A manager weighs banknotes on a scale at a bakery in Caracas, Venezuela. (Photographer: Manaure Quintero/Bloomberg)

Venezuela's Crumbling Economy Revealed in 2016 SEC Filing

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s economy shrank a staggering 16.5 percent last year according to a 2016 annual report filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

In addition the report showed inflation reached 274 percent in 2016, while unemployment stood at 7.5 percent and shows the government has slashed imports for four straight years.

Venezuela has not published key economic indicators for almost two years with the last comprehensive statistics published in January 2016. In the absence of official data, economists have relied on independent estimates provided by international organizations, banks and even Venezuela’s congress to track the South American nation’s dramatic collapse.

The abrupt 144-page document confirms what analysts have long suspected: Venezuela’s economy is in a depression, with its economy severely contracting for three years in a row. Years of byzantine controls combined with the 2014 crash in the price of crude -- the mainstay of the of Venezuelan economy -- have the left country reeling, as authorities have refused to enact major adjustments to cope for loss in revenues.

Before Venezuela’s new legislative super body took over the functions of the opposition-led congress this year, the sidelined National Assembly had started publishing its own inflation index due to the lack of official data. Bloomberg’s Cafe Con Leche Index puts inflation at an annual pace of more than 7,000 percent over the past six months.

The filing comes as most of the country had already shutdown ahead of the Christmas season. On Tuesday, President Nicolas Maduro decreed a special holiday work schedule -- granting the public sector half-days through the first week of January -- following a major blackout that left the capital, Caracas, and neighboring states without power.

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