Don’t look now, but it appears that Chavecito’s economic ideas have some support from a, shall we say, highly unexpected quarter:

The Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has endorsed an ambitious plan by Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, to create a pan-regional bank for Latin America. Professor Stiglitz, a Washington insider and former World Bank chief economist, said the Bank of the South would benefit the region and give a welcome shakeup to western lending institutions.

The bank, known in Spanish as Banco del Sur, is due to be founded next month in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, with start-up capital of up to $7bn from seven South American countries. It represents a victory for Mr Chávez, who conceived the project and drove it through numerous obstacles. Mr Chávez, a self-described socialist revolutionary, argued that the bank would wean the region off Washington-dominated prescriptions and help to deliver economic independence.

Ay caramba, wouldn’t it just. It would also drive a final nail into the coffins of all those “experts” out there claiming–against all the evidence that just keeps mounting against them–that the Bolivarian Revolution isn’t spilling over into neighboring lands, isn’t having any effect, is doomed to fail, blah blah blabbity blah blah. You don’t even have to compare the BoRev to what preceded it–although it undoubtedly helps get the point across to the Hardcore Stupid–to see how it is succeeding where so-called neoliberalism failed. You just have to know where to look, as Mr. Stiglitz undoubtedly does.

We’ll try not to snigger, though, at his contention that this is about “competition in the market”. The fact is, the neoliberal institutions have no intention of competing. And even if they did, they’d fail. The IMF, the World Bank, and their odious “conditionalities” have already failed the big test of the marketplace of ideas. They have nowhere to go but the dustbins of history, and not a moment too soon. It is high time that there were a development bank that actually made developments beneficial to the people–and lifted the masses up rather than squashing them further and further down. That’s something you won’t catch the IMF or the World Bank doing anytime soon.

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