A Short Note On My Hyperinflated Arepa Index

December 7, 2014


Two weeks ago, as I left Caracas on Nov. 22nd. to be precise, I wrote about the cost of a breakfast which I found expensive for Venezuelans, which included cheese arepas. As I returned to Caracas two short weeks later, I went to have a single cheese arepa at the same place. Imagine my surprise when I found that the Bs. 120 cheese arepa of fifteen days ago, now costs Bs. 156.

That is a 30% increase in two weeks. A year ago I would eat two for Bs. 120.

Thus, I will keep reporting on the hyperinflated arepa in the future.

BTW, they are still delicious…


38 Responses to “A Short Note On My Hyperinflated Arepa Index”

  1. Alejo Says:

    Just found this link in the FT


    Bolivia is now growing, public debt is under 15% of GDP and it also boasts low inflation. Business is sprouting everywhere (seriously, look at the video) without fear.

    It is not necessary to be stupid to be chavista. We just got the worse kind of the group (Ecuador is also doing very well, it appears).

    It is not necessary to implement ruinous policies to keep people happy, it appears. Venezuela’s government chose to do so, but it wasn’t mandatory.

    Ecuador is attracting Spanish and South American researchers with high salaries (!). It is not necessary to destroy IVIC, to be a socialist.

    The problem is not socialism, anti-americanism, even chavism. The problem, it seems, is Venezuela itself.

    • Blightey. Says:

      Political labels such as socialist are irrelevant or at best comparative. What is a socialist country? The UK is far more socialist than Venezuela; i.e. free health care, universal benefits etc… However, no one would dream of labelling the UK a socialist country.

      If the problem itself were Venezuela, or Venezuelans, then it could be fixed with education. Unfortunately, as pointed out previously in this blog, the problem is that everybody takes advantage of the cheap petrol, exchange rates etc… and nobody is prepared to take 5 steps back to take one step forward.

  2. nuestravenezuela Says:

    The best way to compare cost-of-living for the masses must include wages and cost of food. In Venezuela, lunch at a popular restaurant costs 8 hours of labor at minimum wage. In South Florida it costs half an hour of labor at minimum wage Of course, on should take into account that Venezuela lunches are heartier than in the U.S.
    This difference would probably be less for teh cost of cooked-at-home meals.
    By the way, another advantage of Ponche Crema is that it needs no refrigeration. It can sit in the bottle for a year without spoiling. It is made from the best rum in the world, that from Venezuela.

  3. Would it be possible to prepare an “inflation of the popular class” index? This could include the 10 basic staples people eat which can be found standing in line for up to four hours, the price of a metro ticket, a beer, a cheap cell phone, a pair of cholas, a hair brush, a lightbulb, and a motorcycle battery?

    I’m suggesting something like this, if it’s practical, to get a sense for the way inflation is impacting the chavista core. I know the middle class is suffering, but that’s somewhat irrelevant. The middle class will either leave, or be poor. Some of you will plug in and be one of the enchufaos. And I imagine some will land in Uribana.

    But the regime will keep up with its current practices until it runs the country like a cuban colony, or it busts. And the only way it’ll go bust is if the core Chavistas feel things are unbearable. So the proposed index will give you a better idea of what’s going on.

    • Roger Says:

      I would like to see that too. Of course one needs to get the Mercal prices of the stuff that they can keep in stock. For what they don’t I guess everybody pays black market? I have always thought arepas in Caracas overpriced. I wonder what they sell for at a road stand outside Caracas? The best I ever had were made from scratch and cooked on a wood grill! My inflation index was the price of a Polar on the road. Trip One, 37 old Bs. a can at 58:1. Last trip almost 200 at about 400:1 !

  4. Yuzhou Lin Says:

    Bon appetit! Amigo

  5. Ira Says:

    Miguel, where the hell can I get cheese here for my wife that’s like Queso Blanco in VZ? What should I be looking for, and I’ll shlep a few miles if I have to.

    (It’s not for me to eat, it’s for her, because when she’s eating she talks less.)

    As it is, I’m getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to Don Pan in Sunrise in a few weeks for pan de jamon and hallacas.

  6. Ira Says:

    Your inflation figures might need some adjustment:

    Did you actually weigh your arepas each time to see if they contain the same amount of harina pan and cheese, in whatever proportions? They might be shorting you as time goes on.

    I think it’s worth the risk for you to fly into Caracas next time with a small scale. I’m sure the authorities will believe that you’re using it to weigh arepas for journalistic purposes, and not DRUGS.

    (You know, sometimes I make MYSELF laugh!)

    • Alexis Says:

      That’s a very good point.

      I haven’t set foot in Venezuela for an year, but a friend tells me they now have to order two plates at some restaurants to feel reasonably satiated!

  7. Kenneth Price Says:

    We are seeing the (not so slow) collapse of a corrupt government. Maduro can decree anything but economic reality, which runs on its own rules, and governments ignore those rules at their own risk. I can see hyperinflation on the near horizon.

    • N Smith Says:

      Venezuela has been in hyperinflation since November 2009 when your 3 year cumulative inflation reached 100% for the first time. PricewaterhouseCoopers published a report about in December 2009. So, Venezuela has been in hyperinflation for the last 5 years already.

  8. VJ Says:

    The “arepa con queso” is the easiest to prepare and therefore the most profitable to sell. If you try to calculate the “arepa index” for the arepa de pernil or the reina pepeada, the index skyrockets !!!.

  9. Island Canuck Says:

    What occurred in November with prices is shocking.
    One analyst suggested that the inflacion rate just for November was 50% based on a number of factors including the increase in the black market rate.
    We’ll never eally know as the government has stuck it’s head in the sand & is not reporting inflation numbers – now almost 3 months behind.

    My own list of 64 products & services has increased 115% since Jan. 2014 however it includes 6 items that are unavailable & therefore show no increase in price from 2013.

    My numbers were given a boost this week by the increase in olive oil which has been missing from the shelves for months. In January 2014 1 litre cost Bs.92. On Friday Sigo Sambil had 500 ml of Gallo olive oil at Bs1.667 which is Bs.3.334 a litre.

    One has to think that there is a billing scam going on here as to justify them selling at this price. Multiple levels of supply all marking up or false invoices from suppliers outside to justify the price. You can be sure this product came into the country at least at Sicad 2 exchange rates.That would make a litre cost almost US$67.

    I don’t know where this is all going to end but for businesses trying to set prices it’s a nightmare. In order to survive you have to raise prices but the nazi “precios justos” police are just waiting to jump on you. There is no reality anymore.

    Another observation – when the black market exploded over the last few weeks people saw an ineviotable increase in prices & have stripped the shelves again of any imported item especially electronics.

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