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Wed Jan 11, 2017, 03:02 PM


Venezuelas Awful Economy Got Even Worse in 2016


-> It’s hard to find parallels outside wartime, analysts say
-> Dollar squeeze drives output down from bakers to carmakers

Venezuelans have to navigate a labyrinth of lines to buy staples like sugar or aspirin. They’ve gotten used to finding that the store shelves are empty, a frustration that sometimes boils over into looting. So they don’t really need economic data to tell them that 2016 was a terrible year.

Still, when and if the numbers do come in, they’ll likely confirm a collapse that’s almost unprecedented outside wartime. The government has long since halted regular publication of GDP figures, maintaining radio silence since February. But the International Monetary Fund’s estimate, of a 10 percent contraction, would make Venezuela the world’s worst economy last year -- and that’s toward the optimistic end of the spectrum. Private economists put the drop at as much as 15 percent.

Read more: Venezuela’s Meltdown -- a QuickTake

After the third and harshest year of what now qualifies as a full-blown depression, Venezuela has lost about a fifth of its output. A free-spending government was blindsided by the 2014 collapse in oil prices, which drained the economy of dollars, leaving many staple goods in short supply and pushing inflation to triple digits. As the country’s economists try to pin down the numbers, its historians struggle to find parallels for such a slump, at least since the War of Independence two centuries ago.

Yet another strike to add to the failed experiment that is the Bolivarian Revolution.

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