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Grafitti in Caracas reads, "Is there bread?" Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Inflation in Venezuela will reach a stratospheric 1,000,000% by year’s end and the economy will shrink by 18% this year, the IMF projected last week. That rivals economic calamities like Germany’s in 1923 or Zimbabwe’s in the late 2000s, according to the IMF’s Alejandro Werner.

The backstory: Formerly one of the richest countries in the Americas, sitting on perhaps the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela hasn’t been crippled by war or natural disasters — the catastrophe is manmade, Foreign Policy’s Keith Johnson writes:

  • Then: “In the early 1960s, Venezuela produced more than 10% of the world’s crude and had a per capita GDP many times bigger than that of its neighbors Brazil and Colombia — and not far behind that of the U.S.”
  • Now: “The same state that, six decades ago, dreamed up the idea of a cartel of oil exporters (OPEC) now must import petroleum to meet its needs. … Venezuela’s murder rate, meanwhile, now surpasses that of Honduras and El Salvador. ... Blackouts are a near-daily occurrence, and many people live without running water. According to media reports, schoolchildren and oil workers have begun passing out from hunger, and sick Venezuelans have scoured veterinary offices for medicine.”
  • Why: The nationalization of the oil industry in 1976, Hugo Chavez’s subsequent hollowing out of the state oil firm and raiding of its coffers to fund social programs in the 2000s, and Venezuela’s near-total dependence on oil left it with few options when prices tanked beginning in 2014, Johnson writes.

What to watch: The crash came under the disastrous leadership of Nicolás Maduro, who has managed to make a bad situation much worse. Millions of Venezuelans have already fled the country, and there's no end in sight.

Go deeper

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

Pelosi slams GOP leadership's moves against Liz Cheney

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week condemned Republican efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair.

Why it matters: A number of Democrats have spoken out against attempts to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Trump, framing the discussion as one essential to the maintenance of American democracy.

What to watch in AMLO's meeting with Harris

Three Mexico national guardsmen stand in front of the metro overpass that collapsed onto a busy highway. Photo: Julián Lopez/ Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Joint efforts to stem the increased number of migrants heading to the U.S. will likely be at the top of discussions when Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hold their virtual meeting on Friday.

The big picture: The U.S. government has consistently asked its southern neighbor to prevent immigrants from reaching the border, mostly through threats like former President Trump’s talk of tariffs.