Venezuela’s economy is in shambles and the country has plunged into political chaos. The dysfunction is so great that basic economic data has been hard to come by.
On Tuesday, for the first time in three years, the Central Bank of Venezuela published statistics on the country’s battered economy. The bank’s records show that in the third quarter of 2018, gross domestic product contracted a shocking 22.5% over the prior year.
Bank records showed that the country’s GDP has been in decline since the start of 2014 — contracting 52% between the third quarter of 2013 and the third quarter of 2018. That means the size of Venezuela’s economy was reduced by half in a span of five years.
Price inflation is out of control in Venezuela. The inflation rate hit 130,060% in 2018, according to the new data.
Runaway inflation has decimated Venezuela. As the value of money and wages has become worth less and less, the despair on the population has deepened.
The inflation rate revealed Tuesday was the highest in Venezuela’s recent history. It was lower than previous reporting from the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which calculated the figure at almost 1,700,000%.
In contrast to both, the International Monetary Fund estimated that last year, Venezuela’s inflation was 929,797%. In the United States, by comparison, inflation hovered around 2% last year.
The Central Bank of Venezuela data also highlighted a huge drop in oil exports — which has decimated an economy heavily reliant on the sale of oil on the world markets. In 2013, the country exported about $85 billion worth of oil. That number fell to $35 billion in 2015 and $30 billion last year.
Venezuela has more oil reserves than any other nation. But production has collapsed following years of underinvestment and the country’s current crisis. The fall in oil production occurred before the United States announced sanctions against the Venezuelan oil industry earlier this year. Shipments to the United States, long Venezuela’s leading customer, have since vanished.
The reports appeared to confirm earlier research by the IMF and the World Bank that have chronicled the collapse of the Venezuelan economy.
The central bank did not announce the data release in advance, and the government of embattled President Nicolás Maduro has not commented on why the figures were released or the data itself.
– CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon, Tatiana Arias and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.