More than half of Aussie men report experiencing sexual difficulties

Many men were concerned about climaxing too quickly or lacking interest in sex.Krista MangulsoneOne in two Australian men aged 18 to 55 have experienced sexual difficulty in the past 12 months, accord...

Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University - avatar Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Sanders, Harris, Biden... can anyone beat Donald Trump to become the next US president?

No sooner had the US midterm elections for Congress concluded than jockeying began for the presidential elections in 2020. Barring either impeachment, which seems unlikely, or a health crisis, Donald ...

Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University - avatar Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University

As many Muslims return to mosques today, they will need ongoing support

A worshipper lights candles at a makeshift memorial at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.AAP/Mick Tsikas, CC BY-SAToday, many Muslims in New Zealand will be returning for Friday prayers. Some might f...

Fatima Junaid, Lecturer, Massey University - avatar Fatima Junaid, Lecturer, Massey University

'It's real to them, so adults should listen': what children want you to know to help them feel safe

Children and young people told us they were often overwhelmed by the risks that surrounded them.from shutterstock.comIn recent months, we have been confronted by events that make the world seem unsafe...

Tim Moore, Associate Professor and  Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia - avatar Tim Moore, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia

A brief history of science writing shows the rise of the female voice

Women played a role as both readers and authors in the history of science writing.Shutterstock/Africa StudioThree centuries ago, when modern science was in its infancy, the gender disparity in educati...

Robyn Arianrhod, Adjunct Associate , School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University - avatar Robyn Arianrhod, Adjunct Associate , School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

Cannibalism helps fire ants invade new territory

Fire ant stings can be deadly to people who have an allergic reaction to their venom.Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr, CC BY-SATropical fire ants (Solenopsis geminata), originally from central and South Am...

Pauline Lenancker, PhD student in biology and ecology, James Cook University - avatar Pauline Lenancker, PhD student in biology and ecology, James Cook University

We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

Australia’s Fairwork Commission has so far this year examined more than a dozen cases of wage theft. Those cases involve hundred of workers and millions of dollars in underpayments.And it’...

Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne - avatar Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Jobs but not enough work. How power keeps workers anxious and wages low

The unemployment rate is 4.9%, but the underemployment rate is 8.1%ShutterstockThis is the third in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation...

Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor University of South Australia, University of South Australia - avatar Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor University of South Australia, University of South Australia

What Parkland's experience tells us about the limits of a 'security' response to Christchurch

In the days before the mass shootings in Christchurch I was visiting Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018. I was recording a story about ho...

Amanda Tattersall, Postdoc in urban geography and Research Lead at Sydney Policy Lab. Host of ChangeMakers Podcast., University of Sydney - avatar Amanda Tattersall, Postdoc in urban geography and Research Lead at Sydney Policy Lab. Host of ChangeMakers Podcast., University of Sydney

Friday essay: images of mourning and the power of acknowledging grief

These images of Cherine Fahd's grandfather's funeral were tucked away in a brown paper envelope for decades. As a society, we too often keep grief hidden from view. Author providedBefore her death in...

Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney

Local Māori urge government to address long-running dispute over rare cultural heritage landscape

Supporters of the campaign to stop commercial development at Ihumaatao.Qiane Matata-Sipu , CC BY-SAAn escalating crisis at Ihumaatao, near Auckland’s airport, is challenging the commercial devel...

Tim McCreanor, Professor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University - avatar Tim McCreanor, Professor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University

Grattan on Friday: Shorten's not getting ahead of himself, but the tape measure is out

With the election likely to be called in about a fortnight – the weekend after the April 2 budget - behind the scenes Labor is “measuring the curtains” of government.Any sign of hubr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Will the New Zealand gun law changes prevent future mass shootings?

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on certain military-style weapons.AAP/David AlexanderAs she foreshadowed in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre last Friday, New Ze...

Rick Sarre, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia - avatar Rick Sarre, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia

NSW election: where do the parties stand on brumby culling?

Feral horses have severely damaged the landscape in Kosciuszko National Park.Travelstine, CC BY-SAThe future management of New South Wales’s national parks is one of the issues on the line in Sa...

Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University - avatar Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University

Confused about aged care in the home? These 10 charts explain how it works

Home care providers' profits are growing but many older Australians are missing out on quality care.The Conversation / ShutterstockThis week, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hea...

