Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Western Hemisphere: Business Groups and Transnational Capitalism in Central America: Economic and Political Strategies

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Western Hemisphere: Business Groups and Transnational Capitalism in Central America: Economic and Political Strategies

Article excerpt

Business Groups and Transnational Capitalism in Central America: Economic and Political Strategies BY BENEDICTE BULL, FULVIO CASTELLACCI, AND YURI KASAHARA. Palgrave, 2014, 240 pp.

A lack of corporate transparency and a paucity of firm-level data frustrate researchers who study business dynamics in the economies of Central America. Nevertheless, the heroic efforts of Bull, Castellacci, and Kasahara have produced some fascinating and often disquieting findings. Contrary to the optimistic hopes of those who support free trade in Central America, opening the region to global commerce has not severed the chummy relations between governments and business groups controlled by powerful families, nor has it generated more competitive and productive business management practices. Although there are important exceptions, many of the region's leading investors have not chosen to fund export-oriented industries and agricultural innovation but rather have opted for the easy money of retail malls, tourist hotels, and local banking. …

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