Venezuela is not the first developed country to put itself on track to fall into a catastrophic economic crisis. But it is in the relatively unusual situation of having done so while in possession of enormous oil assets.
The Venezuelan government doesn't claim to be full-fledged in its devotion to Marxism-Leninism. It has been pursuing as absurd an economic policy mix as its Soviet predecessor. It has insisted for years on maintaining drastic price controls on a wide range of basic goods, including food staples such as meat and bread, for which it pays enormous subsidies. Nonetheless the Venezuelan government, like the Soviet Union's, has always felt it could afford these subsidies because of its oil revenues.
Maduro seems intent on printing money like crazy, so the next step will be hyperinflation. Inflation is already believed to have reached 700 percent a year, and it is heading toward official hyperinflation, that is, an inflation rate of at least 50 percent a month.