This is the country that was once rich and flourishing with some of the world's largest proven oil reserves devolving into managed anarchy. Sad. This is what socialism, gubmnt control over the economic engine, and blame the rich gets you http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-16/venezuela-post-chavez-hustlers-paradise#r=lr-sr Venuzuela, a country of 30 million, has been in a state of economic bedlam since strongman socialist Hugo Chavez succumbed to cancer a year ago. His successor, former vice president and bus driver Nicolas Maduro, has a penchant for sub sandwiches and the teachings of an Indian spiritual guru with an afro. The stock market is up 483 percent in the past year, largely as people holding depreciating Venezuelan bolivars seek any store of value and traders bet on the end of Chavismo and/or a return to some semblance of capitalistic rule of law. The black market, meanwhile, seems straight out of Mad Max. Last year, the bolivar tanked 73 percent versus the U.S. dollar on the unofficial but prevailing Caracas street exchange rate, a crisis that has spawned hording, looting and dire shortages of food and consumer staples like toilet paper and soap—this for an economy with the world’s #1 oil reserves. Last year there were upward of 24,000 murders in Venezuela, making it one of the bloodiest nations on the planet; a former Miss Venezuela and her husband were recently ambushed and killed in front of their five-year old daughter. Yields on Venezuela’s sovereign debt skyrocketed in the past year to just under 14 percent, tops among 50 emerging markets tracked by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Caracas’s central bank, which also scotched its annual inflation report in November, did issue a year-end report on monthly price changes that blamed an “economic war” led by opposition leaders. It vowed to develop indicators that better reflect the “new economic and social reality in the country.” As for more traditional metrics: annual inflation is currently running above 55 percent, while economic growth slowed to 1.6 percent in 2013 from 5.6 percent the previous year. International reserves have been cut in half since 2008 to approximately $22 billion. Last month, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s slashed Venezuela’s rating to the lowest level in a decade, citing poor economic policymaking. Devaluation looms and a plunge in oil prices could well sound the death knell for whatever post-Chavez order now barely holds. One in five basic goods were out of stock at any given time in the nation, according to the central bank’s last scarcity report in October. It has since stopped providing this data. Caracas, meanwhile, is home to 155 “invaded buildings,” including the infamous Tower of David, an abandoned, gangster-squatted skyscraper that was immortalized in the latest, must-miss season of Homeland. Flourishing cross-border price-gouging is taking place between Venezuela and its neighbor Colombia: you can buy government-regulated staples like rice at 6.3 bolivars to the dollar and sell them at ten times that ratio. Bloomberg News recently reported that Guajira Indians with dual nationality and exemption from border controls camp outsize Venezuelan markets ahead of deliveries, horde anything they can and either mule the goods to Colombia or partner with gangsters in trucks (with plenty of bribe money) to offload them at the black market exchange rate. And so average Venezuelans in cities like Caracas and Maracaibo drive hours over the border in search of rice and toilet paper at 10 times what they would pay at home—if there was anything on the shelves.