There are no longer words to summarize the utter devastation taking place in Venezuela's 'socialist paradise' economy, but one can try.
Unfortunately for residents of the Latin American country, what had been predicted on these pages for the past several years is finally coming to pass, as is Venezuela's official currency: the bolivar fell 25 percent on the black market last week to 423 per dollar. As the unofficial Venezuela currency has weakened 80% in street markets in the past year, it is now worth about 66 times less than the primary official rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar.
According to Bloomberg, the bolivar’s dwindling value leaves many Venezuelans stuffing their pockets with wads of cash, since stacks of bills are often required for a routine trip to a restaurant or supermarket.
Asdrubal Oliveros, director of the Caracas-based consultancy Econanalitica, put it rather succinctly: “You want to buy a car? There aren’t any. You want to buy an apartment? You can’t afford one. Basic products aren’t available,” he said. “The only refuge that people have is buying dollars, and because of that, the demand doesn’t stop.”
Since unlike the "developed" world where the debt slaves are misled to believe they too can experience the "wealth effect" by dumping their disposable income in the stock market, people here are buying dollars because of a scarcity of hard goods that could serve as a store of value, according to Oliveros.
And what hard goods can be found can no longer be afforded by anyone.
In fact, Venezuela is gripped in the worst case of hyperinflation currently on earth. According to Bank of America "April inflation reached 100.7% year-on-year and that monthly inflation averaged 8.5% in the first four months of the year." And that is what total economic collapse looks like.
Venezuela’s central bank has not published the Consumer Price Index series since December 2014. Given the rate of observed money creation, the instability in the parallel market and the large local currency financing needs, there are reasons to be concerned that prices could be accelerating very rapidly.
In Caracas, not even quadruple seasonally-adjusted prices can either soothe these concerns, or fool any more of the people, any of the time.
Our estimate indicates that inflation accelerated in year-on-year terms and reached 100.7% in April (Table 2). Monthly inflation peaked at 12.4% in January yet remains high and came in at 6.6% in the most recent print. The average monthly inflation rate observed during the first four months of the year was 8.5%, which would correspond to an annualized rate of 165.9%.
Chart 1 shows the confidence intervals for our year-on-year inflation rates derived from considering the predictions of the 5th and 95th percentile of our forecast distribution. In the most conservative estimate within this range, inflation reached 88.1% in April and averaged 6.7% monthly (118% annualized). In our least conservative estimate, it reached 110.8% in April and averaged 9.8% monthly (208% annualized). Chart 2 displays the distribution of all of our April estimates and shows that they overwhelmingly point to price acceleration.
The good news, according to BofA, is that hyperinflation is good for you: just ask any Keynesian tenured economist and every central banker who is desperate to recreate the Venezuela case study at a global level. After all that $200 trillion in global debt won't hyperinflate itself away.
There is overwhelming evidence that the end of hyperinflations is expansionary and tends to bring political benefits to the governments that ultimately stabilize the economy. This raises the incentives for both the current and a potential future administration to implement the price adjustments that, up until now, have been deemed too politically costly by the authorities
Curiously, on the question of what happens to the government that leads the country into hyperinflation and presides while society tears itself apart, Bank of America had nothing to say about that.
It also had nothing to say about how Venezuela just solved its toilet paper shortage.
As for the best one sentence summary of current events in Venezuela, the following may suffice: