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Venezuelas economic


has made headlines all over the world for the past few years.

Hunger is widespread there.

Unable to afford the small amount of food available in supermarkets, many Venezuelans

have resorted to eating garbage to survive.

Even zoo animals in Venezuela are starving according to a report by the Daily Mail, and

people have been breaking into zoos to eat them.

A recent survey found that thefood crisis has also created an education crisis, as more

than 1 million children no longer attend school, mostly due to hunger and a lack of public


Moises Rendon and Mark L. Schneider of the Center for Strategic & International Studies

provide a bleak assessment of Venezuelas current situation, saying the country is suffering

an unprecedented man-made humanitarian crisis.”

They say Venezuela resemblesa country at warand notes some of its major social

problems, includingextreme food and medicine shortages,” “rampant crimes in every city,”

constant electric blackouts,” andlooting and repression.”

When you see and hear these stories, you cant help but wonder what went wrong.

How could a country that was once one of the most affluent countries in South America reach

such a sorry state?

One source of the misery in Venezuela is its out-of-control inflation, which we will examine

in this episode of The Infographics Show, “Venezuelan Hyperinflation Explained.”

Before we discuss Venezuelan hyperinflation, lets begin with a discussion of what hyperinflation

is in general.

Simply put, hyperinflation is very high, rapid, and continuous inflation.

In a hyperinflation situation, the prices of goods and services in an economy quickly

rise to a level so high that they become difficult to afford for most people.

While experts cannot agree what that exact level is, economist Michael K. Salemi states

that hyperinflation is generally used todescribe episodes when the monthly inflation rate is

greater than 50 percent.”

He gives the example thatat a monthly rate of 50 percent, an item that cost $1 on

January 1 would cost $130 on January 1 of the following year.”

The hyperinflation in Venezuela is significantly more than the rate cited by Salemi.

According to an August 2018 BBC article, prices of goodshave been doubling every 26 days

on average,” and the annual inflation ratereached 83,000% in July.”

One source reported that a cup of coffee cost 450 bolivars in Venezuela less than two years


Earlier this year, it cost a shocking 2.5 million bolivars.

But wildly high prices are not the only serious effect of hyperinflation.

As a Guardian article notes, theproblem comes when the supply of paper money in an

economy outstrips demand for goods and services, causing the value of the currency to fall.”

Following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe, Venezuela turned to increasing its money supply because

it had no other means to pay its debts as we shall see later.

But ultimately Venezuela ended up in its current hyperinflation situation due to a combination

of several factors:

Number 3: High Government Spending

President Hugo Chavez ran Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013.

Chavez and his administration implemented social programs called the Bolivarian Missions

that were supposed to improve living conditions for the poor by redistributing wealth and

reforming the way land was used.

There was also an attempt to promote economic democratization through the establishment

of worker-owned cooperatives.

Data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) indicates that Chavez achieved

a high degree of success with these programs.

He was able to reduce unemployment from 14.5 percent in 1999 to 7.8 percent in 2011.

The poverty rate also dropped from 50 percent in 1999 to 31.9 percent in 2011, while extreme

poverty dropped from 19.9 to 8.6 percent in 2011.

Unfortunately, this prosperity came at a high financial cost.

The social programs were good for the people but bad for the economy.

Chavez spent more money on these social programs than the country could really afford.

According to CNBC, public spending accounted for more than 50 percent of Venezuelas

GDP in 2012.

He also borrowed money from other countries to keep the programs going.

By 2013, Venezuelas foreign debt climbed to a little over $106 billion.

According to one source, Chavez had been warned about the growing fiscal deficit as early

as 2002, but he didnt pay attention to the warnings.

For Chavez, these social programs were a way to win over the people.

Maintaining his popularity with the people was important to him because it was a way

for him to maintain his power.

An article in The Economist states that through the Bolivarian Missions and theflood of

oil moneyhe was able torebuff a referendum in 2004 that would have removed him from office.”

To make matters worse, Chavez and his administration failed to save money for future economic crises,

which quickly emerged due to an event that happened in 2014.

Number 2: Low Oil Prices

Venezuelas economy is mainly based on selling only one commodity: oil.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world.

The World Atlas states that it has 300,878 billion barrels of proven reserves.

According to Oil Sands Magazine, “most of Venezuelas proved oil reserves are located

in the Orinoco Petroleum Belt,” which is located on the eastern Orinoco River Basin.

The Orinoco Belt is approximately 370 miles (600 km) in length and has an area of about

21,357 sq. mi. (55,314 sq. km.).

It is estimated that the area contains about 1.2 trillion barrels of oil.

Another oil-rich area in the country is the area near Lake Maracaibo, which is actually

a brackish tidal bay that is located near the Caribbean Sea.

One source estimates that thelakes basin supplies about two-thirds of the total

Venezuelan output.”

With the discovery of oil in Venezuela in the early 1900s, the country relied more and

more on it as a revenue source.

Today, Venezueladerives over 50% of its GDP from petroleum exports which represents

about 95% of total exportsaccording to a Forbes article.

This meant that when oil prices were high, life was good.

For instance, Venezuelans enjoyed a high standard of living when oil prices spiked in the 1960s

and 1970s.

An online magazine called describes howVenezuela was considered

rich in the early 1960s: It produced more than 10 percent of the worlds crude and

had a per capita GDP many times bigger than that of its neighbors Brazil and Colombia

and not far behind that of the United States.”

Conversely, when oil prices went low, life was bad, and this is what happened to Venezuela

starting in 2014.

That year, the price of oil dropped sharply from $100 to about $70 a barrel, and the price

decline continuedto a low of around $33 dollars a barrel in early 2016according

to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

The slump in oil prices sent Venezuela into an economic downward spiral.

Lower oil prices brought with it a reduction of Venezuelas foreign reserves, and AIER

states that this in turn reduced the governments ability tosubsidize basic goods and services

for its people.”

Number 1: Continuing Economic Mismanagement

The Venezuelan government, now under the control of Chavezs successor Nicolas Maduro, dealt

with the budget gap the way other countries in a similar situation did in the past when

they had no other way to pay their debtsprint money.

AIER notes that printing money set the wheels in motion for hyperinflation: “The budget

shortfall was closed by printing money.

Hyperinflation took hold, destroying the savings of individuals and making productive business

investment nearly impossible.”

A comment made by a nurse named Maigualida Oronoz helps you understand what living with

hyperinflation is like for the average citizen living in Venezuela.

In an interview with the Guardian, she says, “We are millionaires, but we are poor . . . We

can just about eat, but if some health emergency happens well die because the prices of

medicines are sky-high and rise every day.”

According to economist Theodore Cangero, hyperinflation continues under Maduro becausehe is continuing

the disastrous economic policies of the late President Chávez.”

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that Maduro seemed to be in denial about Venezuelas


In an interview with Reuters, Rodrigo Cabeza, Hugo Chavezs former finance minister, said

thatVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has refused to recognize the countrys hyperinflationary

problem and has no plan to address it.”

Now it seems that he has come up with course of action.

President Maduro has decided to play games with the value of Venezuelas dying bolivar

currency in a desperate effort to give the appearance that hyperinflation is disappearing

from his country.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) outlines his current plans for the

bolivar: “His proposed monetary reform has three pillars: (1) slash five zeros from pricesso

a product that costs 100,000 bolívares would now cost 1 bolívarand give the currency

a different name, thesovereign bolívar”; (2) devalue the currency by 95 percent; and

(3) peg the bolívar to the petro, Venezuelas digital currency backed by oil introduced

in February 2018.”

He then plans to combine these monetary reforms with yet another round of questionable government


CNBC reports that he willhike the minimum wage by over 3,000 percent, boost the corporate

tax rate, and increase highly-subsidized gas prices in coming weeks.”

PIIE and other economic experts are skeptical that these measures will work to reduce hyperinflation

because they dont address the underlying problems that are causing the hyperinflation

in the first place.

PIIE argues thatthere is no substantial fiscal reform in the works, no attempt to

rebuild dismantled institutions, and no announced shifts in economic policymaking.”

PIIE even forecasts that Venezuelalooks set to beat Zimbabwe, a country that managed

to have an annualized inflation rate of 79 billion percent in November 2008.”

The economists interviewed by CNBC also have a dire outlook for Maduros monetary plan.

They think it will make the hyperinflation in Venezuela even worse:

Amid this aggressive devaluation and monetary expansions due to salaries and bonuses, we

are expecting a much more aggressive stage of hyperinflation.

All the more so in a context where the elimination of excessive money printing is not credible.

The worst of all worlds, said Venezuelan economist Asdrubal Oliveros of consultancy Ecoanalitica.

A large number of Venezuelans have decided that they no longer want to live in this world

where all of the social gains of low poverty and low unemployment recklessly bought by

Hugo Chavez have been wiped out by incompetent leadership, poor financial planning, and widespread


They are fleeing from Venezuela in droves.

According to the Guardian, “nearly two million people have fled Venezuelas economic and

political crisis since 2015.”

The exodus will continue unless some drastic monetary and political changes are made.

How long do you think Venezuelas hyperinflation will last?

What do you think needs to be done to fix it?

Let us know in the comments!

Also, be sure to check out our other video called Why You Will Soon Be Eating Crickets

and Other Insects!

Thanks for watching, and, as always, dont forget to like, share, and subscribe.

See you next time!


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