¡Véngase!

When did freedom die?

Last night, Nicolás Maduro announced that all purchases at every supermarket, convenience store, and mom-and-pop abasto would have to be verified through a fingerprint scanner in order to prevent people from purchasing too much – an electronic rationing card. The cadification of the Venezuelan economy is complete. Listen, about ten years ago, some distant relatives from Venezuela…

SEVEN+BLIND+MICE-_A4_BA

The stillborn adjustment?

One of my girls’ favorite bedtime stories is “Seven Blind Mice,” by Ed Young. The book tells the story of seven blind mice who meet with an elephant, only they don’t know what it is. Each one of them inspects a different part of the elephant, and they always make a mistake when saying what the…

You know what happens to people we send to Cuba, right?

Fifteen years is nothing

I found this El Universal interview with chavista heavyweight Alí Rodríguez particularly galling. Rodríguez seems to have let his guard down, and we appreciate that, but in the process he lays naked the vast intellectual wasteland that is chavismo. Basically, he says that chavismo needs to define how much the State should do, and what they…

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Notes on a common misconception about the gasoline subsidy [Updated]

Whoops. The gas subsidy still sucks, but this post was wrong. Explanation below.  Venezuelans have a hard time understanding the crazed extremes of mindless waste generated by our legendary gasoline subsidies. It’s not surprising: the policy is so multidimensionally insane, it’s hard to really take in all the different layers of destructiveness in one go.…

Zumaque

One hundred years of oil

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of commercial oil production in Venezuela. On July 31st 1914, the Zumaque I oil well in Mene Grande, Zulia, became the country’s first oil well. In its initial years, the 135-meter deep well produced 264 barrels of oil per day. Zumaque I has been an eyewitness to many of the country’s most…

PDVSA

PDVSA’s sad third place

Every year, AméricaEconomía releases a ranking of the 500 largest companies from Latin America. This year, 5 of the 10 biggest companies in the region are part of the oil/natural gas industry. The semi-public Brazilian multinational energy company, PETROBRAS, came at number 1. And the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, PEMEX, came at number 2. Venezuela’s…

I have no idea

The arbitrarily poor

Quico and I had a non-quibble a few days ago about poverty. I criticized poverty measures, and he beat me up about it. Truth is that I agree with him. Poverty is a very complex thing with many definitions: income, savings, choices, and even expenditure. People have tried to package it in a single indicator, but numbers end…

Oil Venezuela

The lost money in oil

Ramón Espinasa, former chief economist of PDVSA and currently a professor at Georgetown, published an outline of the oil industry fifteen years after Chávez was elected (here, in Spanish). I thought it contained interesting tidbits. For example: In 1998, each PDVSA employee was responsible for producing 83 barrels of oil per day on average. Today, it…

MaduroEnElAire

What passes for “pragmatism”

This blog has been trying to follow the ongoing debate about where economic policy is headed under Rafael Ramírez. Today, for example, we eagerly awaited a presidential address where – we hoped – new measures would be announced. We were fools. Nothing of substance was announced. All Maduro said was that every company that had gotten…