Venezuela Faces Toilet Paper Shortage

Venezuela seems to be running low on a rather crucial commodity:

First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper.

Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the government says it will import 50m rolls to boost supplies.

That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday.

“This is the last straw,” said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for tissue in Caracas. “I’m 71 years old and this is the first time I’ve seen this.”

One supermarket visited by the Associated Press in the capital on Wednesday was out of toilet paper. Another had just received a fresh batch, and it quickly filled up with shoppers as the word spread.

“I’ve been looking for it for two weeks,” said Cristina Ramos. “I was told that they had some here and now I’m in line.”

Economists say Venezuela’s shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government’s controls on foreign currency.

“State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

President Nicolás Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chávez to carry on his “Bolivarian revolution”, claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilise the country.

Hanke is right that it’s the price controls that are causing the shortages, simple economics tells us that. Hopefully, though, this situation won’t become too crappy for the Venezuelan people.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    Send them old Montgomery Wards catalogs…that’s why my grandad used on the farm.

  2. Matt says:

    Hopefully, though, this situation won’t become too crappy for the Venezuelan people.

    You just couldn’t help yourself could you?

  3. @Matt:

    What can I say? 🙂

  4. Matt says:

    It is all coming to pass as Sheryl Crow foretold.

  5. Matt says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I can’t blame you as it is a shitty situation..

  6. John Burgess says:

    I faced the same situation in Syria in the mid-80s. No toilet paper, no light bulbs, entire categories of food missing from the local markets.

    Luckily for consumers, there was a vibrant black market in Syria. And, if you had a car, you could drive over to one of the borders with Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey and find all the things the Syrian planned economy couldn’t quite manage to produce in adequate supply.

  7. Moosebreath says:

    @Matt:

    I’m sure it will all work out in the end. We shouldn’t get too pooped out worrying about their problems when we have so many of our own.

    I’ll be here all week, folks.

  8. JKB says:

    Wait a minute, is this people’s idea of a socialist utopia?

    On the upside, with shortages in food, less going in the front means less coming out the back end.

    When can we make America this wonderful. Stupid capitalists, messing up everything with their productivity and consumerism.

  9. Peter says:

    Use corncobs.

  10. Franklin says:

    Oh, you guys are on a roll!

  11. James Joyner says:

    I just don’t give a sheet.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: The only person’s brain who thought it was a socialist paradise was their late unlamented fruitcake ruler Chavez.

  13. Matt says:

    @Moosebreath: No doubt there will be quite the strain on the pipeline for a bit but I imagine it’ll all flush out fine in the end..

  14. Moosebreath says:

    @Matt:

    “it’ll all flush out fine in the end”

    Enemas for all!

  15. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    The only person’s brain who thought it was a socialist paradise was their late unlamented fruitcake ruler Chavez.

    Oh the loony university left around these parts was pretty fannish too. To the point of organizing public screening of pseudo-documentaries with discussions on “what we can learn from Venezuela”.

  16. CSK says:

    What an offal situation.

  17. al-Ameda says:

    Is it still okay to blame Hugo Chavez and the international socialist conspiracy for this?

  18. anjin-san says:

    @JKB

    You sound like a man who is utterly desperate to find people to look down at.

    Looking in the mirror is generally more constructive.

  19. grumpy realist says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: I would say You’re Kidding but I remember running across some fanbois somewhere on the internet posting how Chavez’s policies were going to Save Everyone.

    Believe it or not, they were also Ron Paulites. It made for an….interesting combination.

  20. ernieyeball says:

    WARNING! DO NOT LAUGH!

    Dick Trickle died.

  21. Andre Kenji says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The only person’s brain who thought it was a socialist paradise was their late unlamented fruitcake ruler Chavez.

    There are some “chavistas” in the commentariat of this blog.

  22. dmhlt says:

    As Seinfeld’s Elaine would say, “I don’t have a square to spare.”