Venezuela default almost inevitable, say Reinhart and Rogoff

Guy Bentley
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Venezuelan default only a matter of time (Source: Getty)

Venezuela will almost certainly default on its foreign debt, according to Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

They add that the beleaguered Latin American economy has already defaulted on "every conceivable kind of domestic debt".

The world-renowned economists wrote that the Venezuelan economy had been so badly mismanaged by the socialist government that GDP per capita was two per cent below 1970 levels despite a ten-fold increase oil prices.

Furthermore, Venezuela's debt is the riskiest on the world, yielding 15.42 percentage points, according to JPMorgan.

Writing in Project Syndicate, Reinhart and Rogoff, said:

Given that the government is defaulting in numerous ways on its domestic residents already, the historical cross-country probability of an external default is close to 100 per cent.

Venezuela has been running short of basic goods like toilet paper, soap and cooking oil for over a year. Strict currency controls, and a shortage of US dollars have hammered consumers' ability to get imported goods.

The warning comes after fellow Harvard economists Ricardo Hausmann and Miguel Angel Santos wrote that Venezuela should consider defaulting given its rapidly rising arrears to importers.

Venezuela's policies have fueled 63 per cent annual inflation and crippled wages. Since President Nicolás Maduro came to power 18 months ago, the poverty rate soared 32 per cent at the end of last year from a record 25 per cent in 2012, according to the National Statistics Institute.

In 2013, Venezuela recorded 25,000 murders, five times the amount seen in 1998. According to the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World Index, Venezuela now ranks as the world's least economically free nation.

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