Archive for February 5th, 2007

A picture is worth 10,000 words #26: Population, oil prices, oil income and oil income per capita

February 5, 2007

First of all, let me clarify, these figures are not exact, but they tell the story I wanted to tell. To build these figures, I used population data from here and from INE. I found WTI oil prices going back a while. I could not find Venezuelan data going back to 1970, but I know it was about 4.5 million barrels a day then, so I extrapolated that down to 2006 with 3 million barrels, even if I don’t believe production is that high. Similarly, I adjusted WTI to the Venezuelan oil basket using 10% up to 1999 and then 15%. So, it is all approximate, but as you will see the results do not depend on the details.

On the plot above on the left I show WTI average oil prices since 1970, together with the Venezuelan population. The red line is oil price with the left scale, the blue line is the population in millions, which starts around ten million in 1970 and is around 26 million today.

The plot on the right shows total oil income per year (red line, left scale in billions), while the blue line, right scale shows oil income per person each year.

The first thing to notice is that oil income was never as high as it was last year. Moreover, the last three or four years have been the highest accumulated income in history. However, because of the increased population, oil income per capita is not at a peak. Note from the graph that from 1984 to 1998, income was down significantly, total or per capita, which explains why things went down so fast in Venezuela, during those 14 years. However, at the same time, during the last six years, things have been pretty good, but nevertheless things have not improved for the people as much as they should have.

More importantly, note the volatility of the Venezuelan economy with swings from $10 billion to $60 billion in total oil income per year from bottom to top. A factor of six up or down, can swing your popularity mighty fast!

When Popi discovered Chavez or how bizarre can this get?

February 5, 2007

I have wondered whether to tell this story or not. I originally thought I would wait for the transcript of the Alo President from a weak ago to come on line, but so many plans for posts just die into the oblivion of being too busy or something more important happening.

I could have titled this post: “When Popi the clown discovered Chavez”. You see, Popi the Clown is an almost mythical figure to many Venezuelans, not too old, not too young. He was the clown that entertained generations of Venezuelans. As I said, almost mythical.

Well, on January 27th. when Chavez was giving his Sunday Alo Presidente, he was talking about how much he liked to talk and entertain and then he told us how Popi had discovered him. It went something like within the bounds of my limited memory, the order may be wrong, but the jist is the same ( I was told today he has mentioned this other times):

“I was at the Military Academy, I may have been a Captain then, one day I was told to greet Popi and organize his visit, all the female Popi’s were dancing an entertaining and then they talked to me on camera and they liked it so much that they showed it on National TV. And I became famous. All the kids on my barrio would tell me: “you are the one that goes around with Popi” and I liked that, television, the media, I became a radio announcer”

I am not kidding. He said that. But you have to wonder, where is the video? Second, what barrio is he talking about? Once he was a Captain, he had no “barrio”, he lived at the military headquarters and Barinas was not a place he visited too frequently.

Thus, Popi may have discovered Hugo Chavez, I guess it takes on to know one.