Venezuela supermarket
A woman picks up groceries at a supermarket in CaracasReuters

Venezuela is likely to default on its foreign debt due to a shortage of dollars in the economy, according to two leading Harvard economists.

The lack of dollars in the economy has made it impossible for the country's government to meet the basic needs of its citizens, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff told Bloomberg.

Strict currency controls in the country have led to a paucity of dollars in Venezuela, leading to chronic shortages of a range of basic consumer goods including foodstuffs and toilet rolls.

Economic mismanagement has reduced gross domestic product per-capita below levels seen in the 1970s, the professors wrote in an article for Project Syndicate.

"Given that the government is defaulting in numerous ways on its domestic residents already, the historical cross-country probability of an external default is close to" 100%, the economists wrote.

"They have extensive domestic defaults and an economy that is really imploding," Reinhart told Bloomberg. "What they really need to do is get their house in order. If an external default would trigger such a possibility, that's not such a bad thing," she said.

The country with the world's largest proven oil reserves can also claim to have the world's riskiest government debt.

According to data presented by JPMorgan Chase & Co, Venezuelan debt yields 15.42 percentage points more than similar maturity Treasuries, while the cost to insure against bond defaults with credit-swaps is also the highest for any government.

Venezuela's government has reduced imports in a bid to cover its foreign debt obligations, as it battles a currency crisis.

According to the latest government statistics, the value of imports fell by a third in the first half of 2014, compared to the same period in 2012.

Nicolas Maduro's administration is also battling a declining industrial sector and the world's highest inflation as the country heads for congressional elections in December.

Facing waning popularity among the electorate, Maduro has ignored economists' proposals to slash energy subsidies, devalue the currency or even reduce government spending.