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Poverty Isn’t A Thing

Here’s a little secret development nerds know that muggles struggle with: poverty isn’t a thing. Those newspaper stories you see about rises and falls in “the poverty rate”? They boil the question down to a single summary statistic. A rate. At most two rates (“poverty” and “extreme poverty”). That gives the illusion that poverty is like the temperature outside…

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On the Uses of Phantasmagoric Profits

Willie Neuman has a really great piece in the New York Times today about the big hit various multinationals’ bottom lines are taken as they’re forced to revalue their Venezuela profits from the fantastical Bs.6.30:$ rate to more realistically devalued levels. A taste: Brink’s, the armored car company, could see about $400 million in revenue…

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A Telling Schism

Is it just me, or do you also have the sense that Maduro is looking at the brewing Rebelión de los Utópicos and grinning widely to himself? On the heels of Jorge Giordani’s purge-hissy-fit, fellow purged leftie academic/extremist Héctor Navarro takes to the pixels of Aporrea.org to get Giordani’s back. Navarro’s shocked – shocked – that no action…

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Ramón J. Velásquez (1916-2014)

Ramón J. Velásquez, eminence grise of Acción Democrática, has died in Caracas at the age of 97. It’s unfortunate that Velásquez will be remembered by most for his short, ill-starred stint as accidental president following the resignation of Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992-1993 or, alternatively - in the wake of the publication of Francisco Suniaga’s enormously…

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Strawmanslaughter

I was disappointed to see Miguel Angel Santos, normally so lucid, join the unhinged chorus of voices passionately arguing against a straw-man made to stand in for Francisco Rodríguez’s position on macro-economic adjustment. I can understand why a guy like Luis García Mora, who plainly doesn’t understand what adjustment is, could find comfort in arguing against…

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The End of the Monk (UPDATED)

Jorge Giordani, who as Planning Minister has done more damage to Venezuela’s economy than any single thing since Zumaque I, has been shunted out of the cabinet altogether for the first time in 15 years. Official titles don’t come close to capturing his influence. A Utopian socialist with a soft spot for Kim Il Sung, Giordani is the…

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¿Te acuerdas, Pepe?

Estimado Pepe, Discúlpame el tuteo, pero todos dicen que no te gustan los formalismos. Te escribo hoy porque hay cosas que están pasando en mi país, Venezuela, que no termino de creer que te sean indiferentes. Anoche, a las 3 y media de la mañana, una jueza-esbirra del régimen Venezolano decretó que Leopoldo López continuaría privado de…

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Missing the Point of Fonden

Long time readers know I have a special fascination with Fonden – the Chávez-created National Development Fund – and, as a corollary, with the Venezuelan press’s utter failure to explain it. It remains a subject of undying fascination for me: all these years later, even the newspaper reading elite – hell, the newspaper writing elite – doesn’t seem…

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The Ripping-The-BandAid-Off-Sloooooowly School of Devaluation

Today, International Air Travel was “switched to the SICAD II rate” – a wonderfully euphemistic way of saying the bolivar was aggressively devalued in the international air travel sector. In for-dummies terms, the cost of airline tickets for bolivar holders just went up about five-fold. And, just like that, one of the most cherished chavista…

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The Violence Epidemic in Two Charts

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations has a handy data visualization tool here on worldwide causes of death and disability. The Venezuela pages are somewhat startling. One key measure is Years of Life Lost: a statistical measure of the years of life a person would have been expected to live had they not died prematurely. In…

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Jaime Lusinchi, 1924-2014

Jaime Lusinchi, whose 1984 to 1989 presidency is remembered as possibly the least competent of the 1936-1999 period, died last night in Caracas. The last of the old-style Acción Democrática populist apparatchiks to run the country, Lusinchi’s ruinous term in office was marked by rampant corruption, a pig-headed refusal to countenance evidently needed reforms, the accumulation of…

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Adjustment or collapse? The case for collapse

As the debate about whether Venezuela is facing macroeconomic adjustment or macroeconomic collapse rages on, some traders* at giant Japanese investment bank Nomura make the case for collapse about as succinctly as is possible: “Let us start with the one-liner of our trip last week: we came back more concerned about Venezuela. It is becoming clear that Sicad II will…