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.

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Now gasoline shortages in the country with the world’s largest amount of proven oil reserves. What economic system could possibly create this mess?

In Venezuela, that sign is needed at hospital pharmacies, bakeries, and now  at gasoline stations. Image Courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The shortages and suffering in Venezuela continues. Your homework for the day: what economic system provides this level of suffering?

  • Foreign reserves are shrinking
  • Bakeries threatened if they bake too many sweets and not enough price-controlled bread
  • Pregnant women are leaving the country to deliver their babies
  • Gasoline shortages appear

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

3/1/17 – CNN Money – Venezuela is down to its last $10 billion – The country’s foreign reserves are down to $10.5B, from $20B in 2015, and $30B in 2011. That info in sourced to the Central Bank of Venezuela.

Article says inflation is expected to hit 1660% this year and 2880% in 2018.

3/13 – PanamPost – Venezuelan Regime Threatens to Expropriate bBakeries, Jeopardizing Bread – In addition to price controls and currency controls, the government is going to impose output requirements on bakeries. If they don’t produce bread all day at the government limited price, they are subject to take over by the government. Left out of their miscalculation is that the government has stopped importing wheat flour.

If bakeries don’t bake enough bread, the government will close the shops.

3/16/17 – Yahoo News – Venezuela arrests brownie and croissant bakers in ‘bread war’ – Well, that didn’t take long.

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Largest denomination Venezuelan currency in circulation voided without any larger bills to replace them. #18

The poor living in those houses in Caracas are suffering greatly as a result of intentional government policies. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The poor living in those houses in Caracas are suffering greatly as a result of intentional government policies. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The devastation in Venezuela would be funny if this was a make-believe movie or some hair brained dystopian novel. Sadly, we are watching live as millions of real people suffer from deliberate government policies.

The current 100 Bolivar note has been voided while the higher denomination bills have not been put into circulation. Sounds like a good plan to make hungry people hungrier.

12/13 – Fusion – Venezuelans fight to protect their savings as government pulls bills from circulation – After the government gave short notice that the largest bill, the 100 Bolivar note, will be pulled from circulation, people across the country have gone into panic mode to get their currency deposited in a bank.

Anyone who can’t get their money deposited by today, Wednesday, has 10 days to exchange the bills at a government location.

Only problem with that concept?

The government hasn’t announced any authorized exchange locations.

12/16 – Bloomberg – Venezuelan Odyssey for Cash Endures With Delay of New Bills – Surprise, surprise! The new bills, up to a 20,000 Bolivar note, weren’t available on Thursday.

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Another round of intentionally caused suffering in Venezuela as government makes largest denomination bill illegal- #17

One graph illustrates the inflation rate in Venezuela and the other represents economic performance. Image courtesy of Adobe stock.

One graph illustrates the inflation rate in Venezuela and the other represents economic performance. Image courtesy of Adobe stock.

Government will withdraw all 100 Bolivar notes from circulation after Wednesday, tomorrow. The level of suffering will increase even further.

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

12/4 – AP – Venezuela to issue larger bill as currency continues to melt – Article says the central bank has announced they will issue bills in the 500 to 20,000 Bolivar range. This follows up on previous reports saying they were planning to do so.

The exchange rate is now 4,587 Bolivars to the dollar.

Article says that is a deterioration by a factor of five in the last year.

The official exchange rates are 10 and 663 to the dollar.

12/10 – BBC News – Venezuela seizes Christmas toys to distribute to poor(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.

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Suffering increases in Venezuela, all as a result of official government policies

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

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

The level of suffering in Venezuela is increasing. All of the blame for the current and future suffering can be laid at the feet of the socialist government.

Previously mentioned Venezuela is in the early stages of hyperinflation:  Instead of reading about hyperinflation and economic collapse in history, you can watch it play out live. Tune in to Venezuela.

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

Some more discussion on the increased suffering:

2/6 – The Economist – The endgame in Venezuela – A few stats from the article:

Government acknowledges that for the 12 months ending 9/2015, inflation was 141% and the economy shrank 7.1%.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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Frauds are a cancer destroying capitalism

My previous post described a comment by Sam Antar during his CPE session that the fines arising from of a long list of financial fiascos are essentially a tax on illegal behavior.

He made another comment in that session that I wanted to describe in detail. He said these frauds are a cancer destroying capitalism.

I had opportunity to visit with him a few weeks ago and asked him to expand on this idea. I will summarize what we discussed.

This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Attestation Update, since it directly affects freedom, capitalism, and morality.

Cancer destroying capitalism

He indicated the foundation of capitalism is reliability of financial information. If you can trust financial information you read then we can do business with each other.

He says the extent of frauds we have seen are leading people to lose faith in financial information. That leads to loosing faith in their counterparties. Therefore people have less trust. In financial terms that means the risk premiums for transactions go up. The interest rate built into a transaction increases and the return drops.

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Huge fines are a tax on illegal behavior

Several weeks ago I listened to a continuing education class presented by Sam Antar, current felon and formerly CFO of Crazy Eddie.

In the session, he made two comments that caught my ear. First, the fines we read about as a result of various financial scandals are just a tax on illegal behavior. Second, those fiascos are, he said, a cancer destroying capitalism.

After the session, I had opportunity to interview him by phone and follow-up on both of those ideas.

(This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Attestation Update, because this is not capitalism and I don’t think the underlying issue furthers freedom.)

Fines are a tax on illegal behavior

He indicated that essentially no one has been implicated in any of the disasters we’ve read about, which I have discussed extensively on my blog.

He said corporations don’t commit crimes. People commit crimes.

And the people who committed crimes aren’t going to jail.

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Protectionism – Can someone explain to me how that can be moral ?

Protectionism is the idea that the government can protect me from foreign companies that want to sell me something at a lower price that the government thinks is fair. As a result, I pay more than I would otherwise.

Professor Don Boudreaux published a letter to Wall Street Journal editor explaining why protectionism is immoral. Here’s his letter, quoted in full since it is an open letter to the editor,with the key paragraph expanded into bullet points: (more…)

Appeals court says devastation from New Deal is still okay; We lost a hero who also suffered at the hands of the New Deal

Did you know the enlightened wizards of the New Deal worked out a plan that raisin producers had to turn over a percentage of their crop to the government and not get paid for the raisins?

Yes, that was actually a plan developed back in the ‘30s.

Did you know that plan is still in place? Eighty years later?

(Cross posted from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

I discussed that a year ago – Economic destruction from the New Deal just keeps rolling on.

The lawsuit I mentioned back then involved farmers who were told to give 47% of their ’02 crop and 30% of their ’03 crop to the government without compensation.  The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled the farmers did actually have standing to sue the government. The case went to the 9th Circuit Court for consideration of their claims.

Guess what?

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