The economics of Edward Snowden’s asylum countries

Mark Garrison Jul 11, 2013

The economics of Edward Snowden’s asylum countries

Mark Garrison Jul 11, 2013

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who is accused of leaking documents detailing an NSA surveillance program, is likely headed to Latin America, where several countries have offered him asylum. So what is the economic situation in each of these countries?

Stephen Keppel, who covers economics for Univision, joins Marketplace’s Mark Garrison to discuss.


GDP: $402.1 billion
Unemployment rate: 8%
Population below poverty line: 31.6%

Keppel’s take: “The Venezuelan economy is a mess. Growth is near zero. There is still some instability after the election. Inflation is near 30 percent. It would be tough.”


GDP: $54.36 billion
Unemployment rate: 5.5%
Population below poverty line: 49.6%

Keppel’s take: “Bolivia is a much smaller economy [than Venezuela]. It’s still one of the poorest countries in Latin America, however, it’s had pretty steady and stable growth. This is mainly because it still has a pretty booming oil and mining industry. Aside from that, there’s not a whole lot else, so I don’t know what type of job prospects Snowden would have.”


GDP: $20.04 billion
Unemployment rate: 7.4%
Population below poverty line: 42.5%

Keppel’s take: “Nicaragua is another poor country, one of the poorest in the region. However, we are seeing growth around 4 percent. It’s a little bit less authoritarian perhaps than Venezuela. So there is a few opportunities in Venezuela for perhaps a little bit more of a laid back lifestyle. It’s got some really nice property. It’s inexpensive. A lot of the Americans that were going to Costa Rica [to retire] are spilling over into Nicaragua.”

Final Score: Based on economics and quality of life, Keppel ranks Snowden’s options (1) Nicaragua, (2) Bolivia, and (3) Venezuela.

Source: CIA World Factbook.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.