Venezuelan government supported with cash from investment bank while support from military is weakening

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A New York investment bank bought bonds from the Venezuelan central bank at a steep discount and got a lot of heat for doing so. The military is applying more violence to protesters as support from the rank and file appears to be shrinking.

5/30 – Wall Street Journal – Goldman Sachs Under Fire for Venezuela Bond Deal – Goldman bought $2.8B of bonds issued by the government-owned oil company for $865M. That is 31% of face. If, and this is a big if, the bonds were to be paid in full, on-time, at face value that would produce a 40% return.

Goldman is in a PR mess because the bonds were held by the Venezuelan central bank, meaning Goldman essentially put almost a billion dollars into the government’s hand.

Article says Goldman has been increasing their holdings of Venezuelan debt over the last few months. Their play is that if government gets its finances in order, the bonds will soar in value and Goldman will make a huge profit.

(more…)

Advertisements

Why, oh why, did production of oil and food collapse in Venezuela? What could have caused this amount of human suffering?

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Devastation in the oil industry and food supply chain in Venezuela is due to intentional government policies.

One article sees how the government caused the damage to the oil industry while another article sees the devastation in the food supply but cannot see any direct cause.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

5/7/17 – Forbes – How Venezuela Ruined Its Oil Industry – Here is a primer on how to destroy your oil industry when you have the world’s largest proven reserves of oil and are in the top 10 of world oil producers.

If you want to destroy your country, the article provides a how-to-guide, using Venezuela as the road map.

The high point of oil production in Venezuela was 3.5M bopd back in 1998, which not by coincidence was the year Hugo Chavez became president. Production then began to slip. How could that be?

After civil unrest in 2002 and 2003, Chavez fired much of the staff of the national oil company, letting go 19,000 experienced staff.

Let me translate that: 19,000 staff who knew how to produce extra-heavy oil were fired and replaced by people whose primary job skill was loyalty to the president.

Extra heavy oil takes specialized knowledge and is very expensive to produce on top of oil production already being capital-intensive.

To generate more revenue, Venezuela invited five of the oil majors to develop more oil production. The form of investment was a partnership. The five majors invested many billions of dollars in oil production.

(more…)

When do we get to call the ‘Maduro diet’ in Venezuela a crime against humanity?

Consequence of intentional government policies in Venezuela. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A one-year old child who weighs 11 pounds.

Eleven.

In what used to be the regions’s richest country, the average weight loss in the last year is 19 pounds.

That’s an average weight loss according to a survey by social scientists measuring the impact Venezuelan government policies are having on the citizens of the country.

It is called the ‘Maduro diet’ in dishonor of the president who is gladly continuing the polices that have broken the once rich nation.

It is a common site to see people picking through trash hoping to find something that is edible.

When will those of us who don’t have to decide which of our children get to eat today start calling the expected results of intentional policies a crime against humanity?

Let’s take a quick look at health care in Venezuela before returning to the starvation issue.

Collapse of the health care system

The medical crisis is so bad that even CNN has noticed. On 5/11/17 they reported Amid chaos in Venezuela, infant deaths, malaria cases skyrocket.

 

The government released statistics for 2016. They reported:

(more…)

Updates on continuing suffering in Venezuela – #20

Venezuela doesn't have enough money to get tankers out to international waters. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Venezuela doesn’t have enough money to scrub down hulls of tankers so they can enter international waters. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The suffering continues without a break. One of the more ominous articles describes that Venezuela is so short of currency that the national oil company cannot afford to scrub down the hull of oil tankers, which is required before they enter international waters – the country cannot even get the oil in those loaded tankers to market.

1/6 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Tees Up Its Next Dictator – The Venezuelan president faces a recall election this year. It looks like in anticipation of losing the election, a new vice president has been appointed. Under the country’s rules, if the president lost a recall before the end of 2016, there would have been a new election. If he is voted out after the first of 2017, the VP will take over.

The editorial points out the new VP will likely continue the present policies. He was previously a follower of the previous president. WSJ reporting indicates while the new VP was governor of a state, there were two Iranian companies (owned by the Iranian military) who had joint ventures with military in that state. More info in the editorial pointing to the new guy won’t be a change in direction.

Thus the opposition needs to decide which dictator they wish to rule them.

1/9 – International Business Times – Nicolas Maduro raises minimum wage in Venezuela by 50%(more…)

Higher denomination bills still not available in Venezuela. Oh, by the way, socialism kills.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Well, never mind about turning in those worthless bills.

