But economics won\’t ignore you:
But of milk, eggs, sugar and cooking oil there was no sign. Where were they? The question yesterday prompted a puzzled look from the manager. "There isn\’t any. Everybody knows that. Pasta is probably the next to go," he shrugged.
Welcome to Venezuela, a booming economy with a difference. Food shortages are plaguing the country at the same time that oil revenues are driving a spending splurge on imported luxury goods, prompting criticism of President Hugo Chávez\’s socialist policies.
Milk has all but vanished from shops. Distraught mothers ask how they are supposed to feed their infants. Many cafes and restaurants serve only black coffee.
Families say eggs and sugar are also a memory. "The last time I had them was September," said Marisol Perez, 51, a housewife in Petare, a sprawling barrio in eastern Caracas.
When supplies do arrive long queues form instantly. Purchases are rationed and hands are stamped to prevent cheating. The sight of a milk truck reportedly prompted a near-riot last week.
This isn\’t actually a surprise. When you set the price of an item below its cost of production then people won\’t produce the good.
Government price controls on staple foods are so low that producers cannot make a profit, they say, and farms and businesses hesitate to invest in crops or machinery, or stockpile inventories, for fear of expropriations.
"We\’ve warned about this from the beginning – all of these price controls in the long run end up producing shortages," Ismael Perez, of the industry group Conindustria, told Reuters.
You can even fight economics but economics will win.