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Venezuela central bank publishes official figures for the first time in years


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Venezuela central bank publishes official figures for the first time in years

After a three-year statistical blackout, Banco Central De Venezuela published several key economic indices on May 28 that confirm the severe economic meltdown that had been anticipated by local and foreign institutions, and by the government's opposition.

Throughout several reports, official figures pointed to inflation of 130,000% in 2018, along with a 22.5% GDP contraction for the 12-month period that ended in October of that year. Thus, 2018 marked the fifth year in a row of economic contraction, and contributed most heavily to the drop in economic output, accounting for more than 50% of accumulated deterioration since 2014.

Additionally, the latest figure for the consumer price index shows spiraling inflation is still far from being steered for 2019. As of April, it has risen by 282,972.8% year over year.

The central bank also noted a crumbling of its main export, oil, which accounts for about 90% of Venezuelan products and services sold overseas. Income from oil exports fell by 6.68% to $29.81 billion in 2018. In 2012, before Nicolás Maduro was elected president, Venezuela tapped about $93.57 billion in oil exports, according to the released figures.

As for international banking reserves, the official number released for late 2018 was $8.84 billion, down from $9.67 billion the year before and $29.89 billion at the end of 2012.

Since Maduro took office in 2013, the regulator had been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to produce realistic figures in order to avoid sanctions and to secure possible sources of financing.

The bank had stopped publishing economic data in 2016, but sent key figures to the IMF in November 2018 to avoid being expelled from the multilateral agency. The latest inflation figures released, however, are well below IMF and private inflation estimates, which pointed to an increase in prices of more than 1,000,000% for 2018.

Some of the figures reviewed from the central bank's own reports show inconsistencies. (While 130,000% inflation is inferred from a month-per-month basis spreadsheet, a separate string of data provided by the bank states that yearly inflation came to about half that amount, at 65,374%).