Venezuela’s Vital Signs by Paul Esqueda

October 11, 2015

I have been under the weather for a week now and the two articles I have been plotting in my mind have not been able to get completed. But fortunately, my good friend Paul Esqueda, who has written here before, sent me the article below, which is timely and something I was worrying about, since about ten days ago Venezuela’s Minister of Finance “promised” investors in New York to  publish some of the missing data. But to this day, we are all still waiting, including Paul:


The vital economic signs of the country constitute key information in fundamental decision making by all individuals and organizations operating or planning to operate in Venezuela. The Venezuelan Central Bank has not published the main economic indicators of the country in the last nine months, particularly inflation (Consumer Price Index) and gross domestic product (GDP). This is in total contradiction with what is stated in the by-laws of the bank in its Article 31, which is a national act of Congress. It clearly states that “The Central Bank of Venezuela will be guided by principles of transparency. In this regard, without prejudice to their institutional responsibilities, the Central Bank will keep informed in a timely and reliable manner the National Executive and other State agencies, public and private, national and foreign and the public in general on the implementation of their policies, decisions and resolutions of the Board, reports, publications, research and statistics to have the best information on the evolution of the Venezuelan economy, without compromising the confidentiality rules as appropriate in accordance with the Constitution. In fulfilling the mandate above, the Central Bank of Venezuela will perform regular monetary policy meetings and publish the minutes of such meetings through the means which it deems appropriate, including use of the most advanced computing services.”

What are Venezuela’s official vital economic signs? If you are entering the workforce or retired or considering retirement, is your projected income sustainable and sufficient in the long term for a decent living? How are companies currently operating in Venezuela planning their operations without reliable information? Are there any potential investors interested in Venezuela in such state of affairs? These questions and many others would have to rely on second hand sources (IMF, IADB, Dolar Today, and the Devil’s Excrement among others) to find answers for the moment. The current Venezuelan Government has chosen to let uncertainty reign by providing no information based on the fact that there is a state of “economic war” There is no formal official declaration of war against any specific entity so that excuse just adds to the uncertainty and to the overall country risk.

The vital signs of a person’s health are typically body temperature, pulse, blood test results, ability to breath and move about. When an individual is found outside the normal parameters in all the risk factors, the medical doctor can make informed decision about next steps to improve the person’s health. An extreme situation may require putting the patient in the extreme care unit on a respirator with all his/her vital signs being monitored 24 hours a day. The vital sign are critical to determine whether to continue life depending on the prognosis. What is the state of the Venezuelan economy’s health? What is the general perception of the credit rating experts? The rating of Venezuela ranges from CCC and Caa3 (S&P, Moodys and Fitch) as of 19/11/2015 which qualifies the economy as “extremely speculative.” Is Venezuela in a nonresponsive state by not releasing the main economic indicators? When a patient is in a nonresponsive state, he/she has no knowledge but those around him/her do know. Is the average Venezuelan conscious of the gravity of the situation? Are lenders pulling the plug on Venezuela? Where is the transparency declared in law of the Venezuelan Central Bank? Is it a crime to mismanage the economic future of all Venezuelans with evident violations of the law?  Undoubtedly history will pass the final judgment.

13 Responses to “Venezuela’s Vital Signs by Paul Esqueda”

  1. Odette Says:

    To Mr Tony TK Yam:.. Singapore may be willing and able, but, China already purchased Venezuela … everyone owns a piece of VE except the Venezuelans .. so much for ” sovereignty “.

  2. Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

    Vitals signs: Massive Corruption Cancer has metastasized, invading all levels of society, all fabrics of life. Massive Ignorance and horrific under-education considered main culprits. MUDcrap Chavista-light is next.

    Prognosis: At least 3 decades of accelerated deaths and further decay, unless some authoritarian, benevolent, constructive Regime takes over.

    The people of Singapore remain at your service, if you are ever ready for the necessary tough, tough measures.

  3. IslandCanuck Says:

    Capriles recently announced that the inflation rate for September was 16+% and 170% or something since January.

