The Economic History of Latin America since Independence

The Economic History of Latin America since Independence

The Economic History of Latin America since Independence

The Economic History of Latin America since Independence

Synopsis

This book covers the economic history of Latin America from independence in the 1820s to the present. It stresses the differences between Latin American countries while recognizing the similar external influences to which the region has been subject. Victor Bulmer-Thomas notes the failure of the region to close the gap in living standards between it and the United States and explores the reasons. He also examines the new paradigm taking shape in Latin America since the debt crisis of the 1980s and asks whether this new economic model will be able to bring the growth and equity that the region desperately needs. First Edition Hb (1995): 0-521-36329-2 First Edition Pb (1995): 0-521-36872-3

Excerpt

Since the first edition of this book was published in 1994, the new paradigm based on market-friendly policies and export-led growth has been consolidated in Latin America. At the time of the first edition, it was too early to evaluate the impact of this New Economic Model on long-run economic performance and difficult to make comparisons with the previous paradigms. It is now clear, however, that the outcome of the new paradigm is unlikely to differ substantially from its predecessors. A few countries have been able to lift their long-run growth rates significantly, but most have not and several have performed much worse than during the inward-looking phase of development. Thus, the prospect of Latin America achieving a high standard of living in the near future is still remote and the gap between income per head in Latin America and that in developed countries, notably the United States, is as wide as ever.

The influence of the international context has always been of great importance for Latin America. However, the new wave of globalization–leading to the integration of product and factor markets around the world–has increased the impact of the external environment on the region despite the reduced importance of primary products. Latin America is still struggling to find a way to maximize the benefits of globalization while minimizing the impact of negative external shocks. This dilemma has been made harder by the decline in importance of an independent Latin American school of economic thinking. Most new ideas on economic policy now emanate outside the region and are adopted with only minor adaptations.

The global interest in the impact of the new paradigm on income distribution and poverty has been reflected in recent research on Latin America. This is one of the main advances since the first edition of this book was published. There has also been a revival of interest in regional integration and this now extends to the whole hemisphere as a result of the change of policy by the United States toward regionalism. Debt problems and capital flows have continued to attract a great deal of attention.

Research on the economic history of Latin America has been made easier in recent years by several publications devoted to long-run time series.

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