R&R: It Gets Worse

So I already blew one gasket over Reinhart and Rogoff’s Project Syndicate piece, and now the time has come to blow the other. Turns out Francisco Rodríguez over at Bank of America was just as suspicious as I was of their claims, but being a proper economist went back to their database to check. Turns…


Robert Serra’s safe was hidden behind a portrait of Chávez

How perfect a detail is that? Sandra Guerrero has lots more where that came from over in El Nacional – all of it, I’m afraid, anonymously sourced. Serra, it now appears, was killed during a robbery orchestrated by one of his bodyguards, a guy by the name of Edwin Torres, who he’d fought with weeks earlier. The assemblyman was beaten,…

Ceci n'est pas splitting hairs

Of Default and “Default”

Consider “default”. It’s a tricky one: both an ordinary English word and a term of art with a specific, legal definition in the field of finance. There’s a reason why this ordinary word is used to label that legal concept: the two meanings usually map onto each other reasonably well. But not always. Today, the debate about Venezuela’s shockingly mismanaged economy fell right into the space…


Ant-colored Polling

The September IVAD poll is on a level of awful that must be making the government think twice now. Consider: 70% of respondents have little or no confidence in Maduro’s ability to solve the nation’s problems. Better than 2-to-1 majorities think Leopoldo López is innocent. The government is losing the National Assembly generic ballot question by…


Las Matemáticas No Fallan

The sad part is that we’ll never really know what happened during the tense, eight-hour stand-off between the Investigative police and downtown “colectivos” today. We know five people, including colectivo leader José Miguel Odreman – were dead by the time it was all said and done, though the police is now claiming, incongruously, no “colectivos” were involved…


Accountability, pero al revés

The Venezuelan government insists on transparency in the use of scarce foreign currency…by private firms. Yesterday, the foreign exchange control administrative agency, Cencoex (which is why they’re calling CADIVI these days), announced draconian measures to “sanction” 17 private companies that have not sufficiently documented what they’re spending their dollars on. By shutting those companies out of preferential foreign…


Venezuelan Culture is Dead

In recognition of his daring, boundary-pushing performance art installation consisting of laying perfectly still inside a rectangular marble box for 19 months, the Venezuelan government has awarded the 2014 National Culture Prize to…Hugo Chávez. If you need a good weep, check out the video of the official announcement.