Fron Jackson-Webb, Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor - avatar Fron Jackson-Webb, Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor

Jobs but not enough work. How power keeps workers anxious and wages low

The unemployment rate is 4.9%, but the underemployment rate is 8.1%ShutterstockThis is the third in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

Australia’s Fairwork Commission has so far this year examined more than a dozen cases of wage theft. Those cases involve hundred of workers and millions of dollars in underpayments.And it’...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

A new procedure may preserve fertility in kids with cancer after chemo or radiation

A 12-week-old baby female macaque, named Grady, was born from frozen testicular tissue. Oregon Health and Science University, CC BY-SACancer in children was often a death sentence in decades past, but...

Kyle Orwig, Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh - avatar Kyle Orwig, Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

March Madness: With gambling legal in eight states, who really wins?

The odds of more legal betting are good. AP Photo/John LocherMarch means springtime, but also breathless headlines of Cinderellas, busted brackets and buzzer beaters. This year, it’ll also inclu...

John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, Pennsylvania State University - avatar John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, Pennsylvania State University

Will more genetically engineered foods be approved under the FDA's new leadership?

Will food laws change as more GM foods are created?Zerbor/Shutterstock.comThe world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug...

Ana Santos Rutschman, Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University - avatar Ana Santos Rutschman, Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University

We need more teachers of color, so why do we use tests that keep them out of the classroom?

Teacher license exams often fail to predict which teachers will be the best, research shows.michaeljung from shutterstock.comStudents of color seldom see teachers who look like them. This is because m...

Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor, Michigan State University - avatar Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Niger has the world's highest birth rate – and that may be a recipe for unrest

While fertility levels have declined rapidly in most parts of the world, many countries in the sub-Saharan African region of the Sahel have seen their reproductive rates go down very slowly, and only ...

John F. May, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University - avatar John F. May, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University

Nuns were secluded to avoid scandals in early Christian monastic communities

Margareta, head of the women's community at Lippoldsberg (in modern-day Germany) clasps hands with an Augustinian monk as he hands her a book.Lippoldsberg Evangeliary. Kassel, Landesbibliothek, MS the...

Alison I. Beach, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University - avatar Alison I. Beach, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University

Imagine going to the store and finding that nothing has a price tag on it. Instead you take it to the cashier and they calculate the price. What you pay could be twice as much, or more, than an hour earlier. That’s if there is even anything left in stock.

This is the economic reality that underpins Venezuela’s current “political crisis” – though in truth that crisis has been going on for years.

The government headed by Nicolás Maduro, who has presided over Venezuela since 2013, declared a state of emergency in 2016. That year the inflation rate hit 800%. Things have since gone from bad to worse.

By 2018 inflation was an estimated 80,000%. It’s difficult to say what the rate is now, but Bloomberg’s Venezuelan Cafe Con Leche Index, based on the price of a cup of coffee, suggests it is now about 380,000%.

About 3 million Venezuelans – a tenth of the population – have fled the country. This is the largest human displacement in Latin American history, driven by shortages of everything including food as well as the Maduro regime’s oppressive treatment of dissent.

Read more: Venezuela is fast becoming a 'mafia state': here's what you need to know

No wonder, then, that Maduro, who has just begun his second term as president, is now under considerable domestic and international pressure to call new elections.

So how did things get so bad? How did inflation become hyperinflation in Venezuela? And how do Venezuelans deal with it?

Venezuelans living in Santiago, Chile, protest against the regime of of Nicolás Maduro on February 2. A huge diaspora of Venezuelans is now spread throughout Latin America. Alberto Valdes/EPA

The cost of goods and the value of currency

What we pay for goods and services reflects not only their cost of production but also of the value of the currency we buy them in. If that currency loses value against the currency the goods are sold in, the price of those goods goes up.

By 2014 the value of Venezuela’s currency, the bolívar, and the prosperity of the Venezuelan economy, was highly dependent on oil exports. More than 90% of the country’s export earnings came from oil.

These export earnings had enabled the government headed by Hugo Chavez from 1999 to 2013 to pay for social programs intended to combat poverty and inequality. From subsidies for those on low incomes to health services, the government’s spending obligations were high.

Then the global price of oil dropped. Foreign demand for the bolívar to buy Venezuelan oil crashed. As the currency’s value fell, the cost of imported goods rose. The Venezuelan economy went into crisis.

The solution of Venezuela’s new president Nicolas Maduro, who succeeded Chavez in March 2013, was to print more money.

