Appearances deceive in Venezuela
By our calculations, had import volumes remained at their 2012 levels, overall GDP would have contracted by 3.5%. Worse still, had Q4 import volumes mirrored their year-earlier levels, real GDP would have dropped by a startling 9.4%. The government has pledged to address shortages by increasing the disbursements of US dollars available for purchase this year, but this will increase import volumes. Assuming that oil production continues to fall, the external sector will drag badly on overall GDP. With Maduro under increasing pressure to meet protestors' demands, it appears that there is no end in sight to Venezuela's economic woes.
Simon Baptist, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Chief Economist