Venezuela’s bizarre system of exchange rates..

Don’t know what it is with Latam economies. They just find ways to mess up. Venezuela has been messed up for a while though.

Emiliana Disilvestro and David Howden have this interesting piece on multiple exchange rates (4) running in the country. I mean most emerging economies struggle to maintain one exchange rate, imagine 4:

Currently there are four exchange rates: First is the official one, called CENCOEX, and which charges 6.30 bolivars to the dollar. It is only intended for the importation of food and medicine.

The next two exchange rates are SICAD I (12 bolivars per dollar) and SICAD 2 (50 bolivars per dollar); they assign dollars to enterprises that import all other types of goods. Because of the fact that US dollars are limited, coupons are auctioned only sporadically; usually weekly in the case of SICAD 1 and daily for SICAD 2. However, due to the economic crisis, no dollars have been allocated for these foreign exchange transactions and there hasn’t been an auction since August 18, 2015. As of November 2015, the Venezuelan government held only $16 billion in foreign exchange reserves, the lowest level in over ten years, and an amount that will dry up completely in four years time at the current rate of depletion.

The last and newest exchange rate is the SIMADI, currently at 200 bolivars per dollar. This rate is reserved for the purchase and sale of foreign currency to individuals and businesses.

There are many problems in Venezuela as a result of this complex system. The most obvious is the near impossibility to actually get assigned to these rates due to the complex bureaucratic process one must navigate to apply for them. In response to these difficulties, Venezuelans must rely on the black market to meet their demands for foreign currency. Therefore, people naturally rely on the black market rate, which although it is much less advantageous (at 900 vs. anywhere from 6.3 to 200 bolivars per dollar on the “official” market), at least offers the possibility to procure the much needed foreign exchange.

The economic implications are obvious..

 

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