Venezuela's new economy czar Luis Salas is tasked with controlling what is believed to be the world's highest rate of inflation, but comes to the job with an unusual perspective: that inflation does not really exist.
President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday tapped the 39-year-old sociologist as vice president for the economy amid soaring consumer prices and chronic product shortages, signaling a move toward orthodox socialism in the OPEC nation struggling under low oil prices.
Essays written by Salas describe scarcity and spiraling prices as the result of exploitation by businesses rather than government policy, offering an academic underpinning to the "economic war" explanation that Maduro uses to describe the current malaise of recession, runaway prices and widespread product shortages.
"Inflation does not exist in real life," he wrote in a 2015 pamphlet called "22 Keys to Understanding the Economic War." "When a person goes to a shop and finds that prices have gone up, they are not in the presence of 'inflation.'"
Salas has argued against the idea that excessive printing of money causes inflation - an almost universally accepted tenet of macroeconomics. He insists prices rise primarily because corporations seek excessive profit margins.