When black markets in currencies develop, you can be 100% sure the official exchange rate is overinflated.

In Venezuela, the fixed rate of exchange is 6.3 bolivars to the dollar, the floating rate of exchange is 50 bolivars to the dollar, and the black market rate is 184 bolivars to the dollar. The latter is what the currency is really worth at the moment.

From 6.3 to 184 is a loss of 96.6%

Even at the floating rate of 50 bolivars to the dollar, Venezuela’s currency woes an increasing threat to U.S. corporate profits.

  • Ford Motor Co on Friday said it was taking a pre-tax charge of $800 million for its Venezuela business. It blamed Venezuelan exchange control regulations that have restricted the ability of its operations in the country to pay dividends and obligations in U.S. dollars. Ford also said that it was unable to maintain normal production in Venezuela with the availability of vehicle parts constrained.

  • On Friday, diaper and tissue maker Kimberly-Clark Corp said it took a fourth-quarter charge of $462 million for its Venezuelan business.
  • At the end of the third quarter, for example, American Airlines Group Inc, had $721 million held in the Venezuelan currency, at a weighted average exchange rate of 6.41 bolivars to the dollar. Theoretically, if the airline tried to repatriate all of that money into dollars at the current black market rate of 184 bolivars per U.S. dollar as quoted by the website dolartoday.com, it would only receive about $25 million.

  • Overall, foreign companies have an estimated $16 billion in outstanding dividends listed on their balance sheets that they have not been able to return to headquarters, according to Caracas-based research firm Ecoanalitica.

Dolar Today Quote

Here’s the quote from Dolar Today.

Clorox did the smart thing and exited Venezuela entirely. I can see why Ford would not want to abandon its plant (but it’s likely to be nationalized anyway).

Why American Airlines and Kimberly-Clark stick around is a mystery.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock