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More tragic news from the frontline of Venezuela’s crime scene: the murder in front of their five year-old daughter of Mónica Spear, a former beauty queen and soap opera star, and her British-born ex-husband at the hands of a gang of armed robbers this week.

It is doubtful that the assailants had much on their mind beyond armed robbery – which they knew could end in murder, an outcome not unusual in a Venezuela ravaged by violence. In that sense, the deaths are just more statistics in a country with one of highest murder rates in the world, up there with Honduras, El Salvador, Ivory Coast and Jamaica. Continue reading »

The New Year has come but the same uncertainty as last year is still looming over Venezuela. Particularly, the genuine currency devaluation that many economists agree could correct the country’s deep economic distortions and narrow the budget gap is, so far, nowhere to be seen. Continue reading »

Venezuela used to be a telenovelas superpower. Soap operas such as Abigail, Cristal and others were hits all over Latin America back in the 1980s and 1990s. The industry lost some of its shine in the past decade, and a nascent film industry gave birth in recent times to epic movies about South American liberators.

Now, determined to ramp up its production industry, the Venezuelan government is seeking advice from no other than the world’s film superpower: Bollywood. Continue reading »

By Francisco Toro

As far as anyone can tell, Venezuela is on track for twin fiscal and inflationary crises of unprecedented proportions, as the government monetises debt at breakneck speed, exacerbating already deep monetary imbalances. The trouble is that, in Venezuela, “as far as anyone can tell” isn’t very far at all: working in an extraordinarily data-poor setting means forecasting in the dark.

Nearly every data-stream an analyst would need to make a serious forecast is either artlessly manipulated or just not published. The challenges this creates are not always fully appreciated. So let’s start with a brief survey of what we don’t know. Continue reading »

With Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, engaged in an “economic offensive” against what he calls “capitalist parasites”, it may come as a surprise to hear that Banesco, the country’s biggest private-sector bank, has seen off some muscular competition to take control of Spain’s nationalised NCG Banco in a €1bn deal.

An encouraging sign of the vigour of Venezuela’s banking sector, perhaps? Or evidence that Venezuelan banks must hunt overseas for healthy operating environments? Continue reading »

Many have been saying it is about time Venezuela devalued and loosened a strict exchange rate regime that has been in place for a decade.

In the meantime, the government appears to be making some moves amid a shortage of greenbacks by broadening the secondary currency auction system, known as Sicad.  Continue reading »

By Mark Weisbrot of CEPR

Felipe Pérez Martí criticises me on beyondbrics for my article in the Guardian on Venezuela’s economy, for claiming that “the Venezuelan economy is not headed for collapse,” and for a number of things that I did not say (see below).

My difference with Felipe, as with those who have incorrectly predicted an economic collapse in Venezuela for nearly 14 years now, is that I think that the most urgent problems can be fixed with a change in the exchange rate regime. Continue reading »

Amid rampant inflation, widespread shortages, a yawning fiscal deficit, a tightening grip on the private sector and dwindling foreign cash reserves, many are worried about Venezuela’s economy.

That includes Standard & Poor’s, which on Friday cut the rating of the oil-rich country one notch, to B- from B, with a negative outlook. Continue reading »

Thanks to generous subsidies and enormous oil reserves, Venezuela has the cheapest petrol in the world. You can pay for a full tank with the loose change you get from buying an arepa – flatbread made of maize flour, the national staple dish.

Is this about to change? Continue reading »

By Felipe Pérez Martí

In a recent article published in The Guardian, American economist Mark Weisbrot argues that concerns expressed by economists about the condition of the Venezuelan economy are unfounded. He claims that the Venezuelan economy is not headed for collapse, and describes those who say this is so as “Venezuela haters” allied to the opposition.

I served under President Hugo Chávez as Minister of Planning and Head of the Economics Cabinet between 2002 and 2003. I deeply believe in the ideals of the Bolivarian Revolution of creating a just, egalitarian and democratic society in Venezuela, and in Chávez’s commitment to turn these ideals into reality. Continue reading »

Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan president, has pledged to continue his “economic offensive” against private business after the victory of his ruling PSUV in Sunday’s local elections strengthened his hand.

But despite his rhetoric, analysts said the result could give him enough political muscle to undertake less populist measures such as a devaluation.

 Continue reading »

President Nicolás Maduro is a fraud, his government is incompetent and corrupt, most ministers should be sacked, the ruling Socialist Party’s ideological discourse is sterile, the national “Bolivarian” project is on a suicide path, and there is a growing risk of a coup from within the administration.

But don’t believe the FT on any of this. These are the words of Heinz Dieterich, a Marxist professor and former mentor of Hugo Chávez, writing in the leftist website Aporrea. Having cleared our throats before Sunday’s municipal elections, what actually is at stake at the vote — in concrete terms? Continue reading »

As beyondbrics was landing on Monday evening, Venezuela’s capital gave it a warm welcome: a massive blackout. A big chunk of the country was without power, including much of Caracas.

Roving the streets of one of the world’s most dangerous cities in complete darkness was quite an experience – even for your correspondent’s seasoned driver, desperately calling family and friends to check if they were doing fine. Continue reading »

Over the weekend Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, announced further measures to reinforce his “economic offensive” against “capitalist parasites”. At the same time, your correspondent was on his way to cross the border from Colombia into Venezuela – overland, listening to loud vallenato and merengue in a rusted 1984 Chevrolet Caprice.

And while waiting hours on end to get his passport stamped in the sweltering heat of Paraguachón, he witnessed one of the unwanted consequences of the president’s war on free enterprise. Continue reading »

Rumours have been circulating for a while that capitalist bankers may be cooking up ways of helping cash-strapped, socialist Venezuela. Now details are emerging of how the Bolivarian Revolution is paying generous fees to get its hands on hard currency, without actually running up any new debt, or running down its reportedly-depleted foreign exchange reserves. Continue reading »