Why Oil Prices Are To Blame For Condoms Costing $755 In Venezuela

by John Haltiwanger

Oil prices have plummeted since summer. In June, the price of oil was around $115 per barrel.

Right now, it's at around $48.45 per barrel.

If you're from an oil consuming country like the United States, this might seem like great news.

It's why gas prices have been around $2 per gallon in recent weeks. Americans have taken advantage of this by saving money and paying off their debts. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Concurrently, the drop in oil prices has had disastrous consequences in oil-producing countries like Venezuela and Russia.

The problem here is oil production has been much higher than the actual demand.

The dynamics behind this are complex, but some of it has to do with the fact countries like the US have become less reliant on foreign oil in the wake of the Great Recession.

Yet, even as demand for oil dropped, OPEC, the globe's largest oil cartel, decided not to reduce production.

Consequently, there is a huge excess of oil right now. Countries depending on oil sales to sustain their economies were hit hardest by these developments.

Indeed, Russia's economy is tanking and Venezuela is in a state of complete unrest. Venezuela relies on crude oil for 95 percent of its foreign export income. The price it receives for oil exports dropped 60 percent in the last seven months.

As oil prices dropped, so have the standard of living and quality of life within the South American country.

Many Venezuelans have been forced onto the streets.

They are suffering from increases in crime and inflation, as well as food shortages. Given Venezuela imports most of what it consumes, this also caused a massive shortage in consumer products. This means Venezuelans are not only lining up to buy basic food items like meat and sugar, they're also struggling to find diapers and deodorant.

What's more, conditions have gotten so bad in Venezuela, condoms have all but disappeared. If you're lucky enough to find a pack, it could cost you up to $755.

Simply put, the Venezuelan people can't even have safe sex because of oil prices.

Venezuela already has one of the highest rates of both HIV and teenage pregnancy in South America. The lack of access to condoms certainly won't help the country in this regard.

Moreover, abortion is illegal in Venezuela, so this increases the risk of unsafe abortions among pregnant teenagers and women in general. Likewise, with more women pregnant, Venezuela's already suffering economy will see fewer females in the workforce.

Not to mention, the shortages of so many basic consumer items caused crime and violence to rise as people protested the government's handling of the crisis.

Unfortunately, there is no clear or simple solution to the state of affairs in Venezuela at present, and one can only hope things will improve in the near future.

This is but another example of how interconnected we are in this increasingly globalized world.

While Americans are enjoying lower prices at the pump, Venezuelans are fighting in the streets because they can't even find condoms.

Citations: The 755 Condom Pack Is the Latest Indignity in Venezuela (Bloomberg Business), When Gas Prices Fell Nobody Expected This (Time), Why oil prices keep falling and throwing the world into turmoil (Vox), Winners and losers of oil price plunge (Financial Times ), Oil drops 7 as inventories climb for 4th week (CNBC), Here today up tomorrow Why gas prices may be on the rise (CNBC), US oil ends at 4845 a barrel Largest 1 day percentage drop since Nov (CNBC), Gas Prices Starting to Rise (Time), The Cost of Cheap Gas (Time), Why Are US Oil Imports Falling (Time), Why Only Half Of Venezuelans Are On The Streets (FiveThirtyEight), Russians Feel Pinch as US Sanctions Bite Oil Prices Plummet (NBC News)