The New Economic Model in Latin America and its Impact on Income Distribution and Poverty

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Latin America's income inequality falling, says World Bank | World news | The Guardian

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Item information Condition: Very Good. The latter can be explained by three factors: a there were significant financial resources from the State to selected sectors, for which the BNDES occupied a central role; b the existence of explicit development plans, with a relatively solid design with objectives, goals and even instruments , as the PITCE, the PDP and the Plan Maior, and c relatively high institutional capabilities, being the BNDES the best proof of that. As it will be shown later, this has not necessarily implied that Brazil has had a sound performance regarding structural change, as industrial policy alone is not always enough.

While in the s the approach to industrial policy was mainly horizontal, since it has become increasingly vertical. The interest of the government shifted from strengthening sectors where Argentina had static comparative advantages such as mining, forestry or fishing , as it happened in the s, to foster competitiveness in sectors where comparative advantages were low such as auto parts, electronics or capital goods, among others or even to create new sectors such as aerospace, biotechnology or nanotechnology, among others. This is mainly due to three factors. First, Argentina has had greater institutional disorders than Brazil, partly because the dismantling of the State during the last quarter of the twentieth century was significantly higher.

Second, financial resources to industrial policy have been much lower, despite a significant increase in recent years. One of the main reasons for that is that Argentina has not had a development bank as the Brazilian one Bizberg, Finally, although the Argentinean State devised two development plans in such as the Strategic Industrial Plan and the Innovative Argentina Plan , they were more wishful thinking than a realistic option.

First, the National Innovation Council for Competitiveness was founded emphasizing that Chile needed to develop productive clusters in sectors where the economy was already quite competitive for example, processed food, fruit, financial services, construction, aquaculture, mining or tourism, among others. Two more issues about Chile should be remarked: first, the role of public credit on the funding of the productive sector was rather limited, being CORFO the most important public lender. For example, progress was made in infrastructure, but that was not quite enough to satisfy the current needs of the country.

In sum, the Chilean State intervened less than in Argentina or Brazil, but its intervention had positive impacts since the goals were clearer and its institutional capabilities were quite sound. Actually, the Mexican industrial policy has continued rejecting the use of vertical instruments, and it has preferred the market failures approach, where the State has a very limited role in the economy. That is why the firepower of the restricted industrial policy has been very low.


It should be noted that there were many national development plans, but they have been rather generic and limited to a few objectives related to social welfare. On the one hand, Argentina utilized trade policies to restrict imports. These instruments have brought problems with the World Trade Organization WTO , but at the same time limited the effects of the currency appreciation on certain manufacturing branches.

On the other hand, Brazil - whose currency was strongly appreciated until - did not use trade policy to restrict imports. Instead, it relied on tax reliefs to the manufacturing sector, to improve its profitability. This section examines this latter dimension. In order to do this, and using as inspiration the work of Bizberg , we will analyse the evolution of three variables: a the growth regime; b the role of the State regarding development; and c the labour market regulation.

The information is presented in Table 4. On the one hand, during the long s Argentina and Brazil had a growth regime that can be characterized as debt-led regime. In a context of regressive functional income distribution, debt was a crucial in order to finance demand. Moreover, the dynamics of the external front of the two economies required a heavy dependence on capital account by mainly foreign borrowing.

Latin America: Poverty, Radicalism, or Market Economy?

This growth dynamic was also experienced by Mexico up to the Tequila crisis. Since then, the growth regime of the Mexican economy seems to have been an export-led regime, despite the poor economic results. In both cases the growth rationale became wage-led which put the salary as a key driver of domestic demand and therefore of growth. It is no coincidence that this has involved, in both cases, a radical change in the way State intervened in the development process, which went from passive to active as its participation in social and economic variables became much higher, as well as its intervention in the distributive conflict between capital and labour.

In fact, relations between capital and labour came to be much more regulated, especially in Argentina. This was partially possible because these countries and mainly Argentina had higher union densities compared to Latin American standards Bizberg, Unlike Argentina and Brazil, Chile and Mexico have had a low union density and the labour movement is rather weak. In part, this is because in both countries the union bargaining occurs at the company level, while in Argentina and Brazil the negotiations are at the branch level.