Hugo Chavez, RIP

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RDP

Maybe you are the one being lied to.  Wall Street had very little interest in Venezuela before Chavez and none since.

Rev Pesky

Mr. Magoo wrote:

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It is rather a common fallacy that oil provides wealth.

It's true.  Those Saudi royalty actually got so rich by working lots and lots of overtime.

For your information, Saudi Arabia has a higher external debt that Venezuela, and a per capita debt double that of Venezuela. Another interesting fact from the Saudi kingdom is that 90% of private sector jobs are held by foreigners.

According to Wikipedia:

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Despite possessing the largest petroleum reserves in the world, per capita income dropped from approximately $18,000 at the height of the oil boom (1981) to $7000 in 2001

But perhaps things aren't so bad for individual Saudis. Wikipedia again:

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Estimates of the number of Saudis below the poverty line range from between 12.7% and 25%. Press reports and private estimates as of 2013 "suggest that between 2 million and 4 million" of the country's native Saudis live on "less than about $530 a month" – about $17 a day – considered the poverty line in Saudi Arabia

One of the few Middle East countries to recognize  the necessity of building a manufacturing economy is Iran, thus the focus on inproving their technological infrastructure. Of course we know how the rest of the manufacturing world sees that objective...

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Fair enough.  I don't really think poverty (or lack of wealth) is Venezuela's main problem, though.  It's not that Venezuelans are staring at fully loaded supermarket shelves, with no money to buy what they need.  The problem is that the shelves are bare.  Retailers who would very much like to import products for sale can't, because they can't get hard currency from the government.  Or, if they can't find a way to sell goods for less than they paid for them, the government will accuse them of economic treason.

If Canada were to decree that the price of milk shall be 20 cents per litre, would this result in lots more Canadians having access to nutritious milk?  Or would it result in dairies and farmers simply going out of business?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

If Canada were to decree that the price of milk shall be 20 cents per litre, would this result in lots more Canadians having access to nutritious milk?  Or would it result in dairies and farmers simply going out of business?

It depends on how they subsidize the price. Like everything else in live the devil is in the details.

Oil can be priced as they want since it is state owned.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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It depends on how they subsidize the price. Like everything else in live the devil is in the details.

Well, if Canada were to do this then ideally they'd buy milk from the dairies and farmers at a fair market price, and then sell it at 20 cents, or whatever price they wish.

Otherwise, it's not the government subsidizing the milk, it's the dairies and farmers.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Exactly. The devil is in the details, including defining a fair market price. Given our very controlled dairy industry the fair market price would be very debatable.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

An easy enough starting point would be "whatever milk sold for yesterday".  I'm not sure how you'd correct that from time-to-time, once the only market for milk is artificial, but you could start with that and index it to inflation, and/or the costs of things like cattle feed and distribution.

The other option is the government just picks a number out of a hat, and that's what they pay the farmers and dairies.  Regardless of how they subsidize the price, they'd need some kind of actual number.  If a fair market price is impossible to define, what price should they go with?

lagatta

Bread and flour are one staple often heavily subsidized in much of the global South.

Red Winnipeg

I wish Chavez was still alive to see the collapse of his sand castle that was build on fossil fuels. He utterly failed to turn oil riches into a diversified economy. Any idiot can pump oil out of the ground when the price is $125 per barrel (well, even that's not entirely true -- their oil-producing infrastructure was crumbling even when oil prices were stratospheric and that dramatically reduced oil well productivity). I don't know how anyone can look at Venezuela and consider it a socialist success.

Red Winnipeg

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Aristotleded24

Red Winnipeg wrote:
I wish Chavez was still alive to see the collapse of his sand castle that was build on fossil fuels. He utterly failed to turn oil riches into a diversified economy. Any idiot can pump oil out of the ground when the price is $125 per barrel (well, even that's not entirely true -- their oil-producing infrastructure was crumbling even when oil prices were stratospheric and that dramatically reduced oil well productivity). I don't know how anyone can look at Venezuela and consider it a socialist success.

That is a valid criticism of the policies of the Chavez government, however in all fairness, Venezuela was one of the few countries in the world (perhaps the only one) that didn't use the recession as an excuse to cut programs that helped vulnerable people.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Venezuela was one of the few countries in the world (perhaps the only one) that didn't use the recession as an excuse to cut programs that helped vulnerable people.

That's admirable, but doing so by printing more currency hand-over-fist is a big part of why they're enjoying massive inflation.

And at a certain point, state-subsidization of goods "for the people" becomes moot if there simply aren't enough of those goods. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Venezuelan opposition leader sentenced to 14 years.

