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Oil Cash Waning, Venezuelan Shelves Lie Bare

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CARACAS, Venezuela — Mary Noriega heard there would be chicken.

She hated being herded “like cattle,” she said, standing for hours in a line of more than 1,500 people hoping to buy food, as soldiers with side arms checked identification cards to make sure no one tried to buy basic items more than once or twice a week.

But Ms. Noriega, a laboratory assistant with three children, said she had no choice, ticking off the inventory in her depleted refrigerator: coffee and corn flour. Things had gotten so bad, she said, that she had begun bartering with neighbors to put food on the table.

“We always knew that this year would start badly, but I think this is super bad,” Ms. Noriega said.

Because Venezuela is so dependent on oil sales to buy imports of food, medicine and many other basics, the drop in oil prices means that there is even less hard currency to buy what the country needs.

Even before oil prices tumbled, Venezuela was in the throes of a deep recession, with one of the world’s highest inflation rates and chronic shortages of basic items.

One of the nation’s most prestigious public hospitals shut down its heart surgery unit for weeks because of shortages of medical supplies. Some drugs have been out of stock for months, and at least one clinic performed heart operations only by smuggling in a vital drug from the United States. Diapers are so coveted that some shoppers carry the birth certificates of their children in case stores demand them.

Now economists predict that shortages will get even more acute and inflation, already 64 percent, will climb further. The price of Venezuelan oil dropped this month to $38 a barrel, down from $96 in September.

“Things are going to be even worse because oil keeps Venezuela going,” said Luis Castro, 42, a nurse, standing in line with hundreds of others at a grocery store. He had arrived with his wife and 6-year-old son at 6 a.m., but by 11:30 a.m., they had still not entered. “We’re getting used to standing on line,” he said, “and when you get used to something, they give you only crumbs.”

The shortages and inflation present another round of political challenges for President Nicolás Maduro, who has vowed to continue the Socialist-inspired revolution begun by his predecessor, the charismatic leftist Hugo Chávez.

“I’ve always been a Chavista,” said Ms. Noriega, using a term for a loyal Chávez supporter. But “the other day, I found a Chávez T-shirt I’d kept, and I threw it on the ground and stamped on it, and then I used it to clean the floor. I was so angry. I don’t know if this is his fault or not, but he died and left us here, and things have been going from bad to worse.”


Thousands waited last week to buy basic goods at subsidized prices in Caracas. Those who cheat on rationing risk arrest.  Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Venezuela has the world’s largest estimated petroleum reserves, and when oil prices were high, oil exports made up more than 95 percent of its hard currency income. Mr. Chávez used the oil riches to fund social spending, like increased pensions and subsidized grocery stores. Now that income has been slashed.

“If things are so bad now, I really cannot imagine how they will be in February or March” when some of the lowest oil prices “materialize in terms of cash flow,” said Francisco J. Monaldi, a professor of energy policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Mr. Maduro spent 14 straight days in January traveling the globe in an effort to court investment and persuade other oil-producing nations to cut production and push the price back up.

“We have serious economic difficulties regarding the country’s revenue,” Mr. Maduro said to the legislature during his annual address, which had to be pushed back because of the trip. “But God will always be with us. God will provide. And we will get, and we have gotten, the resources to maintain the country’s rhythm.”

After months of toying with the politically taboo idea of raising the price of gasoline sold at pumps here, the cheapest in the world, he said that the time had finally come to do so.

And he reiterated his position that the country’s economic ills are the fault of an economic war being waged against his government by right-wing enemies.

Many economists argue that government policies are a big part of the problem, including a highly overvalued currency, price controls that dissuade manufacturers and farmers, and government restrictions on access to dollars that have led to a steep drop in imports.

Continue reading the main story Video

Play Video|4:31

Oil Prices’ ‘Spectrum of Pain’

Oil Prices’ ‘Spectrum of Pain’

With the price of crude oil plummeting, why some countries are faring much better than others.

Video by Quynhanh Do on Publish Date January 27, 2015. Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters.

Some investors fear Venezuela will default on billions of dollars in bonds, but Mr. Maduro has said the country will pay its debts.

