“Raspao” Currency Arbitrage Thriving in Venezuela

Venezuelans use “raspao” or “big scrape” to take advantage of the ever widening currency spread between the black-market dollar and Venezuela’s official Cadivi rate, according to Bloomberg News.

Current currency controls under the Commission for the Administration of Currency Exchange, or Cadivi, were imposed by Hugo Chávez’s Administration in 2003. Venezuelans — burdened with a dollar shortage that continues to fuel the fastest inflation in Latin America and real shortages in staple products — are using credit card transactions, or raspaos, outside the country to gain access to dollars and reselling at a profit.

Nicolás Maduro, president since Chávez’s death, has sought to ease the gridlock by bringing back a dollar auction system. However, the street rate of the bolivar fuerte, Venezuela’s official currency, has dropped some 70 percent to Bs. F (VEF) 31.5 per dollar, according to the El Liberal Venezolano website which tracks bolivar exchange. The official rate, by comparison, is Bs. F (VEF) 6.23 per dollar.

Henkel Garcia, director of Caracas-based Econometrica told Bloomberg,  “The socialist system has created a subsidy that allows you to travel practically for free.”

Source: Bloomberg News. Read more »

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