Accelerating collapse of the Venezuelan economy – 9

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

(Cross-posted from my other blog. This was originally published on 6/20.)

The economic devastation and human suffering in Venezuela is getting worse by the day. Every article I see shows the economy has taken one more step towards utter collapse.

6/9 – Washington Post – As hunger mounts, Venezuelans turned to trash for food – A man who used to work at a bakery now searches garbage cans for food because he will starve if he doesn’t find something to eat in the trash.

He is joined by small business owners and retired people in the search for enough food to merely stay alive.

Number of people below the poverty line has skyrocketed from 52% as recently as 2014 up to 76% today.

I wonder what could have caused that devastation?

In the 535 word article, the only hint of the reason for this human suffering is citing the government’s claim that the political opposition is intentionally causing this suffering in order to throw the president out of power.

While the WP reporters are incapable of seeing the cause, at least they are able to see the suffering.

6/10 – AFT at Yahoo News – Venezuela lets Maduro recall advance, with threats – Article reports looting is increasing and more protests involve violence.

A protest by opposition legislators resulted in several of them getting beat up. Yes, legislators are getting beaten when they protest.

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Continuing human suffering in Venezuela due to 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

(Cross-posted from my other blog, which was initially published on 6/6. This is #8 series of posts on the crisis in Venezuela.)

Just in case you think I’ve been too hard in my description of the devastation in Venezuela or I’ve been too blunt in laying blame for the suffering at the feet of socialism, just check out Prof. Mark Perry’s column:  Venezuelan apocalypse: Some updates on the epic failure of socialism in oil-rich Venezuela.

Keep in mind this human suffering is taking place in a country that has more proven oil reserves that Saudi Arabia.

Here are a few tidbits from the article:

5/4 – Pan Am Post – Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons at Food Runs Out – Yes, cats, dogs, and even pigeons are disappearing. As I’ve said before, it is a sign of a famine-in-progress when dogs and cats start to disappear from the streets.

5/15 – BBC News – Venezuela crisis: Maduro threatens seizure of closed factories.

I must quote the professor: (more…)

This is what the lack of freedom looks like

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This freedom stuff is not just some abstract concept. The lack of economic, political, or religious freedom is ugly and painful.

If you want to see what the lack of economic and political freedom looks like, consider Venezuela today.

5/20 – Yahoo News – Venezuela, where a hamburger is officially $170 – That hamburger priced at 1,700 bolivars is US$170 at the official exchange rate. At black market exchange rates it is about a buck and a half.

Article reports that the middle class is sliding into  poverty. Keep in mind people are essentially paid at the official exchange rate.

Stores that sell anything other than food are closed. Article says nobody is buying anything other than food.

What is going on in Venezuela?

5/28 – New York Times – Venezuela Drifts Into New territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown – The New York Times notices the devastation afflicting the people of Venezuela.

Government offices are only open two half-days each week.

Article says protests at empty grocery stores are turning violent.

The bottler producing Coca-cola products cannot find sugar so it is halting production.

Other suffering this article doesn’t mention:

No toilet paper on the grocery store shelf and no international phone service.

The country’s largest beer producer can’t get enough foreign currency to buy hops so it has stopped making beer.

Water is rationed.

Electricity is only available sometimes and randomly at that.

Infants are dying in hospitals because of lack of medicine and respirators.

Back to the NYT article.

When water is on, people are gathering some in spare buckets for use later. The water (when available) is brownish and is making members of one quoted family sick. Many people say either lack of washing or the water itself is causing illness.

What is the cause of this suffering?

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Explanations for the collapsing Venezuelan economy that avoid the actual cause – 7

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As the level of massive, avoidable, preventable, yet fully predictable suffering expands without end, we see two new explanations for the suffering.

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

5/18 – Daily Mail – No electricity, no antibiotics, no beds, no soap: A devastating look inside Venezuela’s crisis-hit hospitals where 7 babies die a day, bleeding patients lie strewn on the floor, and doctors try to operate without tools. Hospitals have minimal electricity, no soap, no antibiotics, no gloves, no x-rays.

Even The Guardian is seeing horrid problems in the socialist paradise.  Yes, The Guardian!

5/18 – The Guardian – Venezuelans on the food and economic crisis blighting their daily lives / Food shortages and soaring black market prices are making life a misery for  people across the country  – One person says that essentially every grocery store in Caracas has hundreds of people in line every day.

One woman says she has not been able to buy milk, sugar, or corn flour in about the last five months. Toilet paper, soap, and deodorant are very difficult to find as well, she said.

Article tells of supply trucks on their way to a grocery store being looted. There are 107 episodes of looting reported so far in 2016.

Article says many people are spending all their time trying to find food in the stores.

What caused this horrible humanitarian disaster? Here are two new explanations.

We finally know what caused all the suffering

1.It’s the fault of the political opposition

Aha! The Associated Press finally explains the cause of the economic collapse. It is the fault of the opposition political party creating a political standoff. They made this mess, not the current government.

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Venezuela continues slide into chaos – 6

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

Things are bad and likely to get far worse for the people living in Venezuela. More reports of looting are appearing in news stories. Read between the lines on the comment from a mayor who says that dogs and cats are disappearing from the streets.

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

5/14 – Zero Hedge – Scenes From the Venezuela Apocalypse: “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking for Food – Opening photo shows over 100 soldiers (by my count) holding back a huge crowd on a street.

