Thursday, February 04, 2016

The most miserable economies in the world?

There never seems to be a shortage of articles trashing left-leaning Latin American governments and praising the dubious practices of rightwing ones.

Venezuela has replaced Cuba as the Latin Bogeyman nation for the American Establishment. Venezuela has enjoyed the benefits of being a petrostate. And now with the worldwide fall in oil prices, they are strongly feeling the downside. Even with high oil prices, being a petrostate has its drawbacks. The oil business draws so many people in the cities, for instance, that despite fertile farmlands, Venezuela has a chronic problem with its agricultural sector.

Gawker has this piece whose title gives a good idea of the amount of analytical care in its few paragraphs, Venezuela Is So Fucked by Hamilton Nolan 02/03/2016.

Bloomberg Business includes Venezuela as one of the featured five countries in These Are the World's Most Miserable Economies by A Catarina Saraiva and Michelle Jamrisko 02/04/2016.

One of the other five countries distinguished in the article is Argentina. One of the world's most miserable economies? That's ridiculous. Although since Mauricio Macri's government took power in December, they've been working hard to take the economy into that direction with stock neoliberal prescriptions.

I love the following part. Cristina Fernández' government was criticized by the conventional wisdom for supposedly deliberately understating inflation. The Finance Ministry under Axel Kiciloff rejected this criticism and defended the estimate.

Once Macri took office, he immediately sharply devaluated the Argentine peso against the dollar, producing something like a 30% inflation shock. This immediately slams the purchasing power of the workers and the middle class. And his government is resisting corresponding increases in wages and salaries, including notable repressive measures against some labor demonstrations.

This is all part of the standard neoliberal approach in the developing countries. And to muddy the impact of the devaluation, his government stopped publishing inflation figures altogether.

Which makes the quote in Bloomberg Business just awesome: "In Argentina, authorities are in the midst of overhauling the national statistics agency and have stopped reporting some economic indicators until that's done, after being accused for years of releasing dodgy data."

The other three countries listed as part of the top five most miserable economies in this most dubious article are Greece, South Africa and Ukraine. I would note that Greece and Ukraine are also notable examples of the results of the kind of neoliberal dogma currently being applied by the Macri government in Argentina.

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