Published On: Mon, Aug 15th, 2016

Venezuela turns to the ‘Jesus Christ of economics’ for salvation

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in CaracasCARACAS - As Venezuela grapples with an economic and political meltdown, President Nicolas Maduro has turned for guidance to an obscure Marxist professor from Spain, who the president describes as 'the Jesus Christ of economics’.

Officials in the ruling party told The Wall Street Journal that the economist, Alfredo Serrano, has pushed for more state controls on manufacturing and food supply (as opposed to pursuing more orthodox methods like freeing the currency), and that has "largely shaped the president's response to the country's economic crisis."

Maduro also plans to 'talk up' the price of oil to $70, a result that could seemingly only be achieved with divine intervention in the face of increasing global production and falling demand.

He is reportedly calling oil ministers in OPEC and non-OPEC countries to talk about cutting production, while Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran have reported near record output over the past several months.

Venezuela’s oil production, on the other hand, has been declining for years, falling from 3.3 million barrels a day in 1997 to about 1.9 million barrels a day in 2016.

While Venezuela holds the world’s largest known oil reserves, it cannot afford to produce the oil it needs to sell in an economy that has plunged into a deep recession and fast running out of cash even to feed its own citizens or keep the lights on in its major cities.

Venezuela is the world's worst-performing economy this year. Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank estimate that the country's gross domestic product will shrink by about 10% in 2016. And the IMF recently forecast that consumer-price inflation could hit 480% this year and climb to a mind-blowing 1,640% in 2017.

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