More than a year after hyperinflating banana republic Venezuela stopped reporting official inflation data, Venezuela has stopped publishing money supply data, depriving the general public of the last, and best, available tool to ascertain soaring inflation in what has become the world's worst-performing economy. Then again, one hardly needs official data to confirm the blistering wave of hyperinflation sweeping through the nation which has seen the value of the bolivar disintegrate under the Maduro regime.
The money supply indicator suddenly stopped appearing on the central bank's website on Feb. 24. The data in question, which will no longer be updated, looked as follows most recently.
Despite the halt of CPI data, consumer price rises are widely seen to be in triple digits, driven by an unraveling socialist system in which many people struggle to obtain meals and medicines. The M2 money supply was up by nearly 180% in mid-February from a year earlier, according to the central bank before it halted the release of the weekly data without explanation last month Reuters reports. In contrast, Reuters reports that neighboring Colombia's M2 was up 7 percent in the same period and the United States' was up 6 percent.
"If they are not publishing, you know it must be skyrocketing," Aurelio Concheso, director of the Caracas-based business consultancy Aspen Consulting, stated the obvious. The central bank and ministry of communications did not respond to a request for comment, Reuters adds.
An increase in M2, the sum of cash together with checking, savings and other deposits, means more currency is circulating. That can accelerate inflation when coupled with a decline in the output of goods and services - such as in Venezuela, which is in the fourth year of a recession. When money supply is growing exponentially, as it has been in Venezuela, academics usually point to the infamous example of the Weimar Republic and leave it at that.
Slowly but surely Venezuela has stopped publishing all economic data. In addition to money supply and CPI, the government ceased the dissemination of gross domestic product data more than a year ago. Before that, it put an end to the release of balance of payments figures and its consumer product scarcity index.
For those who are somehow unfamiliar, Venezuela's money supply, as measured by M2, has risen exponentially since Hugo Chavez, a devout socialist, came to power in 1999 and is a major factor behind what is thought to be the world's highest inflation.
In the absence of official data - and highlighting Venezuela's conflict of powers - the opposition-run National Assembly is publishing its own inflation figure, which it said reached 741 percent in the year to February. Critics accuse the government of suppressing data in order to hide the magnitude of the economic mess and of stoking price rises by reckless money-printing and overspending.
Socialist Nicolas Maduro, elected president after Chavez's 2013 death, has long blamed Venezuela's difficulties on an "economic war" being waged on the government by the opposition and U.S. government.
With no money supply figures available, the closest alternative is "excess bank reserves" data, a number which in the US has in recent years been around $2.5 trillion and which many expect will ultimately translate into runaway inflation once the hyperinflation in risk asset markets spills over into the broader economy. Still published by the Venezuela central bank, it represents the total funds that banks have available to make commercial loans though is no substitute for M2, say economists. The last year for which inflation data is available from the central bank is 2015, when consumer prices rose 181 percent.