Hyperinflation in Venezuela has been spiraling out of control as reports are beginning to surface that the government has given secret permission to Ford to begin selling vehicles in the country for US Dollars. In 2014, automobile production in Venezuela collapsed by 72.5% to 19,759 units, with new vehicle sales crashing by 76% to 23,707 units – as automobile manufacturers were unable to import parts due to the Venezuelan government failing to supply them with US Dollars at the official government manipulated USD/Bolivar exchange rate of 6.28.
In 2002, following a failed military coup to overthrow the Chavez led government and a two-month strike at state-run oil company PDVSA, which led to 19,000 workers leaving the company – the Venezuelan government resorted to printing money to pay its bills. The USD/Bolivar exchange rate, which was then free floating, rose from 0.76 in January 2002 to 1.71 in January 2003 – causing the government to implement currency controls by implementing a fixed USD/Bolivar exchange rate of 1.60. By January 2004, the “black market” USD/Bolivar exchange rate had increased to 2.34 and the government officially devalued the Bolivar to a new manipulated fixed rate of 1.92. By July 2012, the “black market” USD/Bolivar exchange rate had increased to 9.34 vs. an official rate at the time of 4.29.
In August 2012, Venezuelan hyperinflation began to spiral out of control. In March 2013, following the death of Hugo Chavez, the official government USD/Bolivar exchange rate was increased to 6.28 vs. a black market rate at the time of 23.50. Since then, despite the official government rate remaining at 6.28, the black market USD/Bolivar exchange rate has exploded 17-fold in 33 months to a current level of 402.40!
Since 1997, the Venezuelan Bolivar has lost 99.88% of its purchasing power against the US dollar in the black market. On average, the Bolivar has lost 22.98% of its purchasing power every 12 months. Over the last 12 months, the Bolivar has lost a record 82.15% of its purchasing power.
The price of gold has increased from 169 Bolivars in 1997 to a record 478,555 Bolivars today. On average since 1997, gold priced in Bolivars has increased by 61.45% every 12 months. Over the last 12 months, gold priced in Bolivars has increased by a record 420.83%.
The Venezuelan Stock Exchange Index has increased from 27.96 in 2004 to 11,091.85 today. On average since 2004, it has increased by 93.15% every 12 months. Over the last 12 months, the Venezuelan Stock Exchange Index has increased 424.97%. In fact, it has tripled over the past few months from a level of only 3,652.02 in February 2015.
Despite the Venezuelan Stock Exchange Index rising by a total of 39,570.42% since 2004, priced in terms of real money (gold) – investors who bought Venezuelan stocks in 2004 would actually be down 19.8% today. NIA’s ratio of the Venezuelan Stock Exchange Index/Gold in Bolivars X 1,000 has declined from 28.89 in 2004 to 23.13 today.
Stocks have proven to be a strong hedge against Venezuela’s hyperinflation, but gold always ultimately wins as the best inflation hedge.
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