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In a closed-door trial human rights advocates decried as politically motivated and deeply flawed, the judge allowed only one of the 60 defence witnesses proposed by his lawyers, and rejected 30 proposed exhibits

The court did hear from over a hundred prosecution witnesses though.

Now the government can add Lopez to the growing list of opposition candidates they won't need to worry about in the upcoming elections.

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Nine opposition politicians, including López, have been barred by the national comptroller from holding office, eliminating them as candidates in the parliamentary elections. Others include María Corina Machado, another outspoken opposition politician and former member of the national assembly who lost her seat in 2014. She was disqualified from running for failing to declare food vouchers in her asset statement.

Daniel Ceballos and Vicencio Scarano, opposition mayors, were jailed for not controlling anti-government protests in 2014 and were barred from seeking public office or failing to submit administrative paperwork for their towns while they were behind bars.

I guess that's one way to win.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Nice Harvard educated fellow with deep ties to the US embassy. Before the trial his friends thought the outcome was rigged and his opponents thought he was guilty. Apparently no one was surprised by the verdict.

I am sure that like all true democrats with American training his only concern is for the best interests of the people, as defined by their corporate betters.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Nice Harvard educated fellow with deep ties to the US embassy.

No doubt that was taken into account.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

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Nice Harvard educated fellow with deep ties to the US embassy.

No doubt that was taken into account.

By all sides.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

At this trial there was only the one side.

sherpa-finn

lagatta wrote:

Bread and flour are one staple often heavily subsidized in much of the global South.

I am not sure how true that is these days, lagatta. I know subsidies to consumers still prevail in a few Middle East countries (Egypt, Jordan, maybe beyond) - with efforts to modernize the old ration card systems, etc. There they serve as both subsidy to the urban poor and tool of social / political control. But beyond the Middle East, I do not think direct food subsidies for consumers are that frequent anymore. India used to have a huge public distribution system but that has been under political attack for years.

These days one is more likely to see subsidies to producers such as the big rice subsidy program that has been at the heart of Thai politics for decades. And of course the implicit subsidy in the supply management system of Canada's dairy industry.  But those tend to be designed to support producers more than consumers.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Venezuela, of course, enjoys its well known gasoline subsidy, in which the government sells gas for less than it costs to produce.  Nominally about a nickel a gallon, but in more realistic exchange terms, about a half a U.S. cent per gallon.

Apparently some Venezuelans have been smuggling it into Columbia to sell for hard currency they can't get otherwise.  Who could have predicted something so unpredictable?

So now Venezuela has no choice to to close more borders with Columbia.

RDP

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/27/has-venezuelan-presiden...

 

The great, benevolent leader turns out to be not so great and not so benevolent.  It is getting so hard to put the blame on US Imperialism.  But keep on trying!

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

RDP That seems to be a parody site you've linked to.

Money mouth

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Nope, not a parody site.

Was there something specific in that article that you feel was "made up"?

 

RDP

Things you don't hear in Venezuela.  "Thank you dear Great Leader.  Please continue to lead us in the great and moral way that you have and continue to jail or kill political opposition."

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/venezuelan-prosecutor-railroaded-oppositio...

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Nope, not a parody site.

Was there something specific in that article that you feel was "made up"?

I guess it was the repeated reference to him as the South American Hitler that caught my eye.  I thought that kind of hyperbole must be either right wing nut bar journalism or a parody. I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

RDP

Things you don't hear in Venezuela:  "That's shocking"

http://news.yahoo.com/venezuelan-opposition-candidate-shot-dead-during-c...

RDP

Finally, a hint of encouragment: 

http://news.yahoo.com/venezuelas-socialist-party-risks-unprecedented-def...

 

I am not expecting a bloodless transition.

NDPP

Venezuela's Elections: Courage in the Face of Economic and Psychological War  -  by Eric Draitser

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Venezuelas-Elections-Courage-in...

"We all came to the Bolivarian Republic to bear witness to the all-important elections scheduled to take place Sunday, as well as the violence and destabilization that is likely to follow if the US-backed opposition loses. It is important not to overlook the very real economic war being waged by the US and its allies in Venezuela and throughout Latin America..."

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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as well as the violence and destabilization that is likely to follow if the US-backed opposition loses.

I'm just going to snag that in the off chance that there's any violence or destabilization caused by anything else.

NDPP

Letter From Caracas: Spirit Of Anti Neo-Liberal 'Chavismo' Alive and Well!  -  by Caleb Maupin

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/324899-caracas-chavez-bolivian-process/

"Western media reports surrounding the Dec 6 vote in Venezuela have focused on an alleged decrease in enthusiasm for the project of 21st century socialism, started by President Hugo Chavez and continued by his successor Nicolas Maduro.

While the drop in oil prices, increased US sanctions and other hardships may have hampered the enthusiasm of some Venezuelans, there remains a large group of Venezuealans who are absolutely dedicated to continuing the Bolivarian Process.

In the center of Caracas, near the presidential palace, a district referred to as the 'January 23rd Neighborhood' is home to over 100,000 people. The low-income working class neighborhood played a key role in forcing out the US-backed military dictatorship many decades ago. Today the area is a stronghold of chavismo.

On Dec 5th, the day before the National Assembly elections, I visited two different sectors in this strongly pro-Bolivarian neighborhood, and talked to the residents about why they support the current government and the ruling 'Patriotic Pole' of parties aligned with it.

I didn't find brainwashed drones repeating totalitarian slogans. Instead I found educated, well informed and opinionated people who have seen their lives drastically improved over the last 15 years..."

 

Polls Open in Venezuela National Assembly Elections: LIVE UPDATES

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Live-Updates-Venezuelas-National-A...

"Latest information and tweets from Venezuela on a crucial day..."

NDPP

Venezuela's President Accepts Assembly Loss, Calls For Peace

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Venezuelas-President-Accepts-Assem...

"We have lost a battle today but the fight for a new socialism has barely begun...We see this as a slap to wake us up to act,' said Maduro..."

ygtbk

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-07/venezuela-opposition-wins-majority-of-congress-as-count-goes-on

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Venezuela’s economy is expected to contract 10 percent this year by the International Monetary Fund, while economists polled by Bloomberg see inflation of about 124 percent.

“The news is pretty positive,” said Paul McNamara, who oversees $4.5 billion in emerging-market bonds as a money manager at GAM UK Ltd. in London. “The current government is doing more or less everything wrong at the moment in terms of maintaining a viable economy. So the hope is that the new Congress will be able to get them to do a bit better."

RDP

kjl

Red Winnipeg

Instead of "Hugo Chavez, RIP" it may be more appropriate to say "Venezuela, RIP"

The economy is in utter shambles.  Why, oh why, did Chavez not do something productive with those oil riches when oil was $140 a barrel?  All he did was buy votes.  Now that the price of oil has collapsed, there is NOTHING remaining of the economy.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Why, oh why, did Chavez not do something productive with those oil riches when oil was $140 a barrel?  All he did was buy votes.

Well, if a particular government is the first government since forever to put a roof over your head, it shouldn't be surprising if you end up supporting that government.  You can call it "buying votes" if you wish, but it's a refreshing change from how votes are usually bought.

And certainly "putting some aside for a rainy day" wouldn't have been a bad idea, but I think the problems go a bit deeper than just lack of savings in reserve.

Spending some of those oil dollars on diversification might have helped, particularly in whatever ways might break dependence on imported goods.

But IMHO, they might also have wanted to take a closer look at some of their other policies. 

  • A bizarre, three-tier exchange rate that absolutely invites corruption, and demands a black market for access to hard currency. 
  • Subsidization of gasoline to the point of pennies per gallon, promoting smuggling that effectively subsidizes neighbouring countries.
  • Nationalization of businesses as "punishment" for uppity owners, or as a show of strength, rather than because the government can manage those businesses better than (or at least as well as) their former bourgeois owners.
  • A persistent focus on "shadowy enemies" or political opponents as the source of all problems (including the above, but also corruption, violence, crime, etc.)

Maybe this new government will, as you suggest, run Venezuela into the ground, or systematically undo the good that Chavez (and to a much lesser degree, Maduro) acheived.  But at the same time, did it really look like anything was changing for the better in Venezuela prior to the election?  Perhaps this switcheroo might convince PSUV to spend less time pointing fingers and saluting a dead man, and more time trying to actually make things better for Venezuelans.

 

Red Winnipeg

How soon until the socialist experiment collapses into a bloody civil war?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I don't know if people's anger is really directed at each other so much as at the government -- which now includes MUD.

I'd read some promising reports suggesting that things are finally bad enough that the government is considering some cooperation, to prevent a total collapse, but the Venezelan Supreme Court just obediently granted Maduro some more "emergency" powers of decree, so I guess we'll have to see if he uses them to seek real solutions or just keeps on doing the things that brought Venezuela to where they're at now.

One recent "fix" has been to order massive shipments of new banknotes, so don't look for inflation to stop climbing any time soon, unless they plan to destroy old notes on at least a one-for-one basis.  Apparently, they're still just 100 Bolivar notes, too, so Venezuelans still need stacks of currency for simple purchases.  Had they printed, say, 10,000 Bolivar notes, they'd only need 1% of that shipment to equal the same amount of currency, and perhaps more to the point a Venezuelan could purchase something with one banknote instead of fifty.

Red Winnipeg

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I don't know if people's anger is really directed at each other so much as at the government -- which now includes MUD.

I hope you're right.

And to think that, for years, people pointed to Venezuela under Chavez as the grand exemplar of socialism.

RDP

The Grand Finale (like so many other grande finales).  Where are the Chavez lovers now?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36294939

Unionist

RDP wrote:

Where are the Chavez lovers now?

According to your BBC article... in Caracas.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Where are the Chavez lovers now?

There's still all kinds of them.  Maduro lovers, not so much.

RDP

Maduro's lovers are still getting a little bit of other people's money.  This should be running out right about now.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

RDP wrote:

Maduro's lovers are still getting a little bit of other people's money.  This should be running out right about now.

I'm sure Margaret Thatcher is smiling up in WASP heaven.

RDP

Why would she be smiling?  She walked Britain back from the brink.

 

Speaking of brink...http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/world/americas/dying-infants-and-no-me...

The next step is mass graves.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

RDP wrote:

Why would she be smiling?

She would be smiling because she was the one who coined the phrase that you used, about socialists eventually running out of other people's money. And you were alleging that her dictum has been proven correct once again in Venezuela. Thus, she smiles down benevolently from honky heaven.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Seems that Venezuela has two pretty big problems right now.

1.  A shortage of hard currency.  They need this for anything that must be imported, whether it's medicine for the sick, or barley to make beer.  Unless the government coughs up the necessary foreign exchange then there's not much doctors or brewers can do.

2.  A shortage of electrical power.  It's great (and "green") that Venezuela gets so much of its power from hydroelectric, but with a huge drought and few backup systems, things like rolling blackouts are the only option.

FWIW, a shortage of "other people's money" isn't a factor in anything.

RDP

"FWIW, a shortage of "other people's money" isn't a factor in anything."

Disagree.  If you don't produce something of value you will have no money of your own.  If you have no money of your own, you can only use other people's money.  Eventually, the other people stop giving you money or stop producing things of value because too much of the fruits of their labour gets taken.

The reason they have no hard currency is because producers have no incentive to produce and therefore they have nothing that they can trade for hard currency.

NDPP

Venezuela, South America and the Return of the Oligarchs 

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/343201-venezuela-south-america-oligarchs/

"That the South American subcontinent is in the throes of an assault by conservative and reactionary political forces, after a period in which leftist ideas were predominant, is now beyond dispute..."

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

RDP wrote:

The reason they have no hard currency is because producers have no incentive to produce and therefore they have nothing that they can trade for hard currency.

It's called a capital strike. It is the favourite action of oligarchies everywhere when faced with democratically elected left wing governments. They consider it short term pain for long term control.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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The reason they have no hard currency is because producers have no incentive to produce and therefore they have nothing that they can trade for hard currency.

Well, not exactly.

Some goods -- those that are price controlled -- may be unpopular to produce (and sell for less than you spent making them) but those are almost exclusively domestic products that would not be sold for hard currency.

Venezuela has long had pretty much one thing that it trades for hard currency, and it's still got more of it than any other country, but it's not trading so high these days.

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It's called a capital strike. It is the favourite action of oligarchies everywhere when faced with democratically elected left wing governments.

Or, in this case, it's called "lack of materials".

Polar brewery is apparently stopping production of beer, claiming that without hard currency they can't import the necessary barley and hops.

I'd be fine with the government showing the whole world that barley and hops are plentiful in Venezuela, and that Polar is just lying about this to overthrow them.  But otherwise, there are just too many reports of shortages of just about everything but gasoline for me to start with the assumption that lack of necessary materials isn't the actual problem.

RDP

Somewhat disagree.  There are many oil producing nations that rely heavily on oil revenue.  They face the same pricing pressure as does Venezuela.  They aren't lining up for hours for a role of toilet paper (Saudi Arabia is doing just fine). The collapse in the price of oil of course hurts but does not come close to explaining the economic implosion that is occuring in Venezuela.  Venezuela used to have prosperous non-oil industries.  I think they were expropriated (taken without compensation (after the company invests a ton of money)).

From Wikipedia "From the 1950s to the early 1980s the Venezuelan economy was the strongest and most prosperous in South America. The continuous growth during that period attracted many immigrants."   Found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Venezuela

I wonder how many immigrants are lining up today to get into this socialist paradise?

 

 

 

 

 

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