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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…

#DondeEstánLosReales

An expanded version of that Reuters story just came out in Spanish, with extra juicy detail. Here’s a fun one: La fábrica de fertilizantes en Puerto Nutrias, un pequeño pueblo de los llanos venezolanos, ha pasado tanto tiempo paralizada que los lugareños debieron luchar contra la maleza para hallar la piedra fundacional que puso Chávez…

Into Fonden’s Heart of Darkness

Rushing in where angels fear to tread, Reuters today publishes an in-depth special report on Fonden, the off-budget, off-the-record, off-its-rocker spending fund at the heart of the chavista accountability black hole. It’s an amazing read. The report is explicit on the extravagant opacity that marks the fund’s operations, underlining features that, in my experience, strain…

Petrocaudillism, Churrigueresque Edition

So, our old friend Fonden – executive organ of Hankypankistan – has gone ahead and started issuing its own bonds! My first thought was, “great! if you ask people to lend you money, you have to tell them where your money comes from and where it goes! They’ll have to put out a prospectus…this means…

Fonden’s Accounting is all Greek to Me

Maybe it’s only because I’m a Fonden fanatic, but I really think Francisco Rodríguez’s new research note (link now corrected) for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch should shoot to the top of any self-respecting Venezuela wonk’s reading list. So go ahead and read it now. Rodríguez and his team have embarked on a meticulous bureaucratic archaeology of the Finance…

Why Fonden accounting is never going to add up…

Deep in his comment section, the Satanic Bowel Movement turns up the smoking gun in the case for thinking Fonden’s books will never ever make sense  to an outside auditor: this line item for 60 million “dollars” to wind up the old INAM (National Minors’ Institute). Why the scare quotes? Because, even though Fonden was supposed…

Where does Fonden money go?

So now that we have those Fonden disclosure documents, it’s time to jump into the minutiae. Of course, we only have detailed 5-year disclosures for $40 billion out of the $69 billion Fonden has apparently assigned, but beggars can’t be choosers, so… The first thing that jumps out at you is that by far the…

Fonden isn’t just “Big”, it’s this big.

Perhaps the most important aspect of The Fonden Papers doesn’t have to do with the $29 billion tabulation screw-up. Indeed, innocent explanations might account for that. Perhaps the big deal instead has to do with simply getting, for the first time, a sense of Fonden’s scale, of its weight in the Venezuelan government’s overall fiscal…

How exactly do you misplace $29,342,391,393.66?

This isn’t a massive, government-shaking scandal. But it should be. That’s right, it’s the full, scanned version of the Fonden report we promised you two weeks ago: the one sent by Finance Minister Jorge Giordani, in response to a parliamentary question from UNT Assemblyman Carlos Ramos, which he leaked to our very own Miguel Octavio,…

9,621,334,845.49 vs. 314

Nine billion Six-hundred and twenty-one million Three hundred and thirty four thousand Eight-hundred and forty five dollars and forty-nine cents. That, according to new revelations from Mérida National Assembly member Carlos Ramos, is how many US dollars Fonden spent last year. Off budget, with no parliamentary authorization, no oversight, no auditing. Nothing. Three hundred and…

So, how did we get screwed this Semana Santa?

Ah, the holiday-smoke-screened Fuck-You Decree: it’s almost as much a Venezuelan Easter Tradition as enormous traffic jams and Bipolar Pisillo. This year, Chávez stuck to the classics. Nothing fancy, just a good, old fashioned nobody’s-reading-newspapers-this-week massive money grab. With Venezuelan oil export prices topping $108/barrel, Chávez signed a decree to grab 95% of windfall profits on…