12/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Extends Use of 100-Bolivar Note to Jan. 2 – Since the large denomination replacement bills are not ready, the government graciously and on spur-of-the-moment decided to let people have until January 2 to turn in all their 100 Bolivar notes, each of which is worth about three US cents. By government dictat, the 100 bills will be valid until 1/2/17.

12/19 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Deploys Troops After Weekend Riots – Looting is spreading. Government sent 3,000 soldiers to the state of Bolivar after looting there.

12/30 – Associated Press at Wall Street Journal Venezuela’s President Once Again Extends 100-Bolivar Note’s Deadline – Deadline to turn in all 100 Bolivar bills before they become null and void has been extended a second time. Venezuelan citizens have until January 20 to turn in all the old bills.

The problem? The higher denomination bills are still not ready for distribution.

12/25 – New York Times – No Food, No Medicine, No Respite: A Starving Boy’s Death in Venezuela Focus of the article is not on surgeons who operate on bloodied tables because there is not enough water to wash it off, let alone enough sterilizing solution to make it clean. Neither is the focus on psychiatric hospitals where the lack of medicine’s forces the staff to tie psychiatric patients to their chairs.

That’s the state of medicine in Venezuela, but instead the article focuses on the death of one 16-year-old young man.

(more…)

“Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire” infographic

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Telling the tale of the collapse of the Roman Empire is a challenge even in a full length book. Presenting one slice of the story in an easily read and understood infographic is even more of a challenge.

The Money Project is a blog run by Visual Capitalist which focuses on illustrating complex ideas. Their infographic Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire does a great job of describing how debasement of the currency and the resulting inflation made trade more difficult which in turn contributed to the collapse.

Oh, used with permission of Visual Capitalist. (Cross-posted from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

A great story with many lessons to be learned for anyone willing to think for a while:

(more…)

Continued deterioration in the Venezuelan economy

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The citizens of Venezuela continue to suffer at the hands of their elected officials.

Question for you to ponder: Is there a particular economic system that is causing all the suffering?

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

2/29 – AP at Fox News – Inflation-hit Venezuela to print bigger bills – Central Bank president says Venezuela will start printing 500 and 1,000 bolivar notes sometime. No date mentioned.

Largest bill in circulation is currently the 100 note. At exchange rates in effect a month ago or so, that would be worth about US$0.10. Largest bill in circulation is equal to about one American dime.

How can an economy function in such circumstances? Not very well.

3/4 – According to dolartoday.com, the exchange rate is 1,105 bolivars to the dollar. That means 100 bolivars is 9.05 cents.

3/18 – Exchange rate is 1,211, or 100 bolivars is 8.25 cents.

3/18 – Foundation for Economic Education – What Did Venezuela Use Before Candles? Electricity.

(more…)

Instead of reading about hyperinflation and economic collapse in history, you can watch it play out live. Tune in to Venezuela.

ten trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Not the largest currency in circulation, but close.

Ten trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Not the largest currency in circulation, but close. Tragedy of hyperinflation is playing out again, this time in Venezuela.

The hyperinflation in Zimbabwe resulted in a ten trillion Zim note being worth four cents in American dollars. That would be:

  • Zim$10,000,000,000,000  =  US$.04

When that level of financial devastation happens, it is the result of government policy. Usually socialists pull it off, but German also did so before WWII.

Previous posts:

Venezuela

If you are so interested, you can now watch the sad story as it plays out in Venezuela.

2/3 – Wall Street Journal – Inflation-Wrought Venezuela Orders Bank Notes by the Planeload – Usually governments deal with out-of-control inflation by adding two or three zeros to the currency. Instead of the largest bill in circulation being a 100 unit note, the next run of currency is for a 10,000 unit note. In six months or a year there will be a 500,000 or 1,000,000 note in circulation.

Article says the Venezuelan government isn’t doing that because to do so would acknowledge the astronomical inflation. As the saying goes, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Instead of acknowledging that inflation is running out of control, the government of Venezuela is flooding the economy with the same denomination note. In the last several months of 2014, the article says there were three dozen flights of 747s into the country hauling nothing but currency. Over 30 cargo holds filled with currency.

(more…)

Intentional federal policies extended Great Depression by seven years

Hunger sculpture at FRR Memorial in Washington DC. How much earlier could hunger have ended with different policies? Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

An extra seven years.

That is the conclusion two economists published back in 2004: intentional policies from FDR added seven years of suffering for the country.

Yes, that analysis was published back in 2004. Sometimes it takes me a while to catch up on the news.

