On The Verge
We’ll go Down The Rabbit Hole in a sec but first…Rio Times tells us that OVF (Venezuela Observatory of Finance) reports that retail prices climbed 20.2% in February over January, which was up 39.2% over December, which was up 37.2% from November.
The year-on-year increase from February is 537.7%. The average monthly increase from November, 2021 to February, 2022 was 4.6% due to the de facto dollarization in Venezuela and efforts by BCV (Venezuela Central Bank) to use scant US dollar reserves to buy bolivars on the currency exchanges creating artificial demand.
Unfortunately for the Venezuelan people Nicolas Maduro decided to tax foreign currency transactions which hurt dollarization and BCV didn’t have enough dollar reserves to keep buying bolivares indefinitely. Combine that with the Maduro regime eliminating subsidies on public utility rates and you have a lot of upward pressure on prices.
It looks like after enduring four years of hyperinflation (the 2nd longest period on record, second only to Nicaragua’s five year period) and a brief period of recovery, Venezuela is on the verge of slipping back into hyperinflation.
Then we have AA telling us that Colombia’s President, Gustavo Petro, announced he plans to convene an international conference in Colombia to promote dialog between sectors of Venezuela.
In it’s prepared statement the government referenced countries in Europe, Latin America, the US, and the Venezuela opposition as being represented in a potential conference in Bogota. Notable by omission is a representative from the Maduro regime.
Venezuela opposition leader, Juan Guaido, took the opportunity to remind Gustavo Petro that there is already a mechanism for dialog in place, the talks in Mexico (not to mention various efforts by the Norwegians over the years), and at this time the Maduro regime is unwilling to cooperate.
Then we have BNN Bloomberg telling us that two former PDVSA (Venezuela government-owned oil company) employees, Alfredo Chinnos and Aryenis Torrealba, have been acquitted by a judge in Venezuela after having been found guilty of leaking information to a US company in February, 2021. They have been in detention for three years. No further details were released by PDVSA and the Information Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole…
Chapter 6 continued…
…Then we have conflicting versions of exactly who is and isn’t required to accept El Petro for goods and services, exactly what those goods and services are, and if you’re required to accept El Petro, how do you do so since there’s no mechanism in place for processing payments with El Petro?
At this point (maybe never?) it doesn’t appear that there are online purchases of PTR. There have been some individuals, much hyped by the government, that have purchased El Petro in person at the office, you know, old school style. There were photos of a Chinese government official leaving the office with his certificate of ownership in hand splashed everywhere. As with all things Chavismo- related, nobody asked the question “So what can that guy actually do with that piece of paper?”
As far as I’ve been able to confirm, there have been a little over $300,000 sold, that’s dollars, not units. They are doing everything they can to generate sales or uses for El Petro. In a 2019, highly questionable move, the government forced El Petro into the retirement system. This was a low blow even for the Chavistas.
Venezuelan retirees receive their monthly pensions via the “Carnet de la Patria” (the Homeland Card)…don’t get me started. Once again, the Carnet de la Patria will require it’s own chapter as it’s government political and economic extortion. Bolivares are placed into retiree’s accounts which they can then transfer to their personal bank account or withdraw cash. Without prior notification retirees got a surprise when they received their text message that the deposit had been made into their account, only it wasn’t in bolivares, it was in Petros! When the uproar commenced as the retirees had no idea what to do with Petros they were told, “Don’t worry, it’s a simple, two-step process to convert Petros into bolivares.” They failed to mention that the “simple process” would delay the arrival of the bolivares by a day or two. They also failed to mention that if you were one of those people that would go to Banco Venezuela and conduct your business in person and withdraw cash it would take an extra trip. It was a fiasco that, as far as I know, hasn’t been repeated.
When Maduro launched his new currency, designated bsS for Bolivar Soberano, it was tied to the Petro saying it would provide stability as the Petro was tied to the price of a barrel of oil. Let me see if I’ve got this right…Is this supposed to be like algebra, if A=B and B=C then A=C ? So how’s that working out? When the bsS was introduced in August, 2018 the black market rate (the real value) was 101 bsS/dollar. On June 1st, 2019 the rate was 6,000 bsS/dollar. How’s that for stability?
It seems that the good old stable Petro isn’t faring much better. PTR has gone from 36,000 bsS/PTR to 196,957 bsS/PTR. It does get curious if you look at the government website though. It still shows the value of PTR (El Petro) at $60 dollars but if you convert the price in bsS (2019 rates since we already have another new currency), 196,957 to dollars you come up with $32.83. So, what is it? Is the value $60 or less than 33 bucks? Funny thing is…nobody cares!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention another little eccentricity of El Petro. Unlike other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, of which I own a little, by the way, where you can buy it today and sell it tomorrow, PTR has a 90 day holding period…and guess what…nobody cares!
Summary : I can understand Maduro’s fascination with cryptocurrency. It’s like they teach you in the Red Cross lifeguard course. “Drowning people are desperate and will latch on to anything.” I’m sure he thought it would be creating money out of thin air, just like printing his “Sovereign Bolivares”. Unfortunately for Maduro and the rest of the Chavistas they failed to grasp even the most basic concept of cryptocurrency, lack of centralized control. Once you get past the conceptual level they really didn’t understand anything else about cryptocurrency either.
There has never been a more confusing, convoluted, and contrary initial offering in the history of financial instruments, and there have been some doozies. Not surprising when you consider the source but you would think that as they worked their way through the process they might have been able to improve the situation a little, clarify the situation a little. You would be wrong.
The only thing remotely resembling the truth about El Petro is that before the concept phase it was worth ZERO! After it was launched it was worth ZERO! Today it’s worth ZERO! Thankfully, other than those few people that were coerced into buying that $300,000 worth of Petros, nobody fell for this fraud. Again, from the Washington Post, ” The Petro might be the most obviously horrible investment ever”!!!
That will do it for this week We’ll be back Monday with our next Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole segment and more current news. Until then…Have a great weekend everybody!!!
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