The last time we updated on the value - we use the term very loosely in this case - of the Venezuela currency, the Bolivar in the black market, was at the start of November, when one US dollar purchased 1,567 bolivars in the street. Fast forward not even two full weeks later, and the Venezuela currency has now officially crossed the "nice, round number" psychological hyperinflation barrier of 2,000/USD, trading at 2,014 today, crashing by 22% since our last check, and an vomit-inducing 43% in the past month.
The exponentially-rising chart below shows what hyperinflation in a destroyed socialist economy looks like.
Source: Dolar Today
Has anything changed so dramatically in Venezuela's economic conditions to necessitate a nearly 50% devaluation in its currency in one month? Hardly. To be sure, the latent issues remain, the biggest of which is the latest slump in the price of oil which merely adds insult to injury for Maduro. According to Bloomberg, Venezuela is among the countries leading the latest push to overcome the divide between SaudiArabia, Iraq and Iran ahead of the upcoming OPEC meeting in Vienna. Naturally, there is a far more selfish reason why Venezuela is desperate the price of crude rises.
And while Venezuela waits for the latest disappointment out of OPEC, Reuters reports that the country's massively unpopular president, Nicolas Maduro, who presided over Venezuela's terminal collapse and is only in power thanks to the army's support, is now trying his hand at salsa music to cheer up his broke countrymen.
According to Reuters, Maduro, a music aficionado who used to play in a rock band, debuted "Salsa Hour" this month and has broadcast four episodes from a radio booth specially installed in the Miraflores presidential palace, with each episode lasting several hours.
"This is a program full of energy and joy," said Maduro, 53, in one show, headphones on as he drummed his fingers and spun classics of the Caribbean rhythm. "I would do it every day ... to sing about our lives, anxieties, pains and dreams."
Surely singing about the "anxieties and pains" provides countless hours of content for the wannabe dictator. During the shows, sometimes also shown on TV, Maduro has danced with his wife, explained the history of salsa and devoted a program to Puerto Rican singer Ismael Rivera.
Politics have crept in too. He dedicated the song "You're crazy, crazy, but I'm cool" to arch-foe and National Assembly President Henry Ramos and the song "Vagrant" to opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
Though Venezuela's 30 million people adore music, especially salsa, Maduro's show has fueled criticism that he is disconnected from reality in a country where millions are skipping meals amid shortages and rising prices. "Maduro's program is like a mockery," said Capriles, who narrowly lost to him in the 2013 presidential vote and has championed a drive for a referendum to recall Maduro.
"He should have a bit more respect for the Venezuelan people. He is not an entertainer."
That however won't stop Maduro who appears to have taken a page right out of the Hillary Clinton book on how to become more popular with the poor:
"Maduro wants to connect with the poorest who, despite the crisis, still get together and listen to music," said Andres Canizales, a media scholar and spokesman for the Citizens' Monitor group.
We don't have high hopes for Maduro's radio show, but we can safely say that the modern equivalent of Nero fiddling while Rome burns, is Maduro dancing salsa while Venezuela's currency - and economy - disintegrates.