Thursday, June 07, 2007

Old and clueless 

Mary O’Grady, who haunts the Wall Street Journal opinion pages with her weekly “Americas” column, has been obsessed with Venezuela recently. For the most part she has simply re-hashed the old, tired, and false accusations that she has made for years now. It is hardly worth the effort to type of the articles just to critique their silliness.

However, in who article of last Monday entitled “The Young and the Restless” she outdid herself. To save on typing I will simply reproduce one sentence:

Oil prices are high but Venezuelans are no better off than they were eight years ago.

Really? That is simply amazing. Amazing that such clearly uninformed and flatly false statements can make their way into even the opinion pages of what at least used to be a prestigious paper (for those who don’t know the WSJ was gutted last fall when the size of the paper significantly reduced; there is far less quality journalism in its pages and now it is on the verge of being purchased by Rupert Murdoch). I realize it’s the opinion pages but shouldn’t there still be some effort to get basic facts right?

Anyways, on the highly unlikely chance that Ms. O’Grady were to run across this blog here are some charts that she might find enlightening:

Here we have it pointed out that Venezuelans are consuming 32% more today than in 1998. And best of all, it is a capitalist she would love, AC Nielsen, that tells us this, not some lying Chavista government functionary.

And as I know Ms. O’Grady’s heart bleeds for poor people I want to assure her they are doing well too:

She should rest assured, in the past three years the poorer half of Venezuelan society has seen there income go up a whopping 130% in REAL terms.

If only these facts could be brought to Ms. O’Grady’s attention I am sure she would be much kinder to President Chavez in her future articles. I second thought, I doubt that. After all, she gets paid to bash Chavez.

Regardless of how clueless Ms. O’Grady may be others seem to be much better informed. After watching food consumption grow an amazing 18% last year and another 10% in the first quarter of this year, not to mention the success of the governments Mercal food markets, it seems one of the worlds major food retailers wants in on the action:

Meanwhile, state-run Mercal is about to meet with a stronger competitor than it has yet had to deal with. Dutch retailer Makro opened its first Mikro outlet in January, created as a low-price, discount format for the low-income sector. Contrary to Makro, Mikro will be very much a retailer. The intent is to compete with Mercal on its home ground, in low-income neighbourhoods, with up to 100 stores over the next three years. Whether, in fact, Mikro will be able to match Mercal on price we do not know. Its format, though, may also be a draw for customers, as it will be the first appearance in poorer neighbourhoods of a supermarket with a bank, money-exchange house, butcher, and pharmacy, all under one roof a concept that Mercal does not have.

Should Mikro succeed in denting Mercals market dominance, it will inject new life into the Venezuelan private-sector MGR segment, which has been at something of a loss lately about how and where to make its presence felt in a market being increasingly blanketed by Mercal. Mikros discount stores represent the first new food retail outlets to be built in Venezuela for some time.

Poor and working class Venezuelans have seen their purchasing power increase dramatically. That is certainly good for them. Now a Dutch corporation wants to invest in Venezuela and make some money.

One more example of trickle up economics, notwithstanding whatever Ms. O’Grady of the former Wall Street Journal soon to be New York Post says.


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