Typically, in an election year like this one, when voters will choose a new legislature, the government showers supporters with goods, like refrigerators and washing machines, or other benefits, like free housing. But now there may not be enough foreign currency to import appliances and construction materials.

In interviews, shoppers did not say they were going hungry. Rather, many said the economic crisis meant eating canned sardines instead of chicken, or boiled food instead of fried because vegetable oil is so hard to get. Many said they ate meat less frequently because it is out of stock or too expensive. Fresh fish can be harder to find, in part, fishermen said, because they find it more profitable to use their boats to sell subsidized Venezuelan diesel on the black market in a high-seas rendezvous instead of hauling in a catch.

But social media in Venezuela is full of urgent pleas from patients trying to find prescription medicine.

Dr. Gastón Silva, the head of cardiovascular surgery at the University Hospital of Caracas, said that because of medical shortages, only about 100 heart operations were performed there last year, down from 300 or more in previous years.

Some patients who had been hospitalized awaiting surgery for a month or more were sent home in November because there were not enough supplies, and the operating rooms remained shut for more than eight weeks, Dr. Silva said, despite a list of hundreds of people awaiting heart operations.

He said the shortages stemmed from the government’s foreign exchange controls, which have kept medical importers from getting access to the money they need to make purchases abroad. Now with the low price of oil further restricting the government’s supply of hard currency, he worried the crisis would get worse.

“We are getting to a breaking point,” Dr. Silva said. “If one thing is lacking, O.K. If there are no automobile parts, we’ll see. Food, that’s problematic. But health care, that’s more problematic. Where will it end?”

Mr. Silva said that a private clinic where he also works had sharply scaled back heart surgeries in the last four months of 2014 because of limited supplies.

A heart surgeon at another private clinic said that a colleague had smuggled an essential drug from the United States to keep the operating room functioning.

Ana Guanipa, 75, a retired government office worker, said that she had searched numerous pharmacies for her hypertension medicine.

“I’ve been looking all month, and I can’t find it,” she said, adding that a neighbor who takes the same drug gave her some. “I take it one day on and one day off so that it will last longer.”

On a recent morning, hundreds of people stood in line outside a big-box store, similar to Costco. Inside, many shelves were stripped clean. The large appliance and electronics section was empty. One aisle displayed hundreds of boxes of a single brand of toothpaste. There was no fresh meat; a cooler was filled with frozen pigs feet.

Most people came to buy only three items sold at government-mandated prices: laundry detergent, vegetable oil and corn flour.

Every purchase was entered into a database, ensuring that shoppers did not try to buy the same regulated staples at the chain for at least seven days.

Soldiers patrolled the line outside, police officers were stationed inside and government officials checked identification cards, looking for fake ones that could be used to cheat the rationing system — or for immigrants with expired visas. An official from the immigration and identification service said that offenders would be arrested.

“This is pathetic,” said Yenerly Niño, 18, adding that she had waited more than five hours to buy the three subsidized products because she could not afford to buy them at the higher prices charged by street vendors.

“You do what you have to,” she said. “If you don’t do it, you don’t eat.”

New York Times  

37 Comments on "Oil Cash Waning, Venezuelan Shelves Lie Bare"

  1. paulo1 on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:19 am 

    I’ll bet Maduro has chicken and diapers!!

    Those poor people. I only hope the pendelum doesn’t swing too much the other way and that it does not swing in a pool of blood.

    Military coup and some shootings seem likely.

  2. Davy on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:36 am 

    Coming to your neighborhood soon.

  3. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:59 am 

    Right now, they standing in line peacefully, waiting for rationed groceries.

    Once there no groceries at all, and they are genuinely hungry, imagine them all running around screaming, and throwing bricks and lighting stuff on fire. Didn’t happen yet, but it will, thanks to the BAU petroleum society.

  4. Pops on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 8:37 am 

    V has the largest “oil” reserves in the world, doesn’t do them much good if people can’t afford to pay them enough to mine it. Oh it will be mined and V. will be relatively wealthy then, but that is down the road a bit yet.

    But the larger problem is more subtle in the story, much is made of how Mary was “expecting” chicken and how folks are desperate for disposable diapers. I’d wager Mary’s mom never “expected” chicken and never disposed of a diaper in her life; egg layers are too valuable to eat just anytime (and then mostly for seasoning) and when the diapers became too tattered to serve as a diaper they became a washrag.

