CARACAS, Venezuela — They were the cheapest in the store, but the Converse knockoffs were still 500,000 bolívars a pair. “Son locos” — they’re crazy — Viviana Acosta had said, gingerly placing the sneakers back on the shelf.
Just before Christmas, the world’s worst inflation crisis in nearly a decade was escalating — bringing a country of nearly 32 million, once Latin America’s richest per capita, to its knees. Shoes for the kids had been Viviana’s plan for the holidays. But multiply by three — for two daughters and one son — and it was three months worth of what she earned doing house-call hair and nails.