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posted by takyon on Thursday December 07, @05:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the petros-per-gallon dept.

Enter the 'petro': Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro looked to the world of digital currency to circumvent U.S.-led financial sanctions, announcing on Sunday the launch of the "petro" backed by oil reserves to shore up a collapsed economy. The leftist leader offered few specifics about the currency launch or how the struggling OPEC member would pull off such a feat, but he declared to cheers that "the 21st century has arrived!"

"Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency," backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves, Maduro said in his regular Sunday televised broadcast, a five-hour showcase of Christmas songs and dancing. The petro, he said, would help Venezuela "advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade."

Opposition leaders derided the announcement, which they said needed congressional approval, and some cast doubt on whether the digital currency would ever see the light of day in the midst of turmoil. The real currency, the bolivar, is in freefall, and the country is sorely lacking in basic needs like food and medicine.


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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:52AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:52AM (#606664)

    so if they have all these resources to back a kryptokurrency, why can't they back their real money again? Oh right. greed and mismanagement. the same thing that will happen to any kryptokurrency they create.

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @07:34AM (7 children)

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @07:34AM (#606697) Homepage
      Yeah, but this is a step backward too. Venezuela is an inflationary debt-ridden economy currently (apparently because the resource they're sitting on increasing massively in value is making them poorer, don't laugh, that's what's been claimed by the powers that be), and a fully backed currency will prevent the out-of-control government spending that's been their norm for decades - so they'll be shooting themselves in the foot. They'll probably come up with some ability to debase the currency later, to solve that problem, and that debasement will happen by fiat. Add to that the fact that this will be centrally controlled, and it doesn't even have the freedom to trade that normal inventing-value-out-of-hydrocarbon-polluted-air cryptos will have, the corrupt government will be able to shut everything down on a whim.

      And in other news, congrats to XBT for reaching $13000.
      And in other news, congrats to XBT for reaching $14000.
      How d'you like those tulips?
      --
      I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @09:13AM (3 children)

        by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @09:13AM (#606724) Homepage
        Oh, and in other news, congrats XBT for reaching $15000 about an hour after posting the above!
        --
        I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:23PM (#606878)

          Still kicking myself for not mining a few bitcoins when I first heard about it and everybody was CPU mining.

          /me kicks self hard

          Could have paid for not only the plastic surgery I want, but somebody who's practically family to me as well.

          /me kicks self even harder

          Oh, and in other news, congrats XBT for reaching $16000!!

          And that Aventador I want.

          /me presses ⤴K at self, accompanied by cracks as a few ribs break

          Oh, and in other news, congrats XBT for reaching $17000!!!eleven!1!

          /me dies from punctured lung

          Eh, don't worry about me. I'm actually not quite dead yet.

          In fact, I'm getting better! I think I'll go for a walk.

        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @09:23PM (1 child)

          by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @09:23PM (#607000) Homepage
          Oh, and in other news, congrats to XBT for reaching $16000 (actually 16500) whilst I was in the pub tonight.
          If you're not at 17000 by morning, son, I'll be disappoint.
          --
          I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday December 07, @09:21AM (2 children)

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @09:21AM (#606728) Journal

        When you have the choice between a currency that loses value like crazy right now and a currency that will lose value like crazy some time in the future I think it can be a rational decision to get the latter. At least you'll have the chance to use some of it before the crash.

        BTW, the short form of bitcoin is "BTC", not "XBT".

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @09:49AM (1 child)

          by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @09:49AM (#606742) Homepage
          When you're starving - adult Venezualans have lost on average 7kg per person in recent years - the cost-risk-benefit analysis actually starts to favour bloody revolution. (See CPG Grey's vid on Rulers, and his references.)

          The typical non-revolution solution is, however, just to use widely available paper money from elsewhere, the black market in Russia was perfectly happy to use what were referred to as "conventional units" for payment (yes, they were USD).

          XBT has been the ISO standardised code for the currency for *over 4 years*. BTC only made sense if you're in a bubble. BT is the prefix for what would be a Bhutanese currency (such as the BTN). X is the prefix for a currency without national control. If you want to treat it as if it's a global currency, it should follow globally-adopted rules for its currency code.
          https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-gaining-market-based-legitimacy-xbt/
          --
          I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:42PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:42PM (#606798)

            adult Venezualans have lost on average 7kg per person in recent years

            Not to mention all cats and dogs have vanished from the country. Meanwhile in the US the Communists here will claim the struggle is REAL.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @10:42PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @10:42PM (#607023)

      Except they can rewrite the rules and own the greed and mismanagement instead of a currency market that ultimately can be manipulated by some 1st world ultra national behind the scenes with no accountability.

      So yea for the sheeple maybe not much of a difference - well except maybe they can revolt and shoot their corrupt leaders, lot easier than flying to where to the lair of someone like Greenspan...

  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Thursday December 07, @06:00AM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday December 07, @06:00AM (#606667)

    'Petro' is a silly name, it should reference a term associated with money, especially one already in use in multiple countries.

    Australia, the U.S. and others already use 'dollar', so they could make it much more recognizable by calling it the 'petrodollar'. I'm sure that would eliminate ambiguity.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Mykl on Thursday December 07, @06:21AM (11 children)

    by Mykl (1112) on Thursday December 07, @06:21AM (#606672)

    Bitcoin is backed by exactly nothing (which is why I was always leery of it and missed out on the gold rush). Why exactly would the petro need to be backed against real-world assets?

