Thursday, February 16, 2006

Its official 

For a while now the 9.4% growth GDP growth number for Venezuela has been thrown around. But that was always an estimate, the real numbers had yet to be released. Today the Venezuelan Central Bank released the real numbers and the estimate turned out to be darn close - the real number is 9.3% growth. And while that may seem to be a little less than what was estimated it actually masks what is very good news - that Venezuela's economy was growing 10.4% in the fourth quarter. That is it accelerated as the year drew to a close. Hopefully momentum will carry over into this year.

Rather than go through all the numbers, which have been analyzed before, let me just give them as Bloomberg summarized them:

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela's economy grew for a ninth quarter in the October-through-December period as increased government spending fueled consumer demand, the central bank said.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of a country's production of goods and services, expanded 10.2 percent in the fourth quarter from the year-earlier period, the central bank said in a statement. The economy grew 9.3 percent last year, less than the bank's initial estimate in December of 9.4 percent.

``All the factors are in place for many years of real growth,'' Armando Leon, one of seven central bank directors, told reporters in Caracas yesterday. ``We expect the economy to grow 5 or 6 percent this year.''

Government spending rose 38 percent during the first 10 months as President Hugo Chavez drew on record oil income to fund health, food and education programs. The economy grew 18 percent in 2004 after contracting 7.7 percent in 2003 and 8.9 percent in 2002.

The oil industry grew 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter while non-oil GDP grew 11 percent, the bank said.

Construction expanded 28.5 percent and manufacturing jumped 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter, the bank said.

The surplus of the current account, the broadest measure of a country's trade in goods and services, grew to $6.4 billion in the fourth quarter from $3.6 billion in the year-ago period, the bank said. The current account surplus for 2005 rose 84 percent to a record $25.4 billion

The capital account, which measures investment flows, had a deficit of $6.2 billion in the fourth quarter, the highest level since the bank began reporting quarterly balance of payment figures in 1997. The capital account deficit for 2005 was $16.2 billion, also a record.

If there is a negative in there I sure can't find it. And judging by this neither can most Venezuelans.


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