You’re nothing, but suddenly you’ve got what everyone wants

7 Jul

Venezuelan prostitutes

 

 

Without judging, blaming, or saying I wouldn’t do it, the standard model for business is that those who dominate the financial markets rig them in their favor. That’s really not a shocker. The shocker is that once in a great while something occurs in the market place that benefits those of little means.

 

Right now the beneficiaries of fate’s largess are the prostitutes of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

 

Not long ago, Venezuela was flush with petro-cash and acted brashly and boldly on the world scene. Under socialist President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela even helped 400,000 poor Americans pay their winter heating bills. Chavez, however, is dead and gone and the Venezuelan economy has all but collapsed. People can no longer find things like cooking oil and flour in their local stores.

 

Spared from this hardship are the prostitutes of Puerto Cabello. This has not so much to do with the sex trade as it does with the currency trade.

 

An article by Anatoly Kurmanaev in Bloomsberg Businessweek explains the scenario.

 

The Venezuelan currency is the bolivar, and it has taken a nosedive. The official exchange rate is 6.3 bolivars per dollar but the going rate on the street is 71 bolivars and climbing. Either way, dollars are very hard to get. The government restricts their circulation.

 

But foreign sailors, the primary customers of prostitutes in Puerto Cabello, a port town, pay in dollars. This means the prostitutes now possess the most sought-after item in the country. Currency traders seek them out and lavish them with bolivars in exchange for their dollars. This enables them to purchase whatever they want on the black market.

 

By the way, the prostitution is legal but the currency trading is not.

 

Sailors are charged a flat rate of $60 an hour. With the new market conditions, one trick is equal to the monthly wage of some people. But the prostitutes also book hotels and taxis for the visiting sailors. They charge them in dollars and pay for the rooms in bolivars. This increases their salary another 50 percent.

 

So here’s to the horizontalists of Puerto Cabello. I think they deserve this unexpected turn of events. No word yet on anyone rushing in to deny them their windfall. That’s noble. I sense in the United States the good times wouldn’t last long. If something the poor had became valuable it would be taken away. If a commodity as unwanted as, say, rat droppings was needed to make a new cancer drug, rich investors would quickly buy up the dropping rights at all the infested slums of major American cities, leaving the tenants unable to benefit from a sad condition turned bright.

 

On this score, the Venezuelan elite seem much better sports than their American counterparts. The extra money earned by the prostitutes, incidentally, goes for things needed by their families. But as a prostitute named Elena points out in the article, she still has to sell her body.

 

By Lanny Morgnanesi

 

(Photo by Vladimir Marcano /Bloomberg)

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2 Responses to “You’re nothing, but suddenly you’ve got what everyone wants”

  1. Leslie Scism July 8, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Really interesting and well done piece

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

    Like

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