Tag Archives: prices

Venezuela ditches the US dollar and prices its oil in Chinese yuan

President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has made good on his promise to forsake the US dollar and publish their oil prices in yuan, which is the currency of China.

This highly controversial move is likened to Venezuela giving the US “the middle finger”.

Former Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez has threatened this move for over 14 years, but Maduro made good on the promise in early September 2017.

While Maduro’s brazen move was done as an act of standing up to the United States government since they did not support him on his quest to dictatorship, Chavez’s motives were based purely on the fact that he felt that the US dollar would someday lose its place in the global currency ranking.

Venezuela US dollar oil price Chinese yuan

Many view Venezuela’s choice to price its oil in yuan as all bark and no bite since prior to Maduro’s announcement, it was rumoured that they would favour the Euro instead. Whilst the US is on a path to force Maduro to end his campaign to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, it is highly unlikely that China would assist, which makes the switch to pricing in yuan a very safe one for Venezuela. It must also be noted that Venezuela borrowed approximately $60 billion from China in exchange for selling oil at a discounted price to the Asian powerhouse.

Venezuela’s energy sector and by extension it’s economy is currently a disaster. The countries state-run oil company, PDVSA is travelling downhill.

The oil that is to be used to pay back the $60 billion debt is not being produced since according to OPEC, Venezuela’s oil production has been on a decline over the past few years, from 2, 375 barrels per day in 2015, to 2, 159 barrels per day in 2016. Production fell further in 2017, with an average of 2, 057 barrels per day in the first quarter and dipping to a low of 1, 918 barrels per day in August. These figures contradict the countries massive oil reserves, which are reported as the biggest in the world.

On the Transparency International’s corruption scale, Venezuela is ranked as 166 out of 176 countries. That fact speaks for itself. While the government continues to attempt to take shots at the US sanctions, the people of Venezuela are the ones suffering since they are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, with intensifying food and medicine shortages.


Potato chip prices spike in Japan due to panic buying

Prices of popular brands of potato chips in Japan surged as much as six times the retail price after the country’s two major snack companies announced a sales halt due to a potato shortage.

The halt reportedly came as a result of a poor potato harvest following typhoons and flooding, which hit Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido last August. The region provides nearly 80 percent of the country’s potatoes.

Potato chip prices spike in Japan due to panic buying

Shipments of potatoes harvested last year dropped 10 percent compared to 2015, according to the Hokkaido office of Japan’s Agriculture Ministry, as quoted by Nikkei.

Calbee, which has a 73 percent market share of potato chips, will stop making 33 items in total by the end of April. Koike-Ya, another snack manufacturer, is set to suspend or end sales of 16 brands, including popular consommé-flavor chips.

The news sparked a wave of panic buying, with Calbee’s pizza-flavored crisps trading at about 1,250 yen ($12) on the Yahoo Japan auction website. The usual price per bag is less than 200 yen.

According to a TV Asahi poll conducted among 10,000 consumers and 13 confectionary and snack-makers last year, Calbee’s potato snacks were the most and second-most popular.

To overcome the “potato crisis,” Koike-Ya is reportedly considering sourcing potatoes from the southern island of Kyushu, another major growing region. The company uses only domestic potatoes and cannot rely on imports.

The shortage may spread to fast-food chains and restaurants, which rely on potatoes for their dishes.

“We’re doing everything we can to resume sales again,” said Rie Makuuchi, a spokeswoman for Tokyo-based Calbee, as quoted by Bloomberg. She stressed that the firm would consider importing more spuds from the US, as well as ask potato farmers in Kyushu to harvest the crop earlier than scheduled.

Neither Koike-ya nor Calbee have specified when sales will resume.