Venezuela Runs Out Of Toilet Paper

Tyler Durden's picture

To vaguely paraphrase Mike Tyson, "everyone has a plan for a socialist utopia, until they run out of toilet paper."

This is just what happened to Venezuela, where in the image vacuum left following the death of leader Hugo Chavez, things are rapidly falling apart for the oil-rich country. And just like in the US, it's Bush's fault, or at least the local such equivalent.

AP reports: "First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities — toilet paper. Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50 million rolls to boost supplies. That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday. “This is the last straw,” said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for tissue in downtown Caracas. “I’m 71 years old and this is the first time I’ve seen this.” One supermarket visited by The Associated Press in the capital on Wednesday was out of toilet paper. Another had just received a fresh batch, and it quickly filled up with shoppers as the word spread. “I’ve been looking for it for two weeks,” said Cristina Ramos. “I was told that they had some here and now I’m in line.”

All of this this is quite surprising: because while one may not be able eat gold, one may certainly use fiat, especially fiat of any regime in the last throes of economic collapse and where staggered currency devaluation is now a periodic fact, as precisely the noted commodity in short supply.

Artist's conception of what the country's TP (single-ply) may soon look like: all it would take are a few more sequential devaluations.


Economists say Venezuela’s shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government’s controls on foreign currency.


State-controlled prices — prices that are set below market-clearing price — always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.


President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chavez to carry on his “Bolivarian revolution,” claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilize the country.


The government this week announced it would import 760,000 tons of food and 50 million rolls of toilet paper.


Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue on “excessive demand” built up as a result of “a media campaign that has been generated to disrupt the country.”


“The revolution will bring the country the equivalent of 50 million rolls of toilet paper,” he was quoted as saying Tuesday by state news agency AVN. “We are going to saturate the market so that our people calm down.”


Finance Minister Nelson Merentes said the government was also addressing the lack of foreign currency, which has resulted in the suspension of foreign supplies of raw materials, equipment and spare parts to Venezuelan companies, disrupting their production.


We are making progress … we have to work very hard,” Merentes told reporters Wednesday.


Many factories operate at half capacity because the currency controls make it hard for them to pay for imported parts and materials. Business leaders say some companies verge on bankruptcy because they cannot extend lines of credit with foreign suppliers.


Merentes said the government had met the U.S. dollar requests of some 1,500 small- and medium-sized companies facing supply problems, and was reviewing requests from a similar number of larger companies.


Chavez imposed currency controls a decade ago trying to stem capital flight as his government expropriated large land parcels and dozens of businesses.


Anointed by Chavez as his successor before the president died from cancer, Maduro won a close presidential election April 14 against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who refused to accept the result, claiming Maduro won through fraud and voter intimidation. He filed a complaint to the Supreme Court, asking for the vote to be annulled, though that’s highly unlikely to happen since the court is packed with government-friendly justices.

Still, central planning refuses to be defeated in the face of the TP crisis:

Fleming, the commerce minister, said monthly consumption of toilet paper was normally 125 million rolls, but that current demand “leads us to think that 40 million more are required.”


We will bring in 50 million to show those groups that they won’t make us bow down,” he said.

Alternatively, if the government is not merely paranoid, and if indeed this is just another CIA-inspired tactic to overthrow the government, then the Langley brain trust will have redeemed itself for the recent humiliation in Russia by showing the world it can truly think outside of the toilet box.

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jerry_theking_lawler's picture

They should contact Argentina....I hear they have lots of TP....there they call it the Peso. Next on the list, USSA.

GetZeeGold's picture



Just blame it all on in the US.

Bearwagon's picture

Or blame it all on Bruno ..... worked for JPMorgue.

GetZeeGold's picture



Works well on almost any setting or level.


Remember that guy?


His fault!!!

Bearwagon's picture

They went that-a-way!  ;)

strannick's picture

Congrats ZH on the best paraphrase of all time.

GetZeeGold's picture



But will it be enough to impress Joe Kernan?

I am more equal than others's picture

I just took a Hugo Chavez - someone pass me some pesos.  Viva la revolution.  Oh no... I got the Che Guevara again.  More pesos please.  

Esso's picture

I find it pretty difficult to find fault with other country's leaders while enduring the reign of O'bama.

GetZeeGold's picture



Pretty ballsy statement.

You're not afraid of the IRS and the Cheetas?

krispkritter's picture

You can't wipe, er, make this shit up anymore...

It's like Groundhog Day.

Pure Evil's picture

I hear WB7 has printed millions of rolls BenieClownBux's and can ship at a moments notice.

And, to blame Bush once again, well, that's just a fecal smear campaign.

