Monday, February 13, 2006

Economic notes 

On the political front things have been quiet in Venezuela. Chavez is immensley popular, the Assembly is full of like minded people thanks to the opposition's brilliant strategy of boycotting the election, and the opposition is in disarray with its main political party, Primero Justicia, unable to do something as simple as organizing primaries to choose its leadership.

Of course, there is a very simple reason for the quiet that reigns in Venezuela - its booming economy. The basics of that are at this point well known. But in the past few days yet more statistics have come out that I thought I'd pass along.

First, the unemployment rate continues to drop and jobs created. The unemployment rate in the second half of 2003 was 16.8%. By the second half of 2005 it had dropped to 11.9%. Certainly a very significant improvement. Unemployment is dropping because jobs are being created by the hundreds of thousands. In the second half of 2005 222,501 new private sector jobs were created while 71,155 public sector jobs were created. 86,925 of those new jobs were in construction while 45,724 were in manufacturing.

Secondly, the international financial community is taking notice of the Venezuelan boom with Venezuela's credit rating increasing from B+ to BB. This may be a rather arcane item but it does mean Venezuela pays less interest on its debt so it does have a real benefit for the country.

Lastly, in 2005 Venezuela had a record year for auto sales at well over 200,000 being sold. So 2006 has no where to go but down, right? Wrong. In January 2006 90% more cars were sold than in January 2005. Unreal. Where the hell are they going to put all those things. And now the mystery of why no-one shows up to opposition political rallies is solved - they're all out car shopping.


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