Sunday, September 03, 2006

Book on Latin American political economy by Javier Santiso

The title of the book says what it is about.
" Latin America's political economy of the possible - Beyond good revolutionaries and Free Marketeers"

I finished this book of 250 pages quickly in two days. Two reasons: The analysis and assessment of the trend of political economy of the region by the author are the same as mine. Secondly I was going fast to see if the author has any discoveries and illuminations which would be new to me. I did not come across anything dramatic except for new economic jargons such as "consolidology"and "transitology". He has also quoted Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz , who have , of course, made some profund and thought-provoking statements on the Latin American situation.

Here are the conclusions of the author:
  • The region is moving away from economic "magical realism" that plots miraculous and impossible solutions.
  • There is the emergence of "Possibilism" and gradualistic policies.
  • Even those committed to monolithic ideologies, after coming to power, have taken the path of seeking pragmatic and pluralistic solutions. The Chicago Boys of Chile conceived socialistic policies, while Lula of the left pursued market-friendly policies. Fernando Henrique, former president of Brazil and one of the Gurus of Dependency theory opened up the market and pursued conservative macroeconomic policies.
  • Chile, Brazil and Mexico are the three shining role models of moderation and non-dogmatism, influencing the policy makers in the rest of the region.
  • Argentina set a negative example by its rush into neoliberalism and paying an enormous political, economic and social cost for the folly.

The author has been diplomatic about the Bolivarian Revolution of President Chavez, which goes against the trend in the rest of the region. He has also touched only the positive aspects of instituitional anchoring of Mexico in NAFTA, without going into the other side.

I share the author's conclusion that the region has undergone profund transformation consolidating democracy and instituitions. He is also optimistic about the future of Latin America, as I am.

The author is a OECD economist. The publisher is MIT. Published in 2006.

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