A Single Home Depot Employee Basically Controls Venezuela's Economy
Venezuela has the economic system of a Monopoly game being played by 5-year-olds who don't know how to read and are just guessing what the numbers are. Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela's government insists on meddling in the price and supply of pretty much everything, leading to shortages of essential items like food, toilet paper, and breast implants. One of the strictest economic controls is their bizarre system of exchange rates, which assigns as many as four different rates based on the use in question and the government's hopes and dreams, rather than any rational system of order.
TP is still the most valuable type of paper there, though.
So, in order to actually do business with foreign companies, Venezuelans rely on "black market" exchange rates: illicit websites that post more realistic rates, in addition to unflattering news articles about the Venezuelan government. The most prominent site is DolarToday.com, which the Venezuelan government has declared Public Enemy No. 1 due to its habit of revealing how worthless Venezuelan currency is, ultimately making it even more so. And Cracked has in its possession a rare photograph of the shadowy economic puppetmaster behind it all:
The Wall Street Journal
"Looking for anything in particular today? Tools? Bolts? Crushing socialism?"
The model-train-enthusiast-looking gentleman above is Gustavo Diaz, a Venezuelan expatriate who works in the hardware section of a Home Depot in Alabama. When he's not advising customers on what type of nails are best to hang their tasteful nude self-portraits, he updates DolarToday by scanning social media for pricing information and transactions to determine a more accurate exchange rate.
Diaz is actually a former revolutionary who helped lead an unsuccessful coup to overthrow Hugo Chavez. After leaving Venezuela, Diaz defected to America and took up residence in Alabama, where he has since waged an economic war that, in his words, "[Does] more damage to the government than I did as a military man."
Reuters, Fox News