Counting the Cost

Behind Venezuela’s looming collapse

We examine how the country fell into economic crisis and ask why nothing is being done to stop Venezuela’s slide.

With dire food shortages, hyperinflation and chronic power outages, Venezuela’s economic crisis has gone “from bad to worse to horrific“.

With oil accounting for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings, plummeting world prices have sent the South American economy reeling towards collapse: People are going hungry, inflation has spiralled out of control, the military is patrolling supermarkets to keep order amid rising anger, basic raw materials and supplies have run out, and factories are shutting down.

According to the World Bank, Venezuela now ranks so low on the list of countries to do business with, it surpasses only Libya, Eritrea and South Sudan.

President Nicolas Maduro has turned to selling Venezuela’s gold. According to the IMF, the country’s gold reserves have dropped almost a third over the past year. So far Maduro has prioritised the payment of international debts to prevent an outright default.

Meanwhile Venezuelans are struggling to feed their children, with an alarming consequence – malnutrition is at an all-time high, with the majority of schoolchildren not receiving the recommended dose of nutrients for healthy growth and function.

Three years after the death of charismatic Hugo Chavez, the popular leader’s Bolivarian Revolution is being blamed for failing Venezuela.

So why is nothing being done to stop Venezuela’s slide? Can Venezuela turn its failing political ideology from attempting to control society into empowering its people to resolve the crisis?

We talk to Ruth Krivoy, the former president of the Venezuelan Central Bank, and Ricardo Hausmann, the director of the Centre for International Development at the Harvard School of Government, about how Venezuela fell into crisis. 

China on top: Forbes Global 2000

The annual list of the world’s largest and most influential companies featured a few surprising names, including American banks in the top 15 – a far cry from the dark days of the credit crisis. Chinese companies – in particular the banks – dominate the top 10, in spite of a “slowing” Chinese economy. 

Technically, China remains a communist country – however, it has clearly embraced capitalism and its continuous economic “balance” is owed, somewhat, to its new relationship with brands as opposed to remaining purely a production powerhouse, as it has been known in the past.

But what is the actual power of a Chinese bank brand and how does this translate – if at all – to an international consumer base? 

We talk to Robert Haigh, the marketing director of Brand Finance, about the real value of a brand in 2016, and what that’s worth to their home countries. 

Also on Counting the Cost:

Cuba: The country is legalising small and medium-sized businesses in order to kick-start the economy – but will Cuban tech entrepreneurs be given the same liberties?

A win-win situation in Vietnam: US President Barack Obama lifts the arms embargo on Vietnam during a three-day visit – but the real partnership begins and ends with trade agreements. 

Monster merger: German Bayer, the world’s second-largest crop chemical producer, has placed the world’s largest ever all-cash bid on Monsanto, the world’s biggest supplier of genetically-modified seed. This has been rejected by Monsanto, but what does a potential future merger mean for the global agriculture industry?