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The Demise of the Venezuelan Bolívar Continues [Chart]

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The Demise of the Venezuelan Bolívar Continues [Chart]

The Demise of the Venezuelan Bolívar Continues [Chart]

The Chart of the Week is a weekly feature in Visual Capitalist on Fridays.

When the price of oil got crushed in mid-2014, there was no doubt that economies heavily reliant on oil exports would feel a pinch. Russia and Venezuela are no exception, and their currencies have been some of the most interesting stories emerging from this new oil price reality.

Russia’s ruble had declined almost 40% against the US dollar over the next six months, only to rebound at the beginning of 2015 along with the price of Brent. Venezuela, which needs to sell oil at $89 to breakeven on their budget, has also seen their currency flop. However, the circumstances are very different.

While the Russian ruble was able to rebound somewhat, the Venezuelan bolívar has continued to depreciate to close to 80% against the USD since the oil price went down the tubes. This is only part of an even bigger decline since Nicolas Maduro took office two years ago, and the oil price isn’t the only thing to blame. The country’s draconian capital flight controls, waning foreign currency reserves, and money printing are also factors.

Of course, news of the struggling bolívar isn’t based on the official information from the Venezuelan government – it comes from the black market rates that citizens pay in a nearby Colombian border town for dollars. The government is currently working to shut down the widely followed website that publishes these rates, known as DolarToday.

In the past two weeks, the decimation of the Venezuelan bolívar has gained even more momentum. It now costs around 400 bolívars to buy $1, when it took about 300 on May 14th. The largest currency note in the country is a 100-bolívar bill, and it is now worth around a mere quarter in US terms. When hyperinflation gains any traction, it can be extremely hard to stop.

Black market bolívars, monetary expansion, and dwindling foreign currency reserves

International companies are beginning to no longer accepting bolívars. Ford announced that it will only accept USD in Venezuela, and American Airlines only allows customers to buy online with dollars.

DolarToday estimates inflation for bolívars at 68.5%, but other calculations have implied inflation as high as 510%.

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War

Visualized: Top 15 Global Tank Fleets

Heavily armed and armored, the modern tank is a versatile and mobile weapons platform, and a critical piece of contemporary warfare. 

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Teaser image for an dot matrix chart of the top 15 global tank fleets, broken down by main battle tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and storage, showing that the U.S. is number one, by a wide margin.

The Top 15 Global Tank Fleets

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Heavily armed and armored, the modern tank is a versatile and mobile weapons platform, and a critical piece of contemporary warfare.

This visualization shows the top 15 global tank fleets, using data from the 2024 Military Balance report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Let’s take an in-depth look at the top three fleets:

1. United States

As the world’s pre-eminent military power, it’s perhaps no surprise that the United States also has the largest tank fleet, by a wide margin.

In total, they have just over 45,000 armored fighting vehicles in operation, along with 2,640 main battle tanks (MBTs), and 12,800 vehicles in storage, of which 2,000 are main battle tanks.

CategoryVehiclesGlobal rank
Main battle tanks2,6404
Armored reconnaissance1,7451
Infantry fighting vehicles3,2623
Armored personnel carriers10,6441
Amphibious assault vehicles1,4011
Armored utility vehicles28,4451
Storage12,8001
Total60,9371

The U.S. is internalizing the lessons from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, where Western-supplied anti-tank weapons and massed Ukrainian artillery have been cutting Russian tanks to pieces. As a result, the U.S. recently canceled an upgrade of the M1 Abrams in favor of a more ambitious upgrade.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is nervously eyeing a more confident China and a potential clash over Taiwan, where air and naval forces will be critical. However, a recent war game showed that Taiwanese mechanized ground forces, kitted out with American-made tanks and armored fighting vehicles, were critical in keeping the island autonomous.

2. Russia

According to Oryx, a Dutch open-source intelligence defense website, at time of writing, Russia has lost almost 2,800 main battle tanks since invading Ukraine. Considering that in the 2022 edition of the Military Balance, Russia was estimated to have 2,927 MBTs in operation, those are some hefty losses.

Russia has been able to maintain about 2,000 MBTs in the field, in part, by increasing domestic production. Many defense plants have been taken over by state-owned Rostec and now operate around the clock. Russia is also now spending a full third of their budget on defense, equivalent to about 7.5% of GDP.

At the same time, they’ve also been drawing down their Soviet-era stockpiles, which are modernized before being sent to the front. Just how long they can keep this up is an open question; their stockpiles are large, but not limitless. Here is what their storage levels look like:

Category20232024YOY change
Main battle tanks5,0004,000-20.0%
Armored reconnaissance1,000100-90.0%
Infantry fighting vehicles4,0002,800-30.0%
Armored personnel carriers6,0002,300-61.7%
Total16,0009,200-42.5%

3. China

China holds the third overall spot and top place globally for the number of main battle tanks in operation. Untypically, the People’s Liberation Army has no armored vehicles in storage, which perhaps isn’t surprising when you consider that China has been rapidly modernizing its military and that stockpiles usually contain older models.

China also has one of the world’s largest fleets of armored fighting vehicles, second only to the United States. Breaking down that headline number, we can also see that they have the largest number of light tanks, wheeled guns, and infantry fighting vehicles. 

CategoryVehiclesGlobal rank
Main battle tanks4,7001
Light tanks1,3301
Wheeled guns1,2501
Infantry fighting vehicles8,2001
Armored personnel carriers3,6045
Airborne combat vehicles1802
Amphibious assault vehicles9902
Total20,2543

This is equipment that would be integral if China were to make an attempt to reunify Taiwan with the mainland by force, where lightly armored mechanized units need to move with speed to occupy the island before Western allies can enter the fray. It’s worth noting that China also has one of the world’s largest fleets of amphibious assault vehicles.

End of the Tank?

Many commentators at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were quick to predict the end of the tank, however, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the tank’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

With the U.S. and China both developing remote and autonomous armored vehicles, tanks could be quite different in the future, but there is nothing else that matches them for firepower, mobility, and survivability on the modern battlefield today.

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