Venezuelans have to navigate a labyrinth of lines to buy staples like sugar or aspirin. They’ve gotten used to finding that the store shelves are empty, a frustration that sometimes boils over into looting. So they don’t really need economic data to tell them that 2016 was a terrible year.
Still, when and if the numbers do come in, they’ll likely confirm a collapse that’s almost unprecedented outside wartime. The government has long since halted regular publication of GDP figures, maintaining radio silence since February. But the International Monetary Fund’s estimate, of a 10 percent contraction, would make Venezuela the world’s worst economy last year -- and that’s toward the optimistic end of the spectrum. Private economists put the drop at as much as 15 percent.