Venezuela is the only petro-state with a debt over 50% of the GDP
Venezuela is back to the indebtedness period of the 1980s
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela's debt by the third quarter of 2012 accounted for 51% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Most petro-states have focused on bringing down their debt, namely Saudi Arabia from 65% of the GDP in 2004 to 5.5% in 2012; Kuwait, from 18.5% to 7%; Iran, from 25% to 11%; Angola, from 54% to 28%; and Nigeria, from 53% to 15%.
It is worth noting that Venezuela's recent devaluation of the bolivar at nearly 46% leads to a heavier burden of the debt as the GDP measured in US dollars drops and in practice more bolivars are required to pay liabilities in US dollars.
Today, Venezuela's debt amounts to 70% of the GDP.
From 1974-1977 and then from 1979-1981, oil prices skyrocketed, bringing high income in turn. Amid high expenditure, the country ended up taking on large debts that resulted in a heavy burden in view of the country's GDP. When oil prices plunged, international banks stopped financing Venezuela and the poverty rate soared.
Similarly, Hugo Chávez's government has raised its debt amid high oil prices, the highest ever seen. Indeed, the Venezuelan oil basket averaged USD 100 per barrel in 2011-2012.
Translated by Jhean Cabrera
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.