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IMF: Venezuela inflation will increase 13,000% this year

By Allen Cone
IMF: Venezuela inflation will increase 13,000% this year
A group of people walk in front of a liquor store that was looted in the early hours of the morning in the La Vega sector in Caracas, Venezuela, on December 28, 2017. Residents were protesting shortage of food, medicine, gas and water. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/EPA

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Venezuela's inflation will soar 13,000 percent this year, though other Latin American countries have much better economic prospects, the International Monetary Fund said in a revised forecast Thursday.

The increase -- 130 times greater than last year -- is more than five times the inflation previously projected by IMF.

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Last year, price increases were 2,400 percent -- the biggest in the world.

The IMF wrote in the report that the rise is "fueled by monetary financing of large fiscal deficits and the loss of confidence in the nation's currency."

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President Nicolas Maduro's government has attempted to control inflation by refusing to loosen foreign-exchange controls and price caps that have increased the short supply of all sorts of products, including food to medicine.

Also, Venezuela's real gross domestic product is projected to fall by about 15 percent for a cumulative GDP decline of almost 50 percent since 2013. The growth forecast for 2019 is a 15 percent decline and 6 percent drop in 2019.

"This trend is the result of significant micro-level distortions and macroeconomic imbalances compounded by the collapse in oil exports -- initially from the sharp fall in oil prices in mid-2014 and, more recently, from the collapse in domestic oil production," the IMF said in the report.

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The United States last month sanctioned Venezuela government and military officials accused of having associations with corruption and repression. The Treasury Department said "corruption and repression" has continued to grow under Maduro's regime.

The IMF revised its projections of other nations in Latin America with the GDP predicted to increase 1.9 percent in 2018 and 2.6 in 2019 after it was 1.3 percent last year.

Other Latin Americans in Central America and parts of the Caribbean will benefit from stronger U.S. growth, the report said. And South America's economy has increased due to the end of recessions in Brazil and Argentina, as well as higher prices for the raw materials to export, according to the report.

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"Recent trends in the world economy and financial markets are good news for Latin America," Alejandro Werner, head of the IMF's Western Hemisphere department wrote in the report. "Global growth and trade are on an upswing, and we expect the momentum to continue in 2018. Stronger commodity prices have also helped the region rebound."

The IMF specifically was high on Ecuador after coming off its recession because of higher oil prices and greater acceptance to financial markets. IMF boosted its 2018 GDP outlook to 2.2 percent from 0.6 percent.

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And the IMF cited Chile's growth prospects because of continued improvement in copper prices and business sentiment -- 2.2 percent in 2018.

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Mexico's GDP is predict to grow 2.3 percent in 2018 and 3.0 percent in 2019 on the strength of higher growthin the United States, now pegged higher at 2.7 percent in 2018 and 2.5 percent in 2019.

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