    I think those numbers are VERY conservative. In reality if you take out the controlled items which are virtually unavailable and replace them with bachaqueo prices, which is the reality, then we are looking at well over 200% this year so far.

    Now comes a major problem for the government.

    With the election approaching they are probably planning a salary increase. I see this as a no win situation for them. In order to be generally accepted by the pueblo it would have to be at least 100% which is no where close to being enough. BUT…they can’t admit that they have failed so badly as to need such a huge increase and, frankly, the way things are they can’t afford it.
    If they give a standard increase of say 30% they will get more bad reaction then they can handle. Maybe they’ll just cross their fingers and do nothing.

    I honestly don’t think that they will proceed with the election.
    They have too much to lose.

    Also wtf is up with Rosales supposedly returning on the 15th?
    This smells really bad.
    Does he think that things are so bad that he can pull a Leopoldo Lopez and spend a few months in jail & then emerge as the next president?
    Don’t trust him!

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      Excellent point. Everything in Venezuela is being run on auto pilot. No one making decisions. Free gas. Foreign reserves dropping like a rock. Shrug of shoulders. The IMF in Peru say they’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone standing around in track suits waving the flag. Jaw-dropping stupidity. Although we may disagree, I still think there will be an election. I just don’t see how they can avoid it.

    • IslandCanuck Says:

      My view is that if they know they will lose they will create some sort of false situation where the conditions won’t be conducive to an election.

      As they control all judicial power who would stop them.
      They didn’t like the inflation numbers so they just stopped publishing them even though the law states that they must.

  4. Tomas Beard Says:

    With $1.00 going for 850 Bolivars on the Black Market and oil at $45.00 a barrel, no toilette paper, rice or many other basic necessities unavailable, it is obvious that what used to be a 1st world country has become a 3rd world country.
    What a shame, when are the Chavistas going to realize they have been screwed and take back their country?

    • TV Says:

      Admitting you’ve been wrong about something is one of the hardest things to do. Most people can’t manage it. Certainly zero remaining Chavistas manage it.
      The elections will be, well, interesting. A strategic defeat would be Chavista best bet at holding on to the country for a few more years, but I doubt they’re smart enough to risk or capitalize on it.

      • Dean A Nash Says:

        Right you are, which is why the oppo has to offer a compelling alternative, to both Chavismo AND to what it has done in the past. Only choosing something better rationally works. Granted that life was arguably better in ’97 than today (at least everyone had TP), but politically speaking, from the poor’s perspective, it wasn’t.

        The best result for Venezuela’s long-term development is a complete collapse. The country is still years away from such a tragedy. (It can still be magnitude’s worse.)

        • Ronaldo Says:

          Venezuela is in the toilet desperately reaching up to pull the handle. The unbelievable magnitude of the corruption and mismanagement will only increase. Accountability and law enforcement are the only way to stop the decline. Chavistas ignore laws and are accountable to no one.

          In all honesty, I feel that only brave leaders in the military will be able to force Chavistas out of power. The upcoming election will surely be won by the opposition, but King for Life Maduro will ignore it. International intervention will only be words.

    • Larry Says:

      Tomas, Venezuela has not been a first world country since 1959 if it ever was. Bananazuela is and has always been a third world country AFAIK. Today it’s a rogue regime and an outlier on the world stage. It’s a Cuban colony run by the Castro non-legitimate actors such as Cucuta-born Maduro (who was trained in Cuba) or the U.S. born Cuban intelligence officer Eva Golinger who does not have an ounce of Venezuelan DNA in her.

  5. Ira Says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that silence here speaks much louder than words.

    I understand the nature of this article, but it’s totally rhetorical, because everyone knows what’s going on. And you’re not ever going to hear it from official Chavista data anyway:

    The economy is fucked up, fucked up to historic proportions.

    And we’re supposed to expect that the administration will publicly admit it?

  6. captainccs Says:

    Venezuela met its demise in the late 20th century. What you are writing about is a new country with a new name, a new flag, a new seal, a new constitution but without sovereignty. It’s a Cuban colony with no law, no justice, no economy, no independence, no human rights, and no toilette paper.

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