Article reports on several specific stores being looted with comments there have been many more in the last two weeks. There is so little food and when available it is expensive. More people are slipping into severe hunger. Widespread looting is the expected next step in the collapse of the country.

The mayor of Chacao in Caracas said the cats and dogs in the city are disappearing. Pigeons as well. That is traditionally a sign of famine.

5/13 – Reuters – U.S. concern grows over possible Venezuela meltdown – officials(more…)

Ongoing deterioration in the Venezuelan economy and increased suffering – 5

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The level of suffering is increasing and the economy continues collapsing in Venezuela.

A few articles to describe this live demonstration of the glorious success of socialism:

  • Food becoming scarcer.
  • Soldiers stealing goats so they have something to eat.
  • Hard core socialists blame the suffering on everything but socialism.
  • A better description of the cause. Also, comments that looting and rioting has started to appear.

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

5/2 – Business Insider – “We want out of this agony’: What it’s like to eat in a country that’s on the verge of collapse – Food is getting even more scarce in Venezuela. You have to stand in line for many hours in order to buy a few items that are on the shelf. Oh, there is little on the shelves.

Poor people are skipping meals because they can’t afford what little can be found, and what little they can find and afford comes with the additional price of standing in line all day.

5/4 – CNBC – How bad is it in Venezuela?  Soldiers are stealing goats – Six soldiers were arrested over the weekend by local police for stealing goats.

Why rip off goats?

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Ongoing deterioration in the Venezuelan economy – 4

The soon-to-be condition of working light bulb in Venezuela. Photo by James Ulvog.

The soon-to-be condition of working light bulbs in Venezuela. Photo by James Ulvog.

One old joke and two new ones:

  • What did socialists use before candles? Electricity.
  • Before tree leaves? Toilet paper.
  • Before the telegraph? Telephone and email.

Was planning to hold on to this post for a while, but the bad news is piling up too fast. Need to print this while it is still of readable length.

Bonus question for the day: What economic system is in place in Venezuela that is producing these results?

4/15 – Yahoo News – In Venezuela, no toilet paper and now lousy phone service The government distributes dollars as it wishes. It has not provided enough dollars to telephone companies and cable companies for them in turn to pay their providers. As a result several international telecoms have cut off long-distance services to the country. In addition vendors providing cable channels are cutting their services because they haven’t been paid.

As a result, telephone service is deteriorating and the number of channels available on cable TV is dropping.

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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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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.

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Why I am so optimistic – 2

200 years ago subsistence agriculture was the norm across the planet. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

200 years ago brutal poverty was the norm across the planet. Not so today. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Previously mentioned when I look at long-term economic trends I am incredibly optimistic. When I look at the headlines this morning or news from the political world, I am very discouraged.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

To see one illustration of why I am so optimistic for the long-term, check out a column by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: Actually, things are pretty good / Free markets and free inquiry have changed the historic ‘norms’ of poverty and violence.

Earlier post summarized in one paragraph what caused this radical improvement.

Here are a final two points from the article I’d like to highlight:

Second, it is possible for us collectively to turn back history.

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“Corruption Is Just a Symptom, Not the Disease”

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Professors Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson explain Corruption Is Just a Symptom, Not the Disease / To end global poverty, stop tolerating national institutions that serve greedy elites and suck poor countries dry, on 12/5 in the Wall Street Journal.

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

Corruption is the highly visible symptom of much deeper issues.

The real problem?

The lack of an operating justice system. The lack of accountability. The lack of a free press that can actually get away with challenging those in power – that means reporters don’t get beat up, thrown in jail, or killed when they irritate political leaders.

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In addition to gracious help from Indians, what moved the Pilgrims from starving to thriving?

The first winter for the Pilgrims was terrible. Between starvation, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, about half died.

The second winter was terrible, again with little food. Those who survived the first two winters only did so by the goodness of the Native Americans who graciously shared their food.

The third winter was far better, with plenty of food. In a few years, there was enough abundance that the Pilgrims had paid off their debt to those who financed their trip. They were alive, thriving, and free of debt.

Those are a few highlights of the Pilgrims’ story told by Karl Denninger in his article from 2006, which is reposted at Market-Ticker:  The Truth About Thanksgiving.

What caused the change from starving to thriving is the part of the story I never heard growing up.

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Puritans started with socialism and price controls before they jumped to capitalism

There is a concept loose in the U.S. and emphasized in our educational system that the Puritans arrived in the U.S. believing in capitalism and went straight to economic prosperity.

Well, capitalism will definitely do that, but the Puritans made a few stops before getting to prosperity. Those included socialism, price controls, and severe caps on finance & trade under the guise of opposing usury. All of those policies will suppress economic development.

Jerry Bowyer explores this journey through false ideas is a series of articles, which summarize his interview with Mark Valeri, author of Heavenly Merchandize.

To encourage you to check out the full articles, I’ll try to summarize some key ideas.

7/30 – Forbes – Jerry Bowyer – Puritans vs. Capitalism: How A Theological Error Led To Financial Stagnation – In the 17th century, pastors and religious leaders were opposed to usury which included even discounting letters of credit more than a small amount. If you can’t use paper (bills of credit) to facilitate long-distance trading, there won’t be much trading.

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Your thinking experiment for the day: What economic and political system exists in one country with expanding oil production and another country with collapsing production?

Consider the following two stories.

One country with rapidly expanding oil production with no end of the increase in sight. The other country is a member of OPEC and will start importing light crude.

I’ll ask two questions after mentioning the articles, which are reposted from my other blog, Outrun Change. (more…)