    I hate to sound cynical, I had chicken last night and my kids have never folded a diaper – that I know of anyway. But I do remember a few times when the only thing in the cupboard was beans and cornmeal and chicken was too much to expect.

  5. Davy on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 8:51 am 

    I remember my brother in cloth diapers in the mid 60’s. I remember my mom fixing meals and you ate what was at the table because there was no shit food for later snacking.

    To bad our trip back in time in the descent will only briefly be in the 50’s & 60’s era lifestyles because those were the good old days. We are going to blow past that era in a year or two.

  6. penury on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 9:16 am 

    Welcome to “Economic War” You may discern a trend concerning which nations are being “punished” the worst by low oil prices, of course to defeat our enemies we must also sacrifice some of our friends. Today it appears to be Mexico’s turn, perhaps tomorrow Canada?

  7. bobinget on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 9:43 am 

    My old lady and I had cloth diapers delivered by
    a jolly, strong, young dyke. Worked fine till we moved to ‘The Farm” .
    There, we needed to heat water and buy detergent. Can a person find detergent in Caracas?

    Another new currency:

    Venezuela isn’t the only suffering oil giants in SA.

    The government depends on Pemex revenue to fund about one third of federal spending. While it says oil exports are hedged at $76.40 a barrel, double the current market price, that doesn’t insure against production declines. Pemex is headed for the worst month of output since 1995, with production falling to 2.235 million barrels a day through Jan. 25, according to preliminary figures, less than the Finance Ministry’s estimate of 2.4 million barrels a day for this year.

    Note: PEMEX headed for worst months of output since 1995
    Simply put, Venezuela’s oil goes to China to repay
    debts only China seems willing to lend.

    Mexico’s hedges run out eventually.

  8. Pops on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 10:06 am 

    This is sorta an example of a comment I made elsewhere:
    The problem isn’t no gas to go the the store,
    it’s no reason to go.

  9. GregT on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 11:36 am 

    If things are already this bad in Caracas, just imagine how bad it must be for all of the dirt poor rural subsistence farmers.

  10. Plantagenet on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 11:42 am 

    This isnt unusual in socialist with countries with communist regimes. It was the same when I visited the USSR —– the stores were essentially empty. North Korea and Cuba aren’t shopping nirvanas either

  11. Speculawyer on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 11:46 am 

    Damn. I feel bad for those poor people. But on the other hand, they chose this government.

    They are in need of serious reform and that will be painful. The starting point should be phasing out the gasoline subsidy which is costly and just allows them to be inefficient.

  12. Perk Earl on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 11:48 am 

    “But the larger problem is more subtle in the story, much is made of how Mary was “expecting” chicken and how folks are desperate for disposable diapers.”

    I fail to see how expecting a chicken in a store when there always has been a chicken in the store is a problem. Maybe if she expected a free chicken I could see that as a problem, but she’s willing to pay for it.

    Also, she’s not suppose to expect disposable diapers (even though they’ve always previously been available in the stores) because in the 50’s-60’s cloth diapers were in wide usage? I don’t follow that logic. Besides are cloth diapers on the store shelf as an option? Is she suppose to use her curtains?

    A woman with 3 kids expecting to find certain things at the store isn’t the problem. It’s that they are no longer available for purchase. The system as it has been established is no longer working in Venezuela and she has every right to be alarmed. She’s probably spending half of her day emotionally unraveling wondering if her children are going to starve.

    The underlying problem isn’t people’s expectations that things be the same as they use to be, but rather living in a country so inept they’ve blown their opportunities to process naturally occurring resources in their country like heavy oil. I read several years ago about Exxon spent billions setting up a process there to refine their thick oil, but then the govt. of V sent them packing due to getting greedy. Maybe if they had been more willing to share the wealth, that oil would have been produced and their country would not be in such dire staits, but that is another story.

  13. dave thompson on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 11:53 am 

    We are all the people, as we are all connected. The disconnect that is expressed by the dominant culture will fall. The price of crude will soon be on the rise.

  14. Richard on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 11:58 am 

    The comments by the leader are just stupid, or the woman herself being ignorant.

