- The annual rate of price inflation in Venezuela is now at more than 20%.
- In early 2013, the government was forced to announce a 32% devaluation.
- Cronyism was rife and the murder rate tripled, partly owing to corruption in the police and the justice system
- Chávez’s petro-diplomacy sometimes took bizarre forms, like providing cheap bus travel for Londoners to please London’s left-wing mayor, Ken Livingstone
And what about the Third Way? In the aftermath of the collapse of communism, Chávez’s mix of anti-Americanism and state activism seemed merely eccentric. There could be no alternative to free markets and the neoliberal Washington Consensus – or so it appeared.
But the rise of China, the relative decline of the United States, the long boom in commodity prices, and the Western financial collapse of 2008 have created space for political and economic experiments. Chávez took advantage of that opening, and Chávezism may well prove to be a significant phenomenon far beyond its Latin American homeland.Got that? He seems to suggest Chávez economic policy may be the wave of the future. To reach this conclusion, Skidelsky must ignore the 25% plus price inflation, a 32% currency devaluation and a tripling of the murder rate. He also has to ignore the fact that the decline of the US is because of ever intensifying interventionism, not free market policy and, with regard to China, he has to ignore the phony growth fueled by government money printing and regulations, where now more than 60 million vacant apartments exist.
I think even if I were a Keynesian, I would be embarrassed to put together the commentary Skidelsky did. There is simply nothing attractive about The Chávez Way. It should be buried along with Chávez.