    For that matter, why don't Venezuelans just start using BitCoin / DogeCoin / Ethereum etc as-is? No need to create your own.

    Actually, now that I think about it, that removes the possibility that Maduro can corrupt it and profit personally. Never mind - carry on.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 07, @07:26AM (6 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @07:26AM (#606693) Journal

      For that matter, why don't Venezuelans just start using BitCoin / DogeCoin / Ethereum etc as-is?

      I suspect part of the problem, at least from the tax collector's point of view is that a lot of Venezuelans are already using these currencies.

      • (Score: 1) by petecox on Thursday December 07, @07:47AM

        by petecox (3228) on Thursday December 07, @07:47AM (#606704)

        Yep, that would be the strategy when their real currency is worthless. Just as Argentines under the Kirchners stashed their US dollars in Uruguayan banks.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @09:15AM (4 children)

        by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @09:15AM (#606725) Homepage
        Yeah, but there are 1334 to chose from, I'm sure they can find one that's not in wide use: https://coinmarketcap.com/all/views/all/
        --
        I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:12PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:12PM (#606790)

          Yeah, but there are 1334 to chose from

          I see, we need another three.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 07, @05:46PM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @05:46PM (#606892) Journal
            1334? RIDICULOUS! We need to develop one universal currency that covers everyone's use cases.
    • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Thursday December 07, @11:48AM

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @11:48AM (#606768) Homepage Journal

      why don't Venezuelans just start using BitCoin

      Oh, they are, they are.

      Meanwhile, the Venesuelan government is desperate. Having destroyed the country's economy through sheer incompetence, they are flat broke. They can't afford to buy BitCoin. By starting their own cryptocurrency, they hope to sucker people into handing them money. Bet that they will first mine most of the coins and then toss it onto the market.

      Also: just who will control the software? Even supposing they can get bunches of random people interested in this, those people will need download wallet software. Would you trust Venezuela's present government to write honest software?

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:07PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:07PM (#606989)

      "Bitcoin is backed by exactly nothing"

      That is not strictly true. Bitcoin is backed by cryptographic entropy. While that is not something that people typically consider a commodity, it is, to the best of our understanding, a "thing". While that "thing" is not tradable directly, the watts burned in order to unveil it from the universe certainly are.

      Which is to say that, while Venezuala is frankly batshit in it's statement, if they were to build a datacenter with a shit ton of CPU's and burn the oil to power them, then sorta, they would be telling the truth. Of course they probably aren't aware of that.

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Friday December 08, @06:01AM (1 child)

        by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @06:01AM (#607108)

        Isn't this like investing in "fine" art or "antiques"?

        ( Yes, I used the quotes because a lot of what I see valued so enormously seems to have value only in the sense that the person who made the thing of value is now dead... meaning that this thing is the only one of its kind in existence.... which somehow translates into it having some sort of absurd value. While similar items have no value. Antiques Roadshow never ceases to amaze me as to what has value and what does not. )

        I believe the only value of cryptocurrency is its opaqueness to governments power to tax or monitor commerce. Hence it would be of great use in conducting of financial affairs sans government involvements.

        I wonder how long governments are going to tolerate this, knowing this is a method of unreported wealth transfers out of their tax man's reach, as well as means of funding insurrections.

        Of course there is more than this method of money laundering right under our noses.... ever seen the range of the prices of "rare" books? I faced this dilemma once when looking for some old books of tables of thermodynamic properties of various compounds. Some were in the thousands of dollars. Some were a few dollars. All the stuff is computerized now, such tables now generated by formulas. But I wanted a nice bound book of tables for general armchair mullovers.

        It struck me as to how easy it would be to have "legitimate" money transfer by having someone buy my way overpriced book, provided I offered for sale the only copy of some obscure book.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, @01:42PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, @01:42PM (#607172)

          So you say, like art, Bitcoin will get more valuable after Satoshi Nakamoto is dead? Well, that would certainly explain why he hides his identity. ;-)

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @07:33AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @07:33AM (#606696)

    They could issue paper currency backed by oil revenue instead.

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @07:35AM (2 children)

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @07:35AM (#606700) Homepage
      Nah, but it's he 21st century, and everything has to be blockheadchain.
      --
      I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @07:44AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @07:44AM (#606703)

        Nah, but it's he 21st century, and everything has to be blockheadchain.

        I think we are at a point where vast majority of people that use this term know fuck-all what it actually means. But you know, as long as the value keeps going up, then you must buy buy buy!! Like the Chinese apartment prices.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:46PM (#606800)

        Nah, but it's he 21st century, and everything has to be blockheadchain.

        Holy cow, are you my boss by chance?!

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Thursday December 07, @11:13AM

      by Bot (3902) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @11:13AM (#606757)

      Printing and especially securely distributing paper costs more than moving bits. Especially when it is your client that maintains the blockchain, and you are a bit broken...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @01:16PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @01:16PM (#606777)

    Apparently the worst shortage in Venezuela is that of toilet paper.

    Which is ironic, considering what a massive ass-wipe Maduro is.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @02:48PM (#606803)

      I would say that's second worst, food being the worst. But food shortage means less need for toilet paper, you cannot shit if you don't eat!

      I grew up in Communist Utopia in central Europe. I still shudder when I recall whiping my ass with newspaper (BTW if you think CNN invented FAKE NEWS, you should have read some of the Communist rags).

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