Manthong's picture

I don't suppose they grow much corn down there, do they?

De-kerneled cobs do have several utility values.

imaginalis's picture

They are not doing a very good job of intercepting their citizens telecommunications data. They had to print it out on rolls of paper.

BraveSirRobin's picture

Yes, they just have a little bit of a head start on us.

SamAdams's picture

Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue on “excessive demand” built up as a result of “a media campaign that has been generated to disrupt the country.”

It appears media smells the same where ever you may be....

Esso's picture

I recall a shortage of toilet paper here in the early/mid 70s caused by a joke by Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.

Umh's picture

I recall a shortage of gasoline here in the 70's caused by government price controls.

francis_sawyer's picture

I recall a shortage of TRUTH very recently caused by government FREEDOM OF SPEECH controls...

Zwelgje's picture

No no lets laugh at Venezuela.

francis_sawyer's picture

Venezuela... Hmmm... OK ~ here's Venezuala in a nutshell...


- Chavez asked for their gold back

- He got it

- He also got DEAD shortly thereafter



Cartel Central Bank coming to Venezuela in 5...4...3...2... [which also means, laterally, that ZH 'servers' would be, unwelcome, in Venezuela, shortly]...

QuesoPapa's bitchez!



BTW ~ I suppose a 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY'  [4 years] is in order for the 'ZH Manifesto' [copied below]



our mission:

  • to widen the scope of financial, economic and political information available to the professional investing public.
  • to skeptically examine and, where necessary, attack the flaccid institution that financial journalism has become.
  • to liberate oppressed knowledge.
  • to provide analysis uninhibited by political constraint.
  • to facilitate information's unending quest for freedom.

our method: pseudonymous speech...

anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. it thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation-- and their ideas from suppression-- at the hand of an intolerant society.

   ...responsibly used.

the right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. but political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.

- mcintyre v. ohio elections commission 514 u.s. 334 (1995) justice stevens writing for the majority

though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks) anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the united states. used by the likes of mark twain (aka samuel langhorne clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by alexander hamilton, james madison and john jay (aka publius) to write the federalist papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume. particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the united states, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech. like the economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker- as it should be. we believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn't.



On the 'TRUTH' path [francis_sawyer trying to live up to the ZH Manifesto, on the eve of its birthday]... Yesterday I made a comment to SMG [about 'THIS 'ERS & 'THAT'ERS ~ as is, it's NOT this, it's THAT]...

Seems to me I remember him always going on about 'Luciferians'... OK ~ Let's take that one out for a spin...

I'm no legal genius, but I'm seriously doubting that there's anything in Swiss Law that can get you sued for talking about 'Luciferians'... I mean, WTF?... Is 'discrimination' against 'Luciferians' a crime in Switzerland?... Are they actually a 'race'... 'Religion' I'll leave aside, & besides, I've always said IT.HAS.NOTHING.TO.DO.WITH.RELIGION.

Anyway ~ The only logical thing to conclude in this matter is that 'some entity' is being protected... Following that path... If 'Luciferians' aren't the ones being protected, or, just for shits & grins, say, "Syrians", [& I'll just bundle up the 'Syrians' with that, because, if anything, it's 24/7 open season on 'Syrians' who nobody seems to give a FF about save for which bombs to torpedo them with]...

So, if SMG's efforts to shine the spotlight on "Luciferian's" is flawed... Then there are only two possible conclusions:

1. He's FOS

2. He's 'correct'... But if he is, how do you skate around the unlikelihood that anybody would ever win a court case that accused someone of 'discriminating' against 'Luciferians'? [there would be no need to post 'anti-discrimination' clauses on your webpage]... So while the 'Luciferian' ANGLE may still hold water, it can only mean that if the 'Luciferians' are behind anything, & if it's not a defense for THEMSELVES [which would seem an absurd court case, to ME anyway], then INSTEAD, they're [assuminbg it's THEM] acting on behalf of a special entity which is near & dear to their hearts... Now ~ when you consider that prospect, it is almost MORE frightful than considering the simpler idea of the 'special entity' acting by themselves... But I'm a classless handicapper of things, so I'll wait for a more reasonable explanation from the corps of experts out there that frequent this blog...

It's all so confusing [to some]...

Rustysilver's picture


Recently, you mean since 1861.

SilverIsKing's picture

Where did I hear that before? Price controls leads to shortages? Price suppression leads to...???

InvestmentMind's picture

Hmm, I seem to recall that  too.

Could it have been in Chapter 2 of Econ 101?

Stupid government can't even read 20 pages of basic f*n economics.