    In the end, that is what happens when people believe in superstition and aren’t knowledgeable on the facts.

    Crude is a stable but also an unstable energy to base an entire economy on like when a small change in that energy resource occurs like the shale oil or snake oil.

  15. GregT on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 12:18 pm 

    “Coming to your neighborhood soon.”

    Correct Davy. Some people here are quick to blame governments for the failure of JIT delivery systems. It is those same people that believe governments are here to take care of us. They will be sorely disappointed when our JIT systems also come crashing down. The oil age will end. Whether it is ended voluntarily to salvage what is left of our dying planet for the betterment of future generations, or involuntarily, really doesn’t matter. Those of us that learn how to be more self sufficient, will weather the coming storm better than those of us that believe other people are going to take care of them. Modern industrial society will be looked back upon as a very short blip in history, if there is anyone left to look back.

  16. JuanP on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 12:31 pm 

    Perk “A woman with 3 kids expecting to find certain things at the store isn’t the problem.” I beg to disagree. Ignorant people of average intelligence with unrealistic expectations and an unsustainable amount of children are THE problem.

    I will put in my two cents regarding Venezuelans. I’ve met a large number of them in my life in Miami, and interact with them daily. I don’t care for them in general. They are mostly ignorant, arrogant, pretentious, and superficial. I consider them the second worst South Americans after Argentineans.

    Venezuela has always been a mess, since before it was a country. It used to be a pirate’s den. Corruption is rampant. This is not the current President’s fault. They have the highest gasoline subsidies in the world, a very stupid and ignorant thing to do. They have the least efficient fleet of vehicles in the world, almost everyone down there commutes in an extra large SUV or an outright truck.

    The favorite gift for “Quiceañeras” on their fifteen birthday in Venezuela is a pair of silicone implants for their tits; the lucky ones get them for their butts also, and Botox for their lips, too. Those girls haven’t even fully grown yet The whole society is completely fucked up.

    Venezuela can’t be fixed and won’t be fixed. Anyone who tries to fix it is bound to fail. It is brutally overpopulated and It faces irreversible social, economic, and political decline.

  17. Plantagenet on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 12:40 pm 

    Of course the problems in Venezuela are the current government’s fault. Its a frigging communist country that has instituted socialism—its got the most wacked out economic system in the world outside of North Korea and Cuba.

    The government in Venezuela has screwed things up so badly they can’t even provide enough toilet paper. And a society without toilet paper is a pretty stinky place.

  18. GregT on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 12:57 pm 


    When the US government bailed out the TBTF banks with your taxpayers money, ‘free market capitalism’ died in the USA. You now live in a socialist country. (even if you are separated from the motherland by a thousand miles of bush)

  19. yellowcanoe on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 1:24 pm 

    My step-daughters mother-inlaw traveled to Columbia from Canada to visit relatives recently. Before continuing on to her home in Venezuela she was planning to pickup cheese and other items to bring to family members in Venezuela. The irony is that her home is in the region of Venezuela that produced dairy products and now even there dairy products are almost unobtainable. As I understand it, the Chavez government set a limit on the price that farmers could charge for milk and since they could not make money at that price they simply stopped producing milk.

  20. GregT on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 1:39 pm 

    “Ignorant people of average intelligence with unrealistic expectations and an unsustainable amount of children are THE problem.”

    It’s no wonder that the world is so effed up. The country with the highest average IQ in the world is Singapore, at 108. The average IQs in Canada and the US are 99 and 98 respectively. They say that a democracy requires a well informed citizenry. If our average IQs are less than 100, what does that mean for the 51% that make up the majority?

  21. Plantagenet on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 1:55 pm 


    Thanks for the interesting story. It shows very directly how the moronic economic policies of the prior leftist Chavez regime and the current leftist Maduro regime in Venezuela are directly responsible for the crisis there.

  22. GregT on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 2:01 pm 


    Have you ever stopped to think about why so many farmers in the US have been put out of business?

  23. Pops on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 2:16 pm 

    “I fail to see how expecting a chicken in a store when there always has been a chicken in the store is a problem.”

    Ask Mary.

