Counting the Cost

Chavez: The end of a socialist revolution?

How will the leader's death affect Venezuela's economy and did his charisma and petrodollars paper over a weak economy?
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2013 14:01

As Venezuela mourns its former president Hugo Chavez, we look at his legacy and exactly where the billions of dollars in oil money ended up. And where will the nations which benefited from his largesse go now?

Chavez was seen as a man who courted all sorts of attention but certainly fought the corner of the poor, in lifting their standards of living, mostly on the back of a global oil boom.

During his time in power, Venezuela earned almost $1 trillion, according the Hoover Institute. And many countries in the region have depended on Chavez's generous economic aid, which was funded by Venezuela's oil reserves.

So with Chavez gone, will this aid hold up? And where did that money come from?

Anytime Chavez's legacy is discussed, the issue of oil comes up. A look at exactly what the price of oil had done during the Chavez years shows not that it was all because of Hugo Chavez, rather, it shows just how much he benefited from oil.

On the day Hugo Chavez took office in February 1999, oil was around $30 a barrel and by the day he died, it was $111, after a peak of around $140 a barrel during the 2008 financial crisis.

This illustrates how Hugo Chavez funded Venezuela's rise.

Stalemate in Italy

Following the elections in Italy, there has been a political stalemate in the country, giving way to fears that it may unravel the Euro crisis again. And a return to a technocrat government has been mooted by even the president.

But Beppe Grillo, the leader of the  Five Star Movement, w ill not back such an administration. The comedian-turned-activist has also resisted calls to form a coallition government, which indicates that Italy has got some problems.

So how would Grillo best solve them?

And the EU has been pretty steadfast in its demand that nations persist with austerity measures. Following this latest voter dissaproval, things may be about to change.

But then you have got small creditor nations like Finland, demanding a greater say in how their money is being used.

Al Jazeera's Stephen Cole sat down with Finland's Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, and asked him how closely he was watching the political situation in Italy.

The debate about Europe's failings goes much further than debt and deficits - it is about competitiveness, productivity and flexible labour markets.

Now just how productive French workers are came to the fore in the last few weeks. France requested help from Titan International, a US tire maker, to save a rival's plant.

But Maurice Taylor, the company's CEO responded: "The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. I told the French union workers this to their faces. They told me that's the French way!"

There have been protests as more jobs go on the line - mass-market automakers are struggling with a continent in recession. Peugeot is slashing 11,000 workers and rival Renault as many as 8,000.

And it looks like Boeing's Dreamliner will be spending a lot more time on the ground. An interim report from the National Transportation Safety Board is out and it says further investigation is needed before the aircraft can fly again.

They still do not know what caused those battery fires on board the planes.

China's African ambition

China has been investing big in Africa - worth about $20bn worth. But you need people to work on big, ambitious projects - preferably skilled, cheap labour.

In a bid to turn their fortunes around, hundreds of Chinese men are opting to leave poverty in rural China and going to employment agencies that can help them find jobs in underdeveloped African countries.

Africa may be a long way away but some hope that working for Chinese employers will make things a little easier and offer them a chance to benefit directly from Chinese investments abroad.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali



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