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Latin America

How to Save on Christmas Shopping: Punish the 'Parasitic Bourgeoisie'

No one likes paying a lot at the store, but only Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has taken matters into his own hands. Inflation in Venezuela is running at 54 percent a year. Last Friday, Maduro ordered the military to occupy a national chain of electronics stores named Daka, arrest store managers, and slash prices.

In a late-night television address on Sunday, Maduro announced he was extending price controls and will place limits on profits. According to the Associated Press, he said he would step up inspections of businesses selling shoes, clothing, cars, and other goods. “We can’t just close the businesses; the owners have to go to jail,” Maduro said, according to the AP. The president cited Jewish, Muslim, and Christian texts in support of his position. He said he won’t allow the “parasitic bourgeoisie” to overcharge consumers ever again.

Maduro says he’s trying to solve two problems: high prices and shortages. But by forcing prices down he is guaranteeing that shortages will be worse.

Maduro, who has been in office for seven months, is proving himself a loyal successor to former President Hugo Chávez, who died in March of an undisclosed type of cancer. Chávez seized more than 1,000 companies or their assets during his 14 years in office, according to Bloomberg.

Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor. His Twitter handle is @petercoy.

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