  24. ghung on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 2:41 pm 

    Great stories, guys. My one glorious contact with Venezuelans was in the 90s when the country was trying to privatize its telecommunications. Various entities were involved (GTE held our contract on design work; trying to build out some sort of functional internet capability), and I ended up in a room for a couple of weeks with two very pragmatic (and typically arrogant) German engineers and a guy that turned out to be nothing more than a pompous bean counter from Caracas, sent by the newly forming “VenWorld Telecom”. It’s an understatement that things didn’t go so well. It took almost all of two weeks to hash out a few design parameters which ended up being what we had proposed 6 months earlier. I saved my ass because I had used my handy pocket voice recorder to record the whole fiasco.

    The Germans walked out several times. A few weeks later we got a nasty letter from Caracas stating our proposal was nothing as had been discussed and agreed upon. My boss freaked out on me, at which time I set the paperwork and the voice recorder on his desk and told him I needed time off. He kissed my ass for months after that, mainly because he was able to get out of the contract citing a “gross inability to work with the clients” (AKA: Venezuelans). I hear their efforts to privatise their telecom system didn’t work out so well either. I got the feeling from the get-go they never wanted it to succeed. It’s a wonder they ever exported any oil at all.

  25. JuanP on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 2:53 pm 

    Plant, If you had bothered to read and understand my comment, you would notice that I never said I approved of Maduro’s or Chavez’s policies. I don’t.

    My wife’s uncle worked as an economist in Venezuela from around 1975 to around 1990. His position there was as an economic advisor to the President of Venezuela. He packed his bags and returned to Uruguay because he was 100% certain, in 1990, that Venezuela would become a failed state before he died and he didn’t want to suffer it. He told me it didn’t matter who came to power, Venezuela was doomed. He still lives, he is very old though. He was right.

    Maduro is not responsible for Venezuela’s situation. Venezuela was damaged beyond repair long before Chavez and Maduro were there to make things worse. I can guarantee you that the next Venezuelan President will be even worse.

  26. Perk Earl on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 3:24 pm 

    “Of course the problems in Venezuela are the current government’s fault.”

    Thanks, Plant for chiming in. People on their own can work together to form an economy but it’s much more powerful if the people running the country manage it correctly, and Venezuela failed. They got greedy about their deal with Exxxon and now their sitting on gold but doing hardly anything with it.

    Look guys, it’s still the oil age. Venezuela should be in the game for however long it’s going to last. In fact, they should be making buko bucks on garbage oil so they can institute solar on all homes and any other renewables they can deploy before all hell breaks loose. Look what Scotland is doing with wind power. Their not waiting for the store shelves to empty, their kicking ass and I give them a lot of credit for doing so. At least they have some power to use when all hell breaks loose.

    The oil age hasn’t ended yet but Venezuela’s govt. has apparently thrown in the towel. I feel sorry for people lining up for food when they could be doing a lot better. It’s not the govt. should hold their hand, but it sure is they work with systems and resources available to maximize return to their people.

  27. Perk Earl on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 3:35 pm 

    On the topic of black gold, texas tea, or Venezuela heavy oil, look at what happened to oil prices today!

    Crude Oil (WTI) USD/bbl. 47.52 +2.99 +6.71% Mar 15 15:57:34
    Crude Oil (Brent) USD/bbl. 52.11 +2.98 +6.07% Mar 15 15:56:48

  28. Plantagenet on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 3:51 pm 

    @Juan P

    I respectfully disagree with you. I think maduro bears a portion of the blame for Venezuela’s current conditions. After all, he is Chavez’s hand-chose successor. And Maduro himself is so stupid that he claims that he still communicates with Chavez after death, when Chavez appears to him as a little bird and sings out that Marudo is going a great job at building socialismo.

  29. Northwest Resident on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 3:54 pm 

    Perk — Don’t know about Brent, but it looks like WTI shot up at the last minute before the close.

    Not like oil prices are being manipulated — no way!


    From ZH:

    We have to start with WTI because that was a fucking joke!!!! This 8.3% ramp into the NYMEX close was the biggest single-day ramp since June 2010…

  30. Makati1 on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:00 pm 

    A preview of America’s future. NO? It can happen in a heartbeat and empty store will be the rule, not the exception. That is a result of our ‘globalization’. Nothing comes from next door. The US eats California veggies and fruits a short part of the year and then imports from the rest of the world the other months. Electronics come from Asia. Clothes from Asia or Central America. Etc. Read the labels when you shop for food, clothes, etc.. You may be surprised where your ‘stuff’ comes from.

