Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No good numbers here 

The Venezuelan Central Bank came out with its year end report. While it is not the very comprehensive report that comes out around May of the following year it does provide some interesting preliminary data. Please keep in mind these numbers are estimates and will change when the final numbers are released in February.

The full report can be read here.

I won't go over the full report but here are the key numbers:

Overall growth for 2009 was a negative 2.9%. Despite what some predicted, Venezuela definitely went into a recession and is likely still in one even as other countries around the world recover.

As stands to reason based on the country having such an overvalued currency, and as I have consistently predicted would happen, the tradables sector got hit the worst with mining down over 10% and manufacturing down 7.2%.

Some commentors would dismiss the above saying that it doesn't matter as the government is concentrating on agriculture.

That may be, but they are clearly failing there too. The sector that includes agriculture grew .1% in 2009. Make sure you read that right - it didn't grow ONE percent, it grew ZERO POINT ONE PERCENT. Clearly agriculture is flat on its back (again likely due to an overvalued currency and insufficient investment among other things) and is not going to rescue the Venezuelan economy.

Consumption fell by 1.8% with private consumption falling by more than that. Brute capital formation (which can maybe be sort of taken as a proxy for investment) fell by 7.6%. Last year it fell by 3.3%. So that is now two years in a row where that is down.

Unemployment averaged .6% higher in 2009 than in 2008. That is probably the least bad number in the entire report.

Imports were down from $49 billion to $38 billion. But exports dropped even more - from $95 billion to $61 billion. So the trade balance, which stayed positive, dropped from a surplus of $37 billion to $12 billion.

BTW, non oil exports were cut in half from $6 billion to $3 billion.

The only important numbers that I couldn't find in the report was on the countries debt. Based on everything we have seen during the year that likely increased sharply.

In sum, not a good year at all for Venezuela. And this with oil actually doing better than predicted. Just goes to show how bad policies can really mess you up.


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