Photo Caption: Venezuelan flag.
Feb 21, 2019.
Commentators speculate that oil is the underlying reason for the current coup attempt orchestrated against Venezuela by the Trump administration, but PBI Chair Ellen Brown adds another possible motive — an intent to kill Venezuela’s public banking revolution. Ellen writes in her latest Truthdig article:
“Rather than bailing out the culprits, as was done in the U.S., in 2009 the government nationalized seven Venezuelan banks, accounting for around 12 percent of the nation’s bank deposits. … Chávez’s government arrested at least 16 bankers and issued more than 40 corruption-related arrest warrants for others who had fled the country. By the end of March 2011, only 37 banks were left, down from 59 at the end of November 2009. State-owned institutions took a larger role, holding 35 percent of assets as of March 2011, while foreign institutions held just 13.2 percent of assets.
“Over the howls of the media, in 2010 Chávez took the bold step of passing legislation defining the banking industry as one of ‘public service.’”
“Venezuela’s problems are not the result of the government issuing money and using it to hire people to build infrastructure, provide essential services and expand economic development. If it were, unemployment would not be at 33 percent and climbing. Venezuela has a problem the U.S. does not, and will never have: It owes massive debts in a currency it cannot print itself, namely, U.S. dollars. When oil (its principal resource) was booming, Venezuela was able to meet its repayment schedule. But when the price of oil plummeted, the government was reduced to printing Venezuelan bolivars and selling them for U.S. dollars on international currency exchanges. As speculators drove up the price of dollars, more and more printing was required by the government, massively deflating the national currency.
“It was the same problem suffered by Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe, the two classic examples of hyperinflation typically raised to silence proponents of government expansion of the money supply before Venezuela suffered the same fate. Professor Michael Hudson, an actual economic rock star who supports MMT principles, has studied the hyperinflation question extensively. He confirms that those disasters were not due to governments issuing money to stimulate the economy. Rather, he writes, “Every hyperinflation in history has been caused by foreign debt service collapsing the exchange rate. The problem almost always has resulted from wartime foreign currency strains, not domestic spending.”