Lets_Eat_Ben's picture

Hahahaha... you guys are hilarious!




Clayton Bigsby's picture

That's a shitty situation.... Ba-dump-bump... Thank you, thank you - donations will be accepted...

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Alas, alas, three wipes alas, situation reveals another evidence supercify benefitiality of Chinese citizenism system laudated over 'south' 'american' toilet papery.

Chinese citizenism citizens will never faced such dilemna unless accident resultatings in lossed of dung hand unfortuitously.

'South' 'american' tissued bunghole wiping nature is eternal.

edb5s's picture

Or up shit's creeek with a turd for a paddle.

Ween - Piss Up a Rope

This just in's picture

This could never happen in the USA.  MOst  Americans don't give a shit.

FeralSerf's picture

As long as one is UP Shit Creek, one can always float downstream. And that's what we're doing.

Rustysilver's picture

How many pages does communist manifesto book has: use that.

Sudden Debt's picture


problem solved....


howenlink's picture

The can't get cornmeal, so they don't need toilet paper.

FeralSerf's picture

Tell the hens they need to lay more eggs.

williambanzai7's picture

Sounds like a paper run...

StychoKiller's picture

A tropical country can always rely on banana leaves in a crunch such as this!

Paper CRUSHer's picture

Yes, I once collected a dozen or so fallen leaves from a mango tree during a trip to remote region in India many years ago.A couple of friends and I cleaned the debris from the leaves in a nearby stream during that day hiking i also noticed that the mango leaves were pretty effective not abrasive one bit and so did the job.

Next time if ya ever runs into a situation such as this,all of the above applies.

Hulk's picture

Dogs make a good backup to tp, just need a little butterscotch...

orez65's picture

Just make sure that the mango tree leaves sap doesn't get on your ass.

Many people are allergic to the sap and will get a nasty rash!!

joak's picture

First I tought they were running out of USD. Then, reading further, I understood I was right. They ran out of toilet paper, hence being unable to buy TP. 

fonzannoon's picture

I tell people all the time to load up on these consumer staples. No one listens. I get the polite nervous laugh.

I have no idea who Dick Trickle is, other than ESPN used to have fun with his name when they talked about Nascar. Seems like a good enough guy. Successful, happy....calls the cops...tells them where to find his body....shoots himself...

what a fucked up world.

pods's picture

Dick Trickle is dead?  Bummer.

I used to chuckle whenever I heard that name.

Actually, I still do.


ceilidh_trail's picture

A buddy of mine did that a few years ago. He survived Vietnam, PanAm, Eastern, DHL, the FAA, open heart surgery and cardiac arrest. Ready to retire, well off financially, but marital problems. None of us knew how bad he thought it was. Left behind two college age daughters. I have not set foot on that property since and probably never will as I know the exact place where he did it. Too sad.

Peachfuzz's picture

Right there with ya man, even got junked on here for saying so.

Heard it here 1/22/13

betting on needing tp is like betting that the sun will come up in the morning. It's been a pretty solid performing tangible asset. lulz

BraveSirRobin's picture

I once read a book that extolled a flawed investing "system" (so I will not plug it) but it did give some good advice. It said that if you really think the economic world was going to end, then you should buy a lifetime's supply of soap, toilet paper, and booze. If the end does come, you will have usefull basic necessities you will not otehrwise be able to get (even if you have gold, no one will be producing it) that will be in high demand that you can also barter for perishable goods. If it does not come to pass, then you can still use it, and you will save lots of money because you will not buy it at inflated prices in the future, even at low nominal rates of inflation.

Acet's picture

Clearly "los yankes" must behind this. Probably they've poisoned the water supplies of Caracas with some kind of diarhea-inducing chemical.

Or maybe people are just not able to hold their shit for quite as long now that there are no more 8h speeches on TV from Presidente Chaves.


earnulf's picture

Okay, so you're going to bring in 50 million rolls which will take care of May, what about June or the rest of the months in the year.   Your "shortfall" is 40 million rolls PER MONTH or will there be another shortage next month to divert attention from the fact that people can't find anything to wipe themselves with?

I know governments are "mathematically challenged" given the deficits, but c'mon, isn't anyone in Venz doing basic math besides trying to figure out how to add zeros to the end of the currency stream?


jimmytorpedo's picture

50 million rolls is actually 3 rolls per woman and a 1/3 of a roll per man.

In my house that would be a weeks supply of toilet paper.

When neighbours ask my investment advice I tell  them to fill the garage with toilet paper.

I'm used to geting strange looks.

Toilet paper also floats longer than metal for all you sloppy boaters out there.