On 8/10/04 the UCLA Newsroom published FDR’s policies prolonged Depression by seven years, UCLA economists calculate.  Update: The analysis is from Professors Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian

Cause

The cause of extending the Great Depression, according to the economists, was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) which protected industries from antitrust prosecution in return for adopting collective bargaining agreements. The result was unions drove up wages beyond where the market would have set them, companies were intentionally not prosecuted for collusion, thus companies cooperated in setting prices, which in turn drove up prices to consumers. As a result consumers had much more difficulty affording stuff and therefore actually bought less stuff, which further contracted the economy.

(more…)

Do you really want to give up your freedom and become a serf?

What could possibly go wrong with giving a leader the power to fix all our problems? There is a great chance said leader will use that power to force people to fix things. You could wind up being told in microscopic detail every single thing you can do.

That would merely cost you your freedom and make you a serf.

In musical terms, that might be called, oh, perhaps something like Serfdom USA:

(more…)

Big increases in federal spending and huge deficits started with Pres Hoover, not FDR

I’ve read that President Hoover was just as much an activist, interventionist president as FDR. Popular legend holds that it was FDR that opened up federal spending and started the activism.

Haven’t done my own research until today. Check out page 21 of the 2013 federal budget, found here, to see the info for yourself. That is the 25th page of the PDF. Table 1.1 lists federal receipts, outlays and surplus/deficit by year from 1901 through the 2017 estimate.

Hoover dramatically increased federal spending and started the big deficit splurge well before FDR has a chance to get his New Deal spending plans in front of Congress.

Check out the following data, which is for fiscal years ending June 30. That means the 1929 budget went into effect on 7/1/28, well before the election. Thus, the 1930 budget is the first that we can attribute to Hoover. The 1931 budget is essentially the first that was drafted and approved in light of the developing depression.  The 1934 budget is the first that belongs to FDR.

Amounts in millions of dollars:

(more…)

More on who owns the fruit of your labors – raisin edition

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a few more comments on the Supreme Court ruling that when the Department of Agriculture ‘takes’ a portion of the crop from raisin farmers, the farmers have to be paid for the ‘taking’: Raisin Owners in the Sun. Previous discussion of the ruling is here.

Editorial points out the law authorizing the feds to take whatever amount of agricultural crops they want and pay whatever little amount they want was passed in 1937, which is 78 years ago. This case centers on crops that were seized in 2003 and 2004. The later of those two attempted seizures was 11 years ago.

That makes eight decades for the Supreme Court to get around to reading the Constitution and just over a decade for this case to work its way through the legal system.

(more…)

About those raisins – one part of New Deal destruction reversed by Supreme Court after about eight decades

Did you know raisin growers have to turn over a huge portion of their crop to the federal government? Growers get paid whatever is left over after the feds sell at a discount, giveaway or throw in the trash the reasons they collected.

In one year, a particular farmer got back less than what cost him to raise the raisins. In the following year he got zero. Zip.

Well, the good news is that as of today, that one specific New Deal program comes to an end. At least for raisins.

(cross-post from my other blog)

(more…)

More on stealing raisins. Oops. I meant to say, more on implementing the New Deal.

The New Deal policy of confiscating a portion of raisins from farmers every year in order to drive up prices to consumers has been previously discussed here, here, and here.

The Wall Street Journal provides more background on this foolishness that is being considered in the Supreme Court today: The Incredible Raisin Heist / A property-rights challenge to federal marketing orders hits the Supreme Court.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

I’ve been wondering what the Raisin Administrative Committee does with all those raisins after they are surrendered by the farmers. Editorial points out the government may sell the raisins on the open market, ship them overseas, or just give them away.

I have to find someone far brighter than me to explain how selling the raisins or giving them away stabilizes prices. Seems that would drop prices to what would otherwise be equilibrium or even lower.

The WSJ editorial outlines the progress of the case through the federal courts. I promise you this is a paraphrase of the editorial and not the outline of a dystopian political novel I’ve been mulling over.

(more…)

Supreme Court to hear arguments whether feds can continue to take raisins without compensation

For reasons that defy logic, common sense, and basic morality, the federal government still has in place a New Deal era policy that raisin farmers must turn over some percentage of their crop to the federal government without compensation.

The purpose of the program is to increase prices to consumers.

No, this isn’t an April Fool’s Day post.

No, I’m not making this up.

George Will points out in his April 17 article, Shriveled grapes, shriveled liberty, the Supreme Court will finally hear oral arguments next Wednesday (4/22) on a case that has been in court for years.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

(more…)