(From Real Clear Markets)
Why, then, has Maduro taken such a suicidal path?
Much has to do with incompetence. Himself a former bus driver, with some courses in agitprop taken in the schools and agencies of communist Cuba as his sole intellectual background, Venezuela’s current leader has little idea of how an economy works. What is more, one could hardly find someone with a proper training in economics among those who assist him in formulating and implementing the country’s economic policy.
Acute as it is, economic incompetence does not explain, by itself, the economic mess in which Venezuela finds itself today. The political risks of overhauling the management of the economy can hardly be overestimated.
Indeed, Maduro has given most of the country’s key economic posts to both high-ranking military officers and key leaders of the Chavista movement with no economics background whatsoever. The reason behind that move seems to be none other than to buy their loyalty: in a country submitted to insane price and foreign-exchange controls as is Venezuela, the scope for government figures to derive a personal profit from bribery and trafficking is immense. According to retired General Cliver Alcala (a critic of the regime), food has become a better business than drugs.