By Tal Cual
Bill Clinton, during his successful presidential campaign of 1992 against George H. W. Bush, coined in the famous “the economy, stupid” phrase in order to give some importance to the economic matter in the U.S. Perhaps members of the economic team from President Nicolás Maduro are using the same catchy phrase today, for the economy is eating them alive.
To be just, they truly inherited an economic situation that the late Hugo Chávez himself had taken care of causing some serious damage. But Maduro and company cannot find a way out of the economic trap their beloved boss left for them.
They started out with a devaluation of 40% that has already devastated household incomes with the force of a tsunami. Chávez, and then the continuators of his work, began opening a gap between the official rate of the dollar and that sold on the “black market” to the extent that the last devaluation announced recently will be dwarfed soon enough as the gap from dollar to dollar gets bigger.
The nation’s economic deterioration announces tough times to come. Worst of all is that we don’t see any skills or knowledge from the Government’s economic team to address the problem. Devaluations, as we all know, have terrible consequences over those making a living anywhere in the world.
In a country that imports everything, like ours, where roughly $60 billion were spent in imports, it is not necessary to be a rocket scientist to become aware of the devastating effects of this over the economy.
The nation is already suffering – and will suffer even more – the effects of an economic policy put into practice by Chávez himself and now passed on his successors. But we do not see, at least not so far, either the willingness or the knowledge as to introduce the necessary measures in order to tackle the issue.
In contrast, we get the feeling that Maduro and his team keep persisting on the economic plan outlined by Chávez, most of all because they don’t know, at least not well enough, how to deal with the situation.
Neither Maduro nor Congress head Diosdado Cabello have ever given a sign that the economy was of their interest while our great economic guru, former Finance Minister Jorge Giordani, who is responsible for this disaster as well, attends meetings with his colleagues having a big smile on his face, like nothing ever happened, like he didn’t have to do with all the measures taken under his tenure all these years.
However, and despite all this, we get the impression that there is some kind of willingness from Maduro to introduce a few fixes to the national economic life. These are barely a few signs, such as his approach to businessmen from private-run companies and the appointment of Nelson Merentes as the “skip of the submarine.”
We are not for sure how the deal is, but we can infer that maybe Maduro is now aware that Chávez’s economic policy is not in the best interest of the country.
The problem here is that we cannot expect anything good from a team in which the two leading members, Maduro and Cabello, are no experts in the economic subject and the “specialist,” namely Giordani, had better kept his hands off that “soup” that is all burnt by now.