The sign in a store in Cucuta, the Colombian-Venezuelan border, reads: ‘We do not accept bolívares, only Pesos. Schenyder Mendoza/EPA

That might seem silly, but it can keep the economy moving while it gets over a hump caused by a short-term price shock.

The Venezuelan crisis, however, just got worse as the oil price continued to fall, compounded by other factors that reduced Venezuelan oil output. International investors began looking elsewhere, driving the value of the bolívar even lower.

Read more: Curious Kids: why don’t poorer countries just print more money?

In these conditions, printing more money simply made the problem worse. It added to the supply of currency, pushing the value down even further. As prices rose, the government printed more money to pay its bills. This cycle is what causes hyperinflation.

Playing the currency market

Circumstances like these quickly make saving money in the local currency nonsensical. To protect themselves, Venezuelans started to convert their savings into a more stable currency, like the US dollar. This lowered the value of the bolívar even further.

The government responded by issuing currency controls. It set a fixed exchange rate, to stop the official value of the bolívar dropping against the US dollar, and made it difficult to actually get permission to exchange bolívares into US dollars. The idea was to stabilise the currency by effectively shutting down all currency transactions.

US dollars were still available on the black market, however. This meant going to any number of operators on the streets of downtown Caracas or asking some friend or to hook you up. As the crisis deepened, more and more Venezuelans looked to switch their bolívares into US dollars.

By mid-2018 the official foreign exchange rate was about 250,000 bolívares to one US dollar. shutterstock

This increasing demand meant the black market price for greenbacks rose, creating a difference between the official exchange rate (set by the government) and the unofficial going rate.

With this came new opportunities. In 2014 reports emerged that groups of middle-aged women were crossing the border to use ATMs in Colombia. They could withdraw funds from their Venezuelan accounts as US dollars at the official rate. They could then cross back into Venezuela and exchange the dollars for bolívares at the unofficial rate, making a tidy profit. Government officials able to exchange bolívares for US dollars within Venezuela had their own version of this practice.

This pushed the price of US dollars up, and that of bolívars down, even more. As the crisis deepened increasing numbers of ordinary Venezuelans began to engage in the unofficial currency market.

Sometimes this took the form of taking subsidised Venezuelan goods like food across the border to sell. This earned the sellers foreign currency, but it also exacerbated shortages of goods within the country, driving prices up even further.

This does not mean Venezuela’s currency crisis is the fault of ordinary Venezuelans. Illegal economic activity is largely a coping mechanism, a bellwether of the actual economy’s ability to provide for people. When a government fails its responsibilities, it should be no surprise that people protect themselves through unofficial currency trading. This is exactly what big international investors do all the time, albeit through more official channels.

A street kid uses now worthless currency to make handicrafts to sell in the streets of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital. The currency was changed from the ‘Bolívares Fuertes’ to the ‘Bolívares Soberanos’ in August 2018. Miguel Gutierrez/EPA

Cannot be trusted

By August 2018 the Venezuelan currency was worth so little that it was more prudent to use cash for toilet paper rather than buy toilet paper.

The government tried to get on top of this situation by issuing a currency devaluation. Maduro devalued the bolívar by 95%, the largest currency devaluation in contemporary world history. He also tied the new currency to the price of oil, an economic experiment designed to show the Venezuelan economy had solid foundations.

By bringing the bolívar’s value into line with the reality of what people actually thought it was worth, and showing it was backed by something valuable, oil, Maduro’s government hoped Venezuelans would believe in their own currency and not exchange it for dollars. This would help stabilise the economy overall.

But within weeks of the devaluation it was clear ordinary Venezuelans had not been convinced.

They had no reason to be, given the government was not addressing other issues, such as policies contributing to low productivity across the economy. The government’s increasing authoritarianism, including interfering with the constitution and elections, also signalled it was not to be trusted.

Read more: Is authoritarianism bad for the economy? Ask Venezuela – or Hungary or Turkey

Hyperinflation is a very difficult hole out of which to climb. Very few economies ever experience it, and it’s hard to stop it without massively cutting government spending.

It is easy, then, to see why millions of Venezuelans responded by dealing in the black market or taking their savings, and themselves, out the country altogether.

As the political crisis in the country deepens, Venezuelans will have to continue to seek ways to allow them to survive the storm any way they can.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/what-caused-hyperinflation-in-venezuela-a-rare-blend-of-public-ineptitude-and-private-enterprise-102483