  31. redpill on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:32 pm 

    Unreal, and the real pain is yet to come.

    Can only imagine that Columbia and Brazil are prepping for big time border control.

  32. redpill on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 7:46 pm 

    Ah, the plot thickens..

    From Wednesday:
    Venezuela’s No. 2 distances himself from defecting bodyguard
    “The powerful head of Venezuela’s congress moved Wednesday to distance himself from a bodyguard who defected to the United States and reportedly has implicated his former boss as head of drug ring of political and military officials.”;_ylt=AwrSyCW7MMxUWFgAIuHQtDMD

    And then today:
    Venezuela confirms shooting down small plane near Aruba
    “The plane was U.S.-licensed, and 400 drug packages, mostly of cocaine, were found near the wreckage, Aruba officials said on Friday.”;_ylt=AwrSyCW7MMxUWFgADuHQtDMD

    The “rats” seem to be fleeing the “ship”.

  33. dave thompson on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 8:20 pm 

    Hey Peakman yes the price will go back up sooner then later.

  34. FloridaGirl on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 8:35 pm 

    The thing I noticed in the pictures is that the people look pretty well fed. Many are overweight. They are getting food from somewhere. I have the impression they are standing in line for the “almost free” stuff. It amazes me how long people will wait for free/cheap stuff (even if they don’t need it). It’s like the Black Friday sales in the US. I would consider the value of my time standing in line as part of the cost of the product.

  35. Perk Earl on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 8:53 pm 

    I think it’s worse than that florida girl.

    “She hated being herded “like cattle,” she said, standing for hours in a line of more than 1,500 people hoping to buy food, as soldiers with side arms checked identification cards to make sure no one tried to buy basic items more than once or twice a week.”

    Says there from the article she was trying to ‘buy’ basic items. The store shelves are empty. It happens when people panic.

  36. Davy on Fri, 30th Jan 2015 9:18 pm 

    Perk, as you know, this will be a global phenomenon. Nearly all locals rely on a significant portion of their food and basic supplies from the global. Even if a local is supplied from another state that state likely relies on another area to complete that product in a web of interconnection. When that system fails or becomes unreliable food production will be down dramatically from this interconnection disruption. We are talking food insecurity within a year or less.

    What you see in this article is what we are going to see as a templet to be applied to multiple diverse locals. The locations will differ but the same human nature will apply. I can’t fathom the mega cities and their food insecurity situation. How the hell will millions be fed and the waste removed with less energy intensity and decaying complexity????? I do think some cities will fare better than the countryside depending on the level of crisis. This is because cities are where the power resides in many cases. These power bases will triage out other locations to protect the core.

    Most global agriculture is industrial AG so initially until a reset and adaptation to postindustrial AG it may be tough in the countryside. I can imagine power being cut to the countryside. There are so many power lines around here that need constant maintenance just to keep the trees out of them. At some point who is going to pay for that? Many farms will have difficulty operating without power and fuel because that is how they adapted. The old ways remain but that will not generate food surpluses. Around here we can manage for ourselves but forget a big food export without power and fuel.

  37. Perk Earl on Sat, 31st Jan 2015 12:37 pm 

    “What you see in this article is what we are going to see as a templet to be applied to multiple diverse locals. The locations will differ but the same human nature will apply.”

    I completely agree, Davy. Once the networked system no longer works people will stand in long lines and maybe get something or not, until they get so desperate they riot, then the whole shmole breaks down.

    But the collapse hasn’t occurred yet, although many developing countries are having great difficulty and there is very high unemployment in Europe and some other countries.

    The networked system is still up and going, so what the heck happened in Venezuela that things have gotten this bad? Some leader like Chavez dropped the ball by rejecting the deal with Exxon to process their bottom of the barrel non-conventional. They could still be in the game and make good use of the profits to keep their part of the network going and deploy as much renewable while their is time.

    Certainly I have no illusions as to what is coming down the pike once the networked systems go even intermittently down let alone switch off for good.

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