Venezuela: No help from OPEC before the elections, hard times ahead

On Friday, 4 December OPEC decided to forgo an artificial - and rarely upheld - ceiling on crude oil output and maintain current crude oil production volumes, even as markets brace for an increase of Iranian oil in global markets.

The decision by OPEC left Venezuela - one of the members of the cartel most seriously affected by the decline in oil prices - without any hope for improvement in external economic conditions right before the elections. And what a historic elections these were, with the opposition winning the majority of seats in the National Assembly for the first time since the late President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999. Venezuela is struggling with the worst crisis in decades, a harsh reality for the President's party in the lead up to the elections. Many Venezuelans, faced with chronic shortages and triple-digit inflation, wonder how their country, an OPEC member with more oil than Saudi Arabia, has made them feel so poor.

In general, the national economy has followed a path reminiscent of its performance during the 1980's oil glut, however, based on a number of indicators, the current situation looks worse.

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