Likely devaluation and spending cuts are to curb consumption in Venezuela
Research firm Ecoanalítica estimates that private consumption is to drop 3.7% in 2013
Amidst increased government spending in subsidies and welfare programs, wage raises, as well as lower unemployment and cheap imports, consumption has skyrocketed in 2012. However, a bleak outlook is forecast for 2013.
Analysts believe that the Government will be forced to cut expenses and devaluate the Venezuelan bolivar. Both moves may have a negative impact on people's purchasing power.
A likely reduction of spending would translate into less subsidies, more modest wage raises and economic slowdown. In turn, devaluation would result in imports that are more expensive and boost inflation.
Research firm Ecoanalítica forecast that spending cuts and devaluation would lead to stagflation next year.
According to Ecoanalítica, Venezuelan economy will tumble by 0.5%, with inflation at some 26% and private consumption shrinking by 3.7%.
Basically, Hugo Chávez's administration will have to shorten expenses, as it cannot keep issuing debt at the same pace as in the last two years.
Debt to GDP ratio currently amounts to 50%, more than double in 2008. While still a manageable burden, debt is growing fast amidst high oil prices.
The gap between spending and revenue bridged with debt so far- stands at 11-15% of GDP.
Consequently, it appears that the Government will face economic imbalances with a combination of spending cuts and devaluation, which would increase the amount of bolivars for petrodollars.
Besides the need for more dollars, Venezuela is headed for devaluation due to the overvaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar.
The official exchange rate has remained unchanged at USD 4.30 per US dollar since January 2011, while inflation has exceeded by far that in Venezuela's major trade partners. Consequently, in Venezuela, imported products are cheaper and foreign currency supply has skyrocketed to levels hard to meet.
That political protest in Venezuela has lost momentum seems pretty obvious: people are no longer building barricades to block off streets near Plaza Francia in Altamira (eastern Caracas), an anti-government stronghold; no new images have been shown of brave and dashing protesters with bandanna-covered faces clashing with the National Guard in San Cristóbal, in the western state of Táchira; and those who dreamed of a horde of "Gochos" (Tachirans) descending in an avalanche to stir up revolt in Caracas have been left with no option but to wake up to reality.