in the comments section, especially unfair in this case where Isabella Laroca’s article offers such useful and timely information.

      I googled “Billion Prices Project” and found out that it is an ongoing study that is run by MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School. It has an interesting methodology and a special section on Venezuela that is very detailed. For example I found out that for December 2018 the monthly inflation rate in the country was 440%. http://www.inflacionverdadera.com/venezuela/

      So thank you Pilkunnussija and thank you Isabella Laroca.

      • Corrections:

        According to the study
        a) … for December 2018 the monthly inflation rate in the country for food and drinks was 447.22%.
        b) For the same date the monthly general inflation rate in Venezuela was 93.84%.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here