The Portuguese Economy since 1974

By David Corkill | Go to book overview

Conclusion

In a reminder of Salazarist propaganda which tried to picture the country as a peaceful oasis in the midst of a world menaced and corrupted by communism, social problems and war, Portugal's rulers in the early 1990s liked to claim a similar tranquility. In contrast to the upheavals in eastern Europe and the prolonged recessions afflicting some of the advanced industrial economies, Portugal began 1992 with the EC's highest growth rate, the lowest unemployment, a buoyant investment scene and a newly re-elected political majority promising four more years of stable government.

There are two contrasting perspectives on the current state and future prospects of the Portuguese economy. The first echoes the government line and takes a positive view of the changes set in motion. It asserts that substantial progress is being made towards removing some of the deeply-ingrained economic and psychological problems that resulted from decades of dictatorship and peripherality. It is argued that five years of strong growth have transformed the industrial and commercial landscape and created a more optimistic and outward- looking business culture.

The second perspective reserves judgement on the progress made because the full impact of competition is yet to be felt. It is argued that the restructuring process is still in its infancy and that whole swathes of uncompetitive domestic industry and agriculture will experience severe difficulties over the next decade. This 'pessimistic' scenario is encapsulated in the Fitzgerald report on the Portuguese economy presented to the European Parliament in 1991. The Irish conservative MEP cast a shadow over the euphoria usually associated with cavaquismo. In particular, the report criticised the limited regional specialisation, the failure to identify priority sectors for future investment and growth and the persistence of regional inequalities. Fitzgerald highlighted Portugal's continued peripherality as part of the group of satellite states outside the prosperous 'golden triangle' of advanced industrial economies, still hamstrung by a weak business culture, the legacy of a strong state interventionist tradition and persistent infrastructure and educational deficiencies. The imminent accession or closer integration of Austria, the Scandinavian countries and some

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The Portuguese Economy since 1974
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Contents viii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Chapter 1 the Authoritarian Legacy 1
  • Chapter 2 from Political to Economic Crisis Portugal 1968-85 29
  • Chapter 3 the Structure of the Portuguese Economy 53
  • Chapter 4 Portugal and Europe 88
  • Chapter 5 Economic Boom and Modernisation the Economy Under Cavaco Silva, 1985-91 117
  • Conclusion 150
  • Bibliography 152
  • Index 163
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