A very good clip from CNBC – Venezuela’s economy has been in free fall since the 2014 collapse of oil prices, which left the socialist country unable to maintain its subsidies and price controls. Oil revenue accounts for 95% of its total exports but with a 50% drop in the price of oil there was limited money in the economy to buy those necessary imports. However as pointed out in the video the problems started in 2003 when there was an oil workers strike which meant that the country stopped producing oil. Furthermore with a collapsing oil price and exchange rate against the US dollar the then president Hugo Chavez decided to fix the exchange rate at 1 Venezuelan bolívar = US$1.60. Another example of the resource course.
Below is an informative clip from Al Jazeera which looks at the worst performing economy in the world – Venezuela. With oil accounting for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings, plummeting world prices have severely hit the government’s revenue stream. GDP is forecast to contract 5.6% and inflation to hit 700% in 2016. The Economist has likened it to Zimbabwe and produced a graph showing the similar acceleration in inflation.
With 80% of all food items being imported and most of its agricultural land abandoned there are now major food shortages in the country – decrease in supply – cost-push inflation. As a consequence of this consumers are trying to stockpile goods as the prices increase – this shifts the demand curve to the right – demand-pull inflation.
Authorities are trying to clamp down on shoppers stockpiling goods by taking fingerprints before buying their ration of price-controlled goods. However the law of supply and demand is never far away as speculators use the black market to sell goods at a higher price as people becoming desperate for the essentials. Furthermore, producers can get around price controls by adding ingredients to staple food which therefore makes it unregulated – Venezuelan firms have added garlic to rice, called it “garlic rice”
Below is a very good video from the FT about how the fall in oil prices poses big problems for the Venezuela government already trying to cope with a shortage of basic goods. Some key points from the video:
* Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world
* 95% of Venezuela’s export revenue is from oil
* For every $1 fall in the oil price Venezuela loses almost $700m. A $20 drop in oil prices would result in a $14bn loss in gross revenues for the country.
* With falling oil revenue and therefore foreign currency the government has less money to buy imports. The reduction in imports includes: toilet paper, maize flour, sugar, powdered milk, medical supplies.
* People have been queuing for 2 to 3 hours for three weeks trying to get basic provisions. The further the oil price drops the longer the queues become.
* The Government have introduced mandatory finger printing in some supermarkets so people don’t try and hoard basic foodstuffs.
* The government, in trying to rally support, are slashing the prices of Chinese imported goods like fridges.
* At the heart of the problem are Venezuela’s price and currency controls
* Printing local currency (Bolivar) will keep widening the government deficit and fuel further inflation – see graph below.
* Oil exports aren’t enough to subsidise everything else