On the eight time to get a data point, Miguel gets all cocky and invites a buddy, the same guy that wrote the Wall Street Journal article and we went and had some pretty nice arepas. I had my usual, while Kejal had a caraotas and yellow cheese arepa, as he has become Venezolanized in his five years here. This one did not count, the same as the delicious mango juices that I had. We went for the data point on the arepas, but the conversation was so good, that it became an afterthought, it was just intriguing to find out how much the HAI went up.
Except it went down.
As I sat there trying to comprehend the Bs.389 number for my queso de mano arepa, I could not help but call the waiter and ask: What happened, how come prices have dropped?
I was, of course, expecting a tale of pressure, visiting agents or whatever, but instead, the apparently clueless waiter started going on a tale about how they now separate the VAT from the price and the 389.75 was without the VAT.
So he brings over a menu to prove it and it says my arepa con queso de mano is Bolivars 440 with VAT, except ther is no way that 389.75 plus VAT adds up to Bs. 440. But he claims it is that number. (It would have to be 391.1 and that was not the number in the receipt)
So, I have to use the menu number Bs. 440, a Bs. 30 drop from the last time. And even if the waiter seemed clueless, I have to think that something happened, but can’t confirm it.
And it makes little sense that it dropped, unless there was some pressure to drop prices, as I had visited the Mercado Libre de Chacao and found that cheeses, the delicious un-pasteurized Venezuelan white cheeses, went up sharply since my last visit. About 40% if I remember correctly.
But a data point is a data point and the first drop in the HAI occurs nine and a half months after it was started. This is a 6.3% drop in five weeks, a 166% rise in nine and a half months.
I had actually expected a 20% rise, but I have been wrong every single time about my expectations. I stick to the data and we now wait till the next number in one more month…
(The arepa was still delicious and only 59 cents and the last exchange rate of the unmentionable rate. But, of course, Venezuelans earn Bolivars, not dollars. This is very expensive for them.)