Free Markets, Free People

Hugo Chavez wishes he had Obama’s approval numbers

That’s right – even at their lowest ebb right now, Obama’s are better numbers than Hugo has (although Harry Reid would probably kill for Hugo’s numbers):

In a survey last month, Consultores 21 found that only 36 percent of Venezuelans approved of Chavez’s performance, a seven-year low.

Any guess why? Yeah, I know, a real stumper. Let’s channel Bill Clinton’s campaign message for a minute. Ah, yes, there it is – "it’s the economy, stupid." Do you know what the Venezuelan economy looks like right now?

The Economist magazine provides statistics weekly on 57 nations, from the United States to Estonia. Its most recent report forecasts that gross domestic product in Venezuela will decline by 5.5 percent in 2010. Next worst is Greece, with a 3.9 percent decline. Greece, of course, came close to defaulting on its debt earlier this year, and analysts at Morgan Stanley worry that Venezuela is moving in the same direction.

“Our new baseline of at least three years of economic contraction suggests the risks to Venezuela’s ability to honor its international financial commitments may be on the rise,” wrote Daniel Volberg and Giuliana Pardelli in a June report, at the same time predicting that GDP will fall by 6.2 percent in 2010. “While most of Latin America, in line with the globe, has been in recovery mode since last year, Venezuela has seen an intensifying downturn in activity,” they added.

So that’s GDP, the single best measure of economic health. When it comes to inflation, no one is close to Venezuela. Consumer prices are already up 31 percent for 2010 and are expected to rise more by year-end. Only two of the remaining 56 nations monitored by the Economist are suffering double-digit inflation: India and Egypt, both with 11 percent price increases.

Venezuela’s stagflation is all the more remarkable because, as the No. 8 oil-producing nation in the world, the country should be benefiting handsomely from high oil prices.

And it most likely would be doing so if it didn’t have an idiot who thinks socialism works at the helm.

Chavez has spent a lot of time, however, consolidating the organs of government power under his control and stomping out any opposition media in an attempt to keep Venezuelans in the dark (and not just from the rolling blackouts that plague the country) as to what is happening. But economics have a way of running those sorts of blockades when the reality of them sets in on the populace:

But even a news blackout would not prevent Venezuelans from knowing firsthand what is happening to their nation’s economy. Retail sales were down 12 percent in the first half of the year; sales of food, beverages, and tobacco in specialty stores were off 30 percent. Chavez slapped on permanent exchange controls to prevent “the oligarchy from taking U.S. dollars and depositing them in banks around the world.” But like most such controls, they have only panicked investors and businesses and led to more capital flight. Figures from the Central Bank of Venezuela showed $9 billion in capital outflows in the first half of the year.

Venezuelans go to the polls tomorrow in a similar situation to the US – midterm elections and a ruling party that has proven to be inept and corrupt. It is parliament they’ll be voting for. And given the shape of the country, the censorship, inflation, crime (Caracas is more dangerous than Baghdad) and economic disaster Venezuelans have been experiencing the opposition does indeed have some "hope" for "change".

Whether Hugo actually allows that, of course, is another matter altogether.



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11 Responses to Hugo Chavez wishes he had Obama’s approval numbers

  • That other hemispheric basket-case…the one that Venezuela is currently SUGAR DADDY for…appears to have seen the handwriting on the wall.  New stories of de-Collectivizing Cuba are out every few days.
    I wonder how long the suffering people of Venezuela are going to keep subsidizing the suffering people of Cuba?
    Could be big changes coming…

    • I’m actually concerned about the 500k Castro plans to lay off (and the following 500k they will lay off).

      These people don’t know free markets. Further, I anticipate they will lay off the least efficient workers, those less able to adjust to the free market. I predict significant failure when the layoffs occur, and while this will fix itself in time, if the government there gets out of the way sufficiently, I anticipate quite a bit of suffering in the short term, and I’m not convinced the Castros have learned enough to get the government out of the way far enough for long term success.

      I’m afraid the free market will take the blame (in some circles) when the Cuban layoffs fail. And I’m also concerned for the people, although the reality is that the country is heading towards even bigger, more massive fail if they don’t liberalize.

  • In a totalitarian state, such as Venezuela, the president’s approval rating is directly related to the fear of the populace.  Chavez does not have a 36% approval rating!  Instead, 36% of the populace feared sufficiently for their safety that they said they approved of him!

    Similarly, Obama does not have a 42% approval rating as the most recent poll shows.  Instead, 42% of the populace……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..! 

  • And it most likely would be doing so if it didn’t have an idiot who thinks socialism works at the helm.

    >>> Lets be real for a minute. He’s like all other socialist/communist heads of state – he really does know it doesn’t work. But it sure is useful for allowing him to consolidate power. And it fools the Erbs….I mean rubes long enough to allow him to sack the country, gain power and hide away a nice nest egg for that day not to far in the future when he has to hop a military jet and become a permanent guest of some other scum state.

    I fervently hope the mob catches him before that happens.

  • “36?   Jimmy could you check the machine?”
    “Looks like 63 to me!”

  • Chavez has responded to these ills by shutting down media outlets, restricting economic freedom, blaming his critics, and throwing political opponents and businessmen in jail.

    at least so far, we only have “blaming his critics”

    • Working…give them time…  They are doing what they can to shut off non-compliant media, and try getting a student loan that isn’t tainted by government now, apropos economic freedom.  See also, Waxman, Henry and Weiner (Asshole, NY) regarding witch-hunts of business people who don’t toe the mark.

  • I get the “logic” of redistributing the wealth.

    What I don’t get is that in addition to doing that, they also go after “evil profits.” Well, if there are no profits, then what can you re-distribute?

    If you have no pie, you can’t exactly split it into qual shares.

    This may eventually become a split in the left, in the USA, where some decide to become more business-tolerant and clamp down on some spending, if only to preserve the wealth transfers they desire.