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.

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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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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:

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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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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.

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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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Continuing devastation in Venezuela – #16

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

You know things are horribly bad when the New York Times and Washington Post are frequently reporting on the economic devastation in the socialist paradise of Venezuela.

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

11/25 – New York Times – Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse – Mass numbers of people are fleeing Venezuela by foot, air, and now on rickety boats. The lack of food, water, electricity, and medical care is driving  people away, reminiscent of the flood of people paddling away from Cuba on tied-together inner tubes.

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Increasing political danger in Venezuela – #15

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The sinking feeling in my stomach tells me things are going to get far worse in Venezuela in the near future.

10/27 – Reuters at Yahoo news – Venezuela crisis enters dangerous phase as Maduro foes go militant – Article gives a depressing summary of the last few days.

On the same day, four different courts around the country released identical rulings saying the signatures gathered for the recall were invalid. Four courts. Same day. Identical rulings.

The election board said the referendum was off because the signatures were invalid.

Many of the opposition concluded that means they are living in a complete dictatorship.

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A short (yet long enough to be plenty depressing) history of the New Deal and why government policies extended the Great Depression

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

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

If you want more detail that can be covered in this blog explaining how the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, increasing suffering, and extending the  pain by years, check out Great Myths of the Great Depression By Lawrence W. Reed.

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on August 18.)

At a mere 47 pages, about 40 pages without the voluminous footnotes, you can get a survey of the destruction caused by FDR and the self-defined wizards who thought they could control all the details of the economy.

Here is a very short summary of the government-extended disaster. In sharp contrast to his reputation as a laid-back, do-nothing, free-marketeer, President Herbert Hoover was quite the activist. He tried all the same tricks FDR tried, although FDR was even more aggressive.

Both Hoover and FDR took a bad situation and made it far worse.

Compressing much of the story into one paragraph, here is a key explanation of the fiasco from the book:

The genesis of the Great Depression lay in the irresponsible monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These policies included a litany of political missteps: central bank mismanagement, trade-crushing tariffs, incentive-sapping taxes, mind-numbing controls on production and competition, senseless destruction of crops and cattle, and coercive labor laws, to recount just a few. It was not the free-market that produced 12 years of agony; rather, it was political bungling on a grand scale.

Like I said, a short primer on the disaster which extended the Great Depression through the end of WWII.

Venezuela slides further into the abyss – #14

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

More on the ongoing human tragedy that is the result of intentional government policies in Venezuela:

  • Infant mortality is soaring
  • Government starts to let go a bit on the widespread  price controls. Unexpectedly, food reappears on the shelves when priced at realistic prices
  • State owned oil company is losing ability to pump oil
  • Government suspends the recall effort, which leads to…
  • Lawmakers start impeachment effort

This is going to get far worse before the massive suffering ends.

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on October 28.)

10/17 – Wall Street Journal – Infant Mortality Soars in Venezuela – The infant mortality rate is soaring so far and so fast that doctors and hospitals are under pressure not to release any data because it reveals the depths of the human suffering in play.

Infant mortality is defined as the number of babies that die before their first birthday. Here is the infant morality rate, expressed in infant deaths per 1,000 live births:

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Still more horrifying news from Venezuela – #13

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 heartbreaking humanitarian crisis in Venezuela just keeps getting worse.

If only they had massive amounts of energy in the ground that they could sell.

Oh, I wonder what economic system caused this massive suffering?

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on October 12.)

9/4 – New York Times – Venezuelan President is Chased by Angry Protesters – After walking into a crowd during a political rally, the president was run off by the crowd screaming ‘we’re hungry’ accompanied with lots of banging on pots and kettles.

9/20 – New York Times – How Bad Off is Oil-Rich Venezuela? It’s Buying U.S. Oil – I don’t understand the process, but apparently you need to use light sweet crude in order to get thick sour crude out of the ground. Production in Venezuela has dropped so far that since early in 2016 the country has had to import 50,000 BOPD of light sweet from the US in order to maintain production.

Even with that, production is down to 2.4M bopd now from about 2.75M bopd a year ago. That reflects a 1M bopd drop from when Hugo Chavez took over as president in 1998.

9/26 – Fox News – Venezuelan children fainting in school because they are hungry – One very brave teacher is quoted by name. Last academic year about 10 children were absent from her class every day out of 30 students enrolled.

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Lots of malnutrition in Venezuela and conditions will get worse – 12

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Economic conditions continue to deteriorate in Venezuela. It will get worse.

(cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on August 12.)

8/5 – Miami Herald – Hunger haunts Venezuela, especially its children – Severe hunger is widespread in the country, causing children to pass out in class, killing some with malnutrition, leaving others vulnerable to malaria and mange due to lack of medicine.

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Level of human suffering still increases in Venezuela – 10

The country with the more oil reserves that Saudi Arabia is going through the following suffering. Image courtesy of Adobe Stoc.

A country with more oil reserves that Saudi Arabia has death-causing shortages of food and medicine. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

(Cross-post from my other blog.)

The humanitarian disaster in Venezuela keeps getting worse. Ponder for yourself what form of government created this crisis since no news reports will make the connection.

6/26 – Slate – How Much Worse Can Venezuela Get? / The country’s problems are profound and complex, with no easy answers in sight. – After the New York Times front page article noticed the humanitarian travesty, even Slate has an article by writers who noticed the suffering.

A few indicators of suffering these authors see? Food riots breaking out all over. Caracas is now the most violent city in the world. The government-owned and run oil company is seeing production drop because of neglect. Lack of medical supplies is causing unknown numbers of death. Dozens of political prisoners are in jail.

Article goes into more detail than usual as to the cause of the suffering. Corruption and general mismanagement are the most notable reasons cited.

The current turmoil is painted as conflict between the government and opposition in the legislature with both sides blaming the other as the cause of the problems. Most of the power is in the hands of the government with little likelihood of early resolution.

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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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