Venezuela is currently undergoing the worst economic crisis in its history. By the end of 2016, more than 30% of the gross domestic product (GDP) it had three years ago will be lost. Poverty has soared to record levels. Monthly inflation rates are gradually approaching hyperinflation. Shortages of basic food staples and medicines are rampant. A three-tier exchange rate system prevails, with black market rates surpassing the lowest official rate by a factor of one-hundred. After more than a decade of massive expropriations and state control, the small, surviving, private industrial apparatus is nearly paralyzed, trapped in a web of regulations, without access to foreign currency to purchase parts or raw materials, and their operations are technologically obsolete.
In order to promote a better understanding of the causes, magnitudes, and possible remedies of the crisis, the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University launched a research initiative